Ask five different friends what they’re afraid of and you’ll probably get five different answers. For one, it might be making new friends. For another, it might be taking a school examination. Sometimes it’s the unknown that worries us. Some of us are afraid of sharing the gospel with our friends.
If you’ve ever felt that way, you’d like to meet Anna Ruth Aaron, 15, of the Lubbock, Texas First Ward. She was afraid, too, until she tried missionary work.
“I was afraid to talk to my friends about the Church,” said Anna Ruth. “But I’ve always been very open with the fact that I’m a Mormon. My friends know my views on drinking and smoking. At parties, if a newcomer tried to pressure me into something against my standards, my friends would tell him to stop.
“I always dreamed I could be a missionary and bring one of my friends, or the whole group of them, into the Church.”
Dreams have a way of making fears disappear. At least that’s what Anna Ruth discovered when she found herself talking to a good friend about the Church.
“I’d known Diane Swann a little, but from the first day of the new school year, we became very close friends. We started walking home from school together and spending time together. One day as we were walking home, something told me ‘Ask her … ask her … ask.’
“So I said, ‘Diane, can I ask you something? I’ve never done this before, and I’ll admit I’m scared, but I would like you to meet the missionaries for my church. You could listen to one of the lessons they have, which will explain what my church is like. If you don’t want to I’ll understand, and it won’t affect our friendship at all.’
“Diane replied, ‘Yes, I’ll listen to one lesson, but I want you to know right now, I’m not going to join your church.’”
Anna Ruth arranged for the first lesson, Diane came, and there was a good spirit there. Diane asked her mother if she might continue the lessons and her mother said yes, but she said that Diane would not want to join the Church. Diane continued the lessons, the missionaries challenged her to be baptized, her mother gave permission—and Diane joined the Church.
How did Diane feel about Anna Ruth talking to her about the Church?
“I didn’t feel offended, but I was surprised,” said Diane. “My mother was surprised when I told her I was interested in the Church, because religion wasn’t discussed much in our home. My brother teased me about it, but my mother was very supportive, and came to the baptism. I think it’s a very good idea to talk to friends about the Church, because if Anna Ruth hadn’t done that for me, I wouldn’t be in the Church. Don’t be afraid to ask.”
Anna Ruth’s dream of being a missionary to her friends continued to grow—unexpectedly.
“My friend Dawn had heard Diane and me talking about the Church, and mentioned one day that she might be interested, too,” said Anna Ruth. “It just thrilled me. Our stake girl’s conference was a week away, and one of the priesthood leaders in our ward said they had a special fund for someone to take a nonmember girl to it. So my mother helped arrange for Dawn to go. The conference was really inspiring, and Dawn told me that she wanted to be baptized. The next week she started the lessons, and a few weeks later she was baptized.”
And Anna Ruth found out that her dream didn’t end with Dawn’s baptism. “Right after Dawn was baptized, a friend of mine that I’ve known for years told me that she wanted to go to church with me on Sunday!”
So how does Anna Ruth Aaron feel now about her missionary work?
“It’s indescribable,” she said. “You feel so excited. For me, the greatest joy would be for them to stay active in the Church, and grow in it.
“I would encourage young people everywhere to please let people know that they are members of the Church. When they get a prompting to share the gospel, I hope they listen to it, and bear their testimony when the feeling comes to them. It’s so important to share the gospel, to give others the chance to know and feel the great joy, peace, and serenity that the Church gives us. I love the gospel with all my heart and want to share it with everyone I see.”
That’s what can happen to someone who’s a little bit afraid to share the gospel with a friend.