98983_000_011Answers are intended for help and perspective, not as pronouncements of Church doctrine.
Some people seem to brag about how many generations of their family have belonged to the Church. I’m a convert. Does it really matter if you’re related to those who were the pioneers of the Church in your country?
Every nation on earth where the Church is organized has wonderful pioneers whose faith and testimony have helped the Church grow. Many of these pioneers are still faithfully building the Church. No matter who we are—longtime members or converts of only a few weeks—we all owe a debt of gratitude to these pioneers, whether they are our family members or not. They built the Church and followed the prophets at a time when many observers questioned whether the Church would survive, let alone grow.
It may sound like bragging when people tell stories about their pioneering ancestors or relatives, but they may just be getting carried away by the admiration they have for their relatives’ perseverance and faith. You may have to overlook their enthusiasm.
As inspiring as these stories are, it does no good to be related to pioneers unless you are willing to do what those relatives did—study and pray and actively follow the example of the Savior.
As a convert to the gospel who has discovered this truth for yourself, you are never at a disadvantage in the Lord’s sight. But, as you have probably discovered, it is nice to have your family committed to the gospel. It is encouraging to have family traditions that are in keeping with gospel living. You can resolve to start those traditions and habits in your own family. Not only will your good example inspire your family and friends now, but it will also bless your posterity. You can be the beloved pioneer your family will remember and admire.
As you hear or read stories about Church pioneers, try to learn from the fine example of their lives. Be grateful that you can benefit from their sacrifices. Gain strength from those stories. But understand that ultimately we all work out our own salvation (see Morm. 9:27), no matter who our family members are or what they have done.
I joined the Church when I was 23 years old. I believe it doesn’t matter how many generations our families have been in the Church. The restored gospel has the same impact on all of us, and each of us can have the same enthusiasm for sharing the gospel with those who have not received the truth.
Gregorio Miccoli, Taranto Branch, Puglia Italy District
It’s nice to be related to the pioneers of the Church, but it is just as nice to be a pioneer in our days—whether it is by setting an example in our homes or with our nonmember friends.
Laiz Velloso Albuquerque, Saco dos Limões Ward, Florianópolis Brazil Stake
We are responsible to work out our own salvation. God has given us all that we need to do so—the gospel we embraced at baptism, the guidance of the Holy Ghost, our living prophets, Church programs, and especially the Restoration of the truth in our dispensation.
Throughout my mission, I have encountered new experiences and challenges that have helped me to be a pioneer. I have met these challenges by remembering the love of Jesus Christ and his great commandment to “love one another” (John 13:34).
Sister Lailani T. Untalan, Philippines Cebu Mission
When I think about the great heritage of faith and the rich blessings I enjoy because of the sacrifices of my pioneer ancestors, I am grateful to be an heir of their faith. It is now my responsibility to carry on the work they started. Any praise I receive will come through following in—not boasting about—the footsteps of my pioneer ancestors.
Tahire Afiafilelei Afoa, Liahona Ward, Auckland New Zealand Waterview Stake
Pioneer relatives can serve as examples. But even if we are converts and don’t have pioneers in our families, we have the greatest example of all—our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Charmaine Eva N. Orola, Francisco Homes Branch, Philippines Quezon City Mission
It doesn’t matter who we are or where we live. We can all share in the great faith and courage of the pioneers as we move forward in doing the Lord’s work.
Elder Godoy Barrios, Chile Santiago North Mission
The spiritual experiences of previous generations help us better understand the great divine plan, but each individual must gain a testimony of Jesus Christ and his work. Let us stay humble and grateful for the efforts of our ancestors and make our future generations strong before the Lord.
Sylvie Carré, Reims Ward, Paris France East Stake
My grandmother was the first member in our area more than 35 years ago. Following her example is very important to me, but our relationship is not a reason to boast. I need to live the gospel—as everyone does.
We are all one family in the Church. Our actions and desires are important—not how many years or generations our families have been members of the Church.
Elaine Gonçalves de Souza, Itajai First Branch, Vale do Itajai Brazil District
It’s wonderful to be related to pioneers; we can learn much from them about the gospel, their works, and their good attributes. But when we consider ourselves better than others, we are guilty of pride and selfishness. We learn from D&C 3:4 that although we may do many great works, if we boast of our own strength, we will “incur the vengeance of a just God.”
Sisilia Mafileó Langi Fehoko, Hauula Sixth Ward, Laie Hawaii Stake
Most of the members here are converts, and they’re strong, faithful members whom I really admire. What matters is that you have faith and a strong testimony of the Church.
Cami Cheong, Bedok Ward, Singapore Singapore Stake
I was the first member of my family to be baptized; I joined the Church when I was only 10 years old. It was difficult to remain strong. But through the blessings of my Heavenly Father, my parents and my grandmother are now faithful members of the Church. This is what is most important: being part of the gospel and sharing it with others, especially our own families.
Wandyson de O. G. Moreira, Guarus First Branch, Campos Brazil District