For some time, the large number of convert baptisms in the Campinas Brazil Castelo Stake had been challenging our ability as leaders to help our new members nourish the seed of truth and grow strong in the gospel. As a stake presidency, we felt an urgency to make sure new converts were being taught “the good word of God,” as President Gordon B. Hinckley has asked (see “Find the Lambs, Feed the Sheep,” Liahona, July 1999, 123).
About three years ago, as we discussed President Hinckley’s counsel as a stake presidency, we noticed an interesting thing: most of the members in our stake who were subscribing to the Liahona were longtime members; they knew the value of receiving the prophets’ words in their homes. However, most new members were not subscribing. We became convinced that an important part of our efforts to help new converts receive the spiritual sustenance they need was getting the Liahona into their homes.
This was no small task. Some 200 converts join our stake each year. How could we encourage these new members to subscribe without making them feel a subscription was obligatory? We didn’t want them to resent our encouragement, particularly if they were facing financial difficulties. And we didn’t want them to feel they had to subscribe to the Liahona to be good members of the Church.
Still, we recognized the power that flows into homes where people regularly read the words of the living prophets and other inspired Church members. We wanted each member of our stake to have access to that source of strength.
In considering the situation, we figured that the number of baptisms we had in a year corresponded to about 80 families. We asked ourselves, Why couldn’t we give a year’s subscription to the Liahona, free of charge, to these 80 families? We felt that after a year’s exposure to the magazine, they would want to continue their subscription on their own. But what of the cost to our meager stake resources? We decided that getting the First Presidency Message and the rest of the magazine into our new converts’ homes on a regular basis justified the cost.
As a stake presidency, we found a way to help new members receive a subscription for their first year in the Church. These new members received the Liahona gladly. Thelma de Paula Silva, a new member of the Rosolem Branch, reflects the feelings of many. “The Liahona has helped me set and achieve goals,” she says. “It has helped me strengthen my own testimony, and it helps my family members who still don’t belong to the Church. It brings joy and love to my home and helps me in my calling as Young Women president. The Liahona is a light for me in moments of darkness.”
As a stake presidency, we also pondered what we could do to help less-active members feel motivated to return to full activity in the Church. The year after our Liahona project began, we asked ourselves the questions, Now that the new members are being exposed to the Liahona, what about the less-active members of our stake? Why couldn’t we extend our Liahona program to them? We figured the number of subscriptions required for these members, and we felt we should order one-year subscriptions for them. Again we found a way to do so.
As our new and less-active members received their magazines, we began to notice an increase in attendance at our sacrament meetings. We felt better as a stake presidency, knowing that our brothers and sisters were being “nourished by the good word of God” (Moro. 6:4).
We began to wonder about active members of our stake who were not subscribing. During all this time, we had asked the bishops and branch presidents to make sure that every member household was given the opportunity to have the magazine. Active members were encouraged to obtain or renew their own subscriptions to the Liahona. We learned that some active members wanted to subscribe but didn’t have the financial means to do so. We decided to include these members in our stake subscription program as well.
As subscription levels among our active members increased, we received many favorable comments. Carla Virginia Soares de Oliveira of the Amarais Branch said: “I’ve been a member of the Church for five years. But I started receiving the Liahona only last year. The things I had not yet learned in Sunday School or Relief Society, I am now learning through the Church magazine.”
Leandro Domingos, a young member of the Amarais Branch, is the only Latter-day Saint in his family. “When I have doubts or questions,” he says, “I always get strength from the Liahona. I love the stories it contains. I usually can relate them to my own situation. Although my mother is not a member, she always compliments the articles.”
The missionaries of the Brazil Campinas Mission were a great support to our stake Liahona program. The missionaries took copies of the Liahona with them whenever they visited the members.
“The missionaries loved this project,” says former mission president Rodney Cuthbert. “The Liahona project gave them an opportunity to visit members who hadn’t been to church for a long time. A number of these people have become active again. The missionaries also used the Liahona to introduce the Church to investigators, and we had some conversions as a result.”
While it is difficult to measure all the benefits of this effort, we are gratified to see joy on the faces of members as they give talks, lessons, or testimonies about the influence of the Liahona in their lives. We have also seen an increased desire among our members to receive the counsel of the Lord through the magazine. Many people wait eagerly for it to arrive, anticipating that its messages will bless their lives.
Karen Pereira da Silva, a magazine representative in the Anhanguera Ward, expresses our sentiments exactly: “It is almost as if the magazine is made especially for me. Many times while reading its articles, especially the message from the First Presidency, I have felt through the Spirit that the counsel being given was what I needed to hear at that particular moment of my life.”
We are convinced our efforts to have a Liahona in every home in our stake have helped bring the joy and peace of the gospel of Jesus Christ into the lives of our brothers and sisters in greater abundance.
There are things every ward and stake (or branch and district) can do to help members realize the value and benefit of receiving the messages of the living prophets and other inspired Church members in their homes. Consider the following questions. For other ideas, see “Using the October 2000 Liahona,” page 48.
Who in our ward or stake (branch or district) is subscribing to the Liahona? Who among those not subscribing could benefit most from a subscription? How can we encourage those members to subscribe?
Are we making information regarding how to subscribe to the Liahona and how to renew subscriptions readily available to everyone? How can we make the subscription process easier for all members?
Are priesthood and auxiliary leaders aware of the resources available to them in the Liahona? What training could we provide to help priesthood and auxiliary leaders better use the Liahona in their callings?
How can the Liahona assist me in my Church calling?
Is there an article in this issue of the Liahona on the topic of the next lesson I will teach? How could I use this article in my lesson?
How can studying the words of the living prophets and inspired Church members, as found in the Liahona, strengthen our family?
How can the Liahona help us teach our family the gospel?
What articles in this issue of the Liahona and The Friend could I use as resources in our next family home evening lesson?