I have deep admiration and respect for young men who honor the Aaronic Priesthood. Let me tell you about three of them who come from the Nairobi Kenya Stake in Africa.
Martin Becomes Strong
At age 14, Martin of the Westlands Branch found himself away from his home in Nairobi, attending a boarding school where he was the only member of the Church. In Martin’s school, on certain days of the week, only tea and bread were offered for breakfast. With 700 students, school authorities did not have the means to provide a special menu for one, so Martin chose to take water with the bread.
On Sundays he had to attend church with the rest of his schoolmates. There he had to listen to religious teachings he knew were sometimes distorted. From time to time schoolmates would steal glances at him as they talked in low tones about his “strange” beliefs. Occasionally, some would even call him a devil worshipper.
These challenges strengthened rather than weakened Martin. He was greatly encouraged by monthly visits from his parents and frequent messages from his branch president, who always sent the latest issue of the New Era. Reading it helped increase his courage to face these trials.
Joseph Never Misses
Joseph of the Riruta Ward holds the office of teacher in the Aaronic Priesthood. He remains faithful to the gospel despite being the only Church member in a large school in which many of his peers participate in drugs and other evils. Joseph has never missed church. He is always early, and he is clean and ready to serve as assigned by his quorum president and bishop. He helps prepare the sacrament almost every Sunday.
Humphrey Posts Assignments
Humphrey of the Upper Hill Ward is also a teacher. He was baptized into the Church just two years ago. As Martin did, Humphrey currently attends boarding school. Part of the reason his faith has grown so much since he joined the Church is that he receives all his seminary assignments by post (by mail), does them, and returns them promptly to his seminary teacher.
When boarding school closes, Humphrey typically has to walk 45 minutes one way on Sundays to get a ride to church. Nevertheless, he is always early at church and ready to serve as assigned.
Whenever he receives an assignment to speak, Humphrey is diligent in his preparation. It is clear to all who listen that he has put much effort into preparing his talk.
Living the Standards
Today in most of the world, standards of morality continue to erode. Often young people who seek to connect with something good and honorable do not know where to find it. Institutions of learning have bought into the false idea that moral standards are defined personally and are variable.
But by living the standards of your faith, you can help your peers to witness the stability, confidence, peace, and joy that come from the gospel. Your example can help prepare others to be receptive to the teachings of the restored gospel. Duty to God for young men and Personal Progress for young women can help you grow closer to God and earn the trust of adults and peers.
The Ultimate Example
Whether you are a young man or a young woman, you honor the priesthood as you live your life in a way that communicates to your peers and to others around you that you truly follow the Savior. The Savior’s life as a young man sets a wonderful example for you. When He was only 12, He was drawn to the work of His Heavenly Father, even as He honored His earthly parents. The scriptures say He taught others in the temple. He astonished older, well-learned people with His understanding of doctrine (see Luke 2:42–52). The Savior demonstrated that 12 years of age is not too young to begin understanding the deep things of the gospel if we qualify to have the Spirit with us.
The scriptures provide many additional role models of youth who were valiant in their faith: Joseph, son of Jacob; Daniel; Nephi; and others. In addition, we can look to latter-day prophets and apostles for examples in our time.
The restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood is evidence that Heavenly Father trusts the young men and young women of the Church. He expects you young men to use the priesthood to bless His children young and old. You do so by teaching the gospel, baptizing, administering the sacrament, helping the sick and afflicted, visiting homes to strengthen families, and serving as assigned by your bishop or branch president. Through the Aaronic Priesthood service you render, people come to feel the love Heavenly Father has for them. In the same way, you young women can follow the Savior’s example by living worthy to go to the temple, serving those around you, caring for those in need, and developing your strengths and talents.
In many units of the Church, I have seen young men going about these priesthood duties with reverence and dignity. I have also seen young women serving with all their heart and soul. Such service and the manner in which it is given strengthens your faith in God the Father and in His Son, Jesus Christ. It can also build the faith of those you serve.
Juliet Is Trusted
Young women, you set an example in the same way as young men: by living the gospel. As you work on Personal Progress, you will learn principles that will help you to know who you are as daughters of God and what Heavenly Father expects of you.
Juliet is one example. A member of the Westlands Branch, Juliet was baptized into the Church as a child of record. Despite difficult circumstances, including being raised by a single mother with no regular income, Juliet had high values which so impressed school authorities that she was appointed to be head girl of her school. She is literally the most trusted student in the school.
Juliet has learned that she participates in honoring the priesthood by living gospel standards. Her example demonstrates that young men and young women who honor the priesthood can find favor with God and with mankind.
Left: photo illustration by Matthew Reier; other photographs courtesy of Elder Sitati