In the Japanese translation of the hymn “Called to Serve” (Hymns, no. 249), the English words onward and forward are translated as susume. That word has significant meaning for me because of something that happened a few years ago when I was a stake president in Fukuoka, Japan.
The President of the Church, Gordon B. Hinckley (1910–2008), was visiting, and I was asked to accompany him. During one meeting, 300 full-time missionaries gathered to listen to the prophet. The Holy Spirit filled the chapel, and many of us shed tears of joy. We sang “Called to Serve” in Japanese, repeating over and over again susume, susume. President Hinckley asked the mission president, seated next to him, “What does susumemean?”
“It means ‘go forward,’” the mission president replied.
The meeting was wonderful. President Hinckley encouraged and motivated the missionaries. Afterward, he waved to them in farewell and left the building. As he got into my car to go back to the hotel, he said one word to me, in Japanese: “Susume!”
That word became a motto for me: “Go forward! Be positive! Face the future with faith!” It is the same message given to the youth of the Church in the concluding section of For the Strength of Youth. After reviewing the blessings that come from obedience to the Lord’s standards, in a section titled “Go Forward with Faith,” it says: “As you do these things, the Lord will make much more out of your life than you can by yourself. He will increase your opportunities, expand your vision, and strengthen you. He will give you the help you need to meet your trials and challenges. You will gain a stronger testimony and find true joy as you come to know your Father in Heaven and His Son, Jesus Christ, and feel Their love for you” (, 43).
The gospel teaches us to go forward in faith. “Seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Matthew 7:7). For me, this means susume.
The samurai were the military nobility of medieval and early-modern Japan. The Japanese still talk about one of them, Ryoma Sakamoto, who died in 1867. One of the reasons he is still so popular is because he always kept a positive attitude. He did not fear anyone or anything. He went anywhere he was needed. Inspired by the ideal that all men are created equal, he made every effort to establish a new government. But he was assassinated, and even as he was stabbed many times by another samurai’s sword, he didn’t give up. He tried to stand up and walk forward. This is a very famous story in Japan.
I understand that all of us have challenges and sufferings, and sometimes we may feel we are being attacked by our enemies. Satan will tempt us to become negative in our thinking and to abandon hope.
But I testify to you that the gospel gives us the strength to say susume and move on. The gospel does not give us negative messages. We must stand up and walk forward with faith, for we have the Lord’s promise that we will not be overcome. “And the Lord, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed” (Deuteronomy 31:8).
My dear friends, I would like you to be happy. True happiness must be founded on the knowledge that our Heavenly Father lives. He loves and knows each one of us. He knows everything about us—our weaknesses, strengths, good points, bad points, challenges, and sufferings. Because of His love for us, He sent His Son to save us. Jesus Christ is my Savior. He is my family’s Savior. He is your Savior. He guides us. He leads us. I know this Church is His Church, and I know President Thomas S. Monson is our living prophet.
I promise you that if you have a positive attitude and seek out good things, you will have the Holy Spirit to be with you. If you think of God and good things, the Holy Spirit will guide you. You will be able to encourage yourself to “go forward,” and despite your trials, with faith you will go on.