As appropriate, use the following activity or one of your own to begin the lesson.
Display the suitcase or bag you have prepared (see “Preparation,” item 4). Ask a class member to open it, read what is written on the paper, and show what this missionary took with him: scriptures, socks, and five small coins. Write three words on the chalkboard:
Sacrifice, Courage, and Faith. Ask class members to consider the sacrifice, courage, and faith it took for Elder Snow to undertake this missionary journey as the Lord directed.
Explain that this lesson includes a discussion of the
missionary work carried out at great sacrifice by Saints living in Kirtland, Ohio. These missionaries helped convert many people to the gospel, strengthening the young Church.
Discussion and Application
Prayerfully select the lesson material that will best meet class members’ needs. Encourage class members to share experiences that relate to the principles you discuss.
1. The Lord poured out great blessings during the Kirtland period.
Explain that most of the last 13 lessons have focused on the doctrines that were revealed and the events that occurred while the Saints were in Kirtland, Ohio. During this time the Lord blessed His people greatly. Use the following questions to briefly review the highlights from the Kirtland period. Refer to previous lessons and to
Our Heritage as necessary.
What are some of the important doctrines the Lord revealed during the Kirtland period? (Answers could include revelations on the law of consecration, the law of
tithing, the kingdoms of glory, the Word of Wisdom, the Second Coming, and the priesthood.)
What were some of the important events and accomplishments during the Kirtland period?
2. The Saints in Kirtland made great sacrifices to share the gospel.
Explain that another important aspect of the Kirtland period was the calling of missionaries to preach the gospel in the United States, Canada, and England. Most of them served at great personal sacrifice.
Ask the assigned class member to summarize the sections “Missions of Early Ohio Converts” and “Mission of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles” from
Our Heritage, pages 30–32.
You may also want to tell the following experiences:
In 1836 Elder Parley P. Pratt, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, was called to serve a mission to Canada. On his way to Toronto, Canada, “a stranger gave him a letter of introduction to John Taylor, a Methodist lay preacher in Toronto. Taylor was affiliated with a group who believed existing churches did not correspond with New Testament Christianity. For two years this group had met several times a week for the ‘purpose of seeking truth, independent of any sectarian organization.’ In Toronto, Elder Pratt was courteously received by the Taylors, but they were not at first enthusiastic about his message.
“Discouraged at being unable to secure a place to preach, Parley decided to leave Toronto. Before going he stopped at the Taylors to get some of his luggage and to say goodbye. While he was there, Leonora Taylor told her friend Mrs. Isabella Walton about Parley’s problem and said she was sorry he was leaving. ‘He may be a man of God,’ she said. Mrs. Walton replied that she had been inspired by the Spirit to visit the Taylors that morning because she was willing to let Elder Pratt stay at her home and preach. He did so and was eventually invited to attend a meeting of John Taylor’s group, in which John read the New Testament account of Philip’s preaching in Samaria. ‘Now,’ said he, ‘where is our Philip?
Where is our receiving the Word with joy, and being baptized when we believed? Where is our Peter and John? Our apostles? Where is our Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands? …’ When Parley was invited to speak, he declared that he had answers to John Taylor’s questions.
“For three weeks John Taylor attended Elder Pratt’s meetings, making detailed notes of his sermons and carefully comparing them with the scriptures. Gradually he became convinced that the true gospel of
Jesus Christ was restored. He and his wife, Leonora, were baptized on 9 May 1836” ( Church History in the Fulness of Times [Church Educational System manual, 1993], 157; see also Parley P. Pratt, Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt , 134–40, 151).
John Taylor was ordained an elder and served faithfully as a missionary. Later he became the third President of the Church.
Levi Hancock was baptized in November 1830, and soon afterward he was called to leave Kirtland and serve a mission in Missouri. The journey involved walking hundreds of miles, and he and his companion, Zebedee Coltrin, had success in preaching the gospel as they traveled. “But they also suffered hardships on their journey. Levi fell ill because of an infection in his feet and had to spend time recuperating with a
family who took him in while Zebedee went on without him. Later, in Missouri, he continued to struggle with illness and chafed at times because of his inability to do all he wanted. But grateful to serve, he wrote: ‘I have to be honest before God and do all the good I can for his kingdom or woe is me. I care not for the world nor what they say. They have to meet my Testimony at the Judgement seat. I mean that my conduct shall be such that my words will be believed, the Lord being my helper.’”
Later, Levi served valiantly as part of Zion’s Camp. In February 1835 he was chosen as one of the Presidents of the Seventy. (See Don L. Searle,
“It Is the Truth, I Can Feel It,” Ensign, July 1999, 48–50.)
What can we learn about missionary work from these stories? What can we learn about overcoming adversity in missionary work?
What sacrifices may we need to make to serve as full-time missionaries? What sacrifices may we need to make to share the gospel with our friends and neighbors?
3. Members of the Quorum of the Twelve taught thousands in England.
Explain that as the Church grew, the forces working against it became more vigorous. Some of the Saints faltered in their faith. During this difficult time, the Lord revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith that “something new must be done for the salvation of His Church” (
History of the Church, 2:489).
Ask the assigned class member to explain what was done by summarizing the section
“Mission to England” from Our Heritage, pages 32–33.
The Lord’s commandment for these brethren to leave Kirtland at such a difficult time may have seemed hard to understand. But the sacrifices made by these faithful brethren resulted in a great strengthening of the Church.
On 23 July 1837, the day the missionaries first preached the gospel in England, the Prophet Joseph Smith received a revelation directed to Thomas B. Marsh, the President of the Quorum of the Twelve. This revelation is now D&C 112. Verses D&C 112:12–34 contain instructions that Thomas B. Marsh was to give to the Twelve.
Explain that the promise given in
D&C 112:19 was fulfilled quickly. Within eight months, 2,000 people had joined the Church through the efforts of these missionaries, and 26 branches had been organized.
The Lord promised the Twelve that He would give them power to open nations to the preaching of the gospel if they would “humble themselves before [Him], … abide in [His] word, and hearken to the voice of [His] Spirit” (
D&C 112:21–22). To show that the Lord continues to fulfill this promise, you may want to share the following story related by President Thomas S. Monson:
“In 1968 when I made my first visit to the German Democratic Republic, tensions were high. Trust and understanding did not exist. No diplomatic relations had been established. On a cloudy and rain-filled day I journeyed to the city of Görlitz, situated deep in the German Democratic Republic. … I attended my first meeting with the Saints. We assembled in a small and ancient building. As the members sang the hymns of Zion, they literally filled the hall with their faith and devotion.
“My heart was filled with sorrow when I realized the members had no patriarch, no wards or stakes—just branches. They could not receive temple blessings—either endowment or sealing. No official visitor had come from Church headquarters in a long time. The members could not leave their country. Yet they trusted in the Lord with all their hearts.
“I stood at the pulpit, and with tear-filled eyes and a voice choked with emotion, I made a promise to the people: ‘If you will remain true and faithful to the commandments of God, every blessing any member of the Church enjoys in any other country will be yours.’ Then I realized what I had said. That night, I dropped to my knees and pleaded with my Heavenly Father, ‘Father, I’m on Thy errand; this is Thy Church. I have spoken words that came not from me but from Thee and Thy Son. Wilt Thou fulfill the promise in the lives of this noble people.’ Thus concluded my first visit to the German Democratic Republic.”
Eight years later, Elder Monson offered a dedicatory prayer on the land:
“On a Sunday morning, April 27, 1975, I stood on an outcropping of rock situated between the cities of Dresden and Meissen, high above the Elbe River, and offered a prayer on the land and its people. That prayer noted the faith of the members. It emphasized the tender feelings of many hearts filled with an overwhelming desire to obtain temple blessings. A plea for peace was expressed. Divine help was requested. I spoke the words: ‘Dear Father, let this be the beginning of a new day for the members of Thy Church in this land.’
“Suddenly, from far below in the valley, a bell in a church steeple began to chime and the shrill crow of a rooster broke the morning silence, each heralding the commencement of a new day. Though my eyes were closed, I felt a
warmth from the sun’s rays reaching my face, my hands, my arms. How could this be? An incessant rain had been falling all morning.
“At the conclusion of the prayer, I gazed heavenward. I noted a ray of sunshine which streamed from an opening in the heavy clouds, a ray which engulfed the spot where our small group stood. From that moment I knew divine help was at hand.”
Following this inspired prayer, the Church grew rapidly in the land. District councils were organized, followed by the creation of stakes. Priesthood leaders and patriarchs were called. The Freiberg Germany temple was dedicated in 1985. And in 1989 the government permitted the Church to send full-time missionaries to the country. (In Conference Report, Apr. 1989, 66–69; or
Ensign, May 1989, 50–53.)
4. Many Saints in Kirtland remained valiant despite persecution.
Explain that by 1838, the Saints’ time in Kirtland was drawing to a close. Persecution intensified, and it became unsafe to remain there. Ask the assigned class member to summarize the section “Exodus from Kirtland” from
Our Heritage, page 36.
While some Church members fell into apostasy in Kirtland, most of them remained faithful and were a great strength to the Church. Relate the following experience from the life of Brigham Young:
While living in Kirtland, Brigham Young was in a meeting where a group of apostates, including some prominent Church leaders, were plotting to depose the Prophet Joseph Smith and put someone else in his place. Brigham Young said of this experience:
“I rose up, and in a plain and forcible manner told them that Joseph was a Prophet, and I knew it, and that they might rail and slander him as much as they pleased; they could not destroy the appointment of the Prophet of God, they could only destroy their own authority, cut the thread that bound them to the Prophet and to God, and sink themselves to hell. Many were highly enraged at my decided opposition to their measures. … This meeting was broken up without the apostates being able to unite on any decided measures of opposition” (“History of Brigham Young,”
Deseret News, 10 Feb. 1858, 386).