The purpose of this lesson is to help us become active in finding and teaching prospective members of the Church, as well as fellowshipping new members.
Sister Petra G. de Hernandez of Monterrey, Mexico, told her story:
“Nineteen years ago my husband died in an automobile accident. It was then that I felt the need to find God, so that he could help me with my family. My youngest daughter was eleven months old.
“One night, in the midst of my desperation, … I prayed to the Lord as if I were talking to another person. I asked him to show me the path to take in life. I told him that I knew he existed, but I didn’t know where. I asked him to show me how or where to find him. I did it with such faith and desire to find the truth that I shall never forget that prayer.
“The answer to my prayer was not long in coming. One morning two young missionaries knocked on my door and said they were from the Mormon Church and that they brought me a very important message. I had heard about the Mormons, but I had not been the least interested in them. I let them come in and they began the first lesson. As I received the first lesson, I felt that what they were saying was true, and I told them I wanted to be baptized with my family. …
“Since the day we accepted the gospel our lives have changed completely. I was now sure that God hears our prayers. …
“I can say with assurance that we are a united family due to the gospel and to those two missionaries who knocked on my door fifteen years ago.
“I will always be grateful to them both for having knocked on my door, and I know there are people who are grateful that my children have been the missionaries who knocked on their doors to bring them the gospel” (“A Missionary’s Mother” in Leon R. Hartshorn, comp., Inspirational Missionary Stories , 123–25).
Ask the sisters who are converts to share their gratitude for the missionaries that taught them. Have the sisters tell briefly how the gospel has changed their lives.
Our Heavenly Father has shown His great love for us by establishing the missionary program to help bring the gospel to His children around the world. The Lord said, “Preach my gospel unto every creature who has not received it” (D&C 112:28; italics added). Since the Church was organized in 1830, thousands of missionaries, both men and women, have been called to preach the gospel.
President Spencer W. Kimball said:
“The Lord has made clear through our prophets that we must take the gospel to the nations of the world—that all must be taught in their own language, even to the ends of the earth. There is no one else in the world to teach the nations except ourselves. And since there are a limited number of young men, it is proper that every member be a missionary … in accordance with the injunction of the Lord:
“‘Behold, I sent you out to testify and warn the people, and it becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor.’ (D&C 88:81)” (“Advice to a Young Man: Now Is the Time to Prepare,” New Era, June 1973, 8–9).
Why should we encourage our children to serve missions? Why must every member also be a missionary?
President Kimball reminded us of the great blessings we receive as members of the Church of Jesus Christ: “We have the gospel of Jesus Christ, the gospel of peace, the gospel of joy. We have truths that can make any person better and more fulfilled, any marriage happier and sweeter, any home more heavenly. We have the priesthood power of God to bless our homes and lives and the lives of others.” President Kimball then stated: “It is to our nonmember neighbors and associates that we are now asked to also ‘give such as we have.’ The Lord has commanded us to do so. We must lengthen our stride and must do it now” (“Always a Convert Church,” Ensign, Sept. 1975, 3).
Members of the Church have been given the responsibility to share the gospel with others. As we fulfill our responsibility, we will be able to share in the joy of others who learn of the gospel through our efforts.
Read Doctrine and Covenants 18:15–16. Ask a sister who has shared the gospel to tell how it made her feel.
What can we do now to be missionaries?
Display a poster of the following list or refer to the information on the chalkboard:
Elder Gene R. Cook said: “Sometimes our members are fearful to speak up for the truth. … [We should] speak out for the Lord and for his prophet on the vital issues of the day” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1976, 152–53; or Ensign, May 1976, 103). This is our duty as baptized members of the Church. (See Mosiah 18:9.)
Elder Cook told how one sister spoke up for the truth: “She was at a luncheon with a number of members of the Church; some were active and some inactive; and also a few nonmembers were present. The subject turned to abortion and birth control, and one of the nonmembers voiced for about five minutes some very strong feelings concerning these issues. She indicated, erroneously, that she felt that there is nothing wrong with an abortion, and that there should never be any kind of restriction placed on a man or a woman concerning birth control itself. This good sister in the Church was faced with a difficult challenge of whether to talk about the weather or some other noncontroversial subject, or whether to really speak out and state the truth. This choice woman chose to do the latter. After explaining what the Lord had said concerning both of those issues, she bore her testimony as to her personal feelings. As you might expect, the luncheon concluded rather abruptly. However, afterwards one of the inactive women came over to this good sister and explained that she had never before understood the Lord’s view on those issues and had felt the truth being spoken on that day” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1976, 153; or Ensign, May 1976, 103).
How can we stand up for the truth on vital community issues?
We can make opportunities for ourselves to spread the gospel. If we begin a discussion with a stranger, we can direct the flow of conversation toward the gospel. With the guidance of the Holy Ghost, it is not hard to find ways to bear testimony.
A blind sister named Alice Colton Smith was challenged by her branch president to be a member missionary. Since all her friends were members of the Church, she asked him, “How can I bring anyone into the Church?” Her story continues:
“The branch president said, ‘Sister, if you have faith and a desire to do his will, God will show you the way.’
“Some weeks later, this sister was traveling on a train. During the journey, the passengers who sat opposite her helped with her luggage and cared for her needs with special compassion for her affliction. The sister thought, ‘What can I do to repay them?’ In a few moments she leaned across and said, ‘I want to give you something for your kindness. I have a great gift to give you, if you will accept it.’
“The new friends smiled. How could this woman, obviously not well-off, give them a great gift? Politely, they thanked her and said it wasn’t necessary. She gently persisted. One of the women finally said, ‘I will be glad to accept it.’
“The member sister replied, ‘This gift is not of money or jewelry; it is a gift of the Holy Spirit. I know that God lives. I know that Jesus is the Christ. I know that living on the earth today is one of God’s prophets who reveals to us the word of God. This great gift of knowledge I can give to you.’
“The woman, interested in spite of the odd situation, asked, ‘How?’
“‘Give me your address and I will send to you two young men who will explain.’ This was done.
“The woman [did join the Church] and [so did] seven of her friends and relatives” (“‘I Have a Great Gift to Give You’” in Leon Hartshorn, comp., Inspirational Missionary Stories , 168–69).
A copy of the Book of Mormon, a Church brochure, or a Church book can do much to prepare people to receive the missionaries. Patricia Lett, a schoolteacher, told the following story of how one of her students prepared her to receive the missionaries:
“One day last spring Carol put a [book of children’s stories from the Book of Mormon] on my desk and asked if I would like to read it.
“‘Fine, Carol, I’ll be happy to read it,’ I said.
“Since school was closing soon and I had many things to do, I forgot all about the book. But Carol didn’t. It wasn’t long before I heard a little voice saying, ‘Mrs. Lett, have you read my book?’ …
“I did read it. …
“The next day she presented me with a copy of the Book of Mormon. A few days later I heard the little voice again, ‘Mrs. Lett, would you like to meet some people from our church?’ …
“The next Friday Elders Grassley and Lott were at my classroom door ten minutes before the class was over” (“By Your Pupils You’ll Be Taught” in Leon Hartshorn, comp., Inspirational Missionary Stories , 70–71).
Even children can be good member missionaries.
It is important that we take time to do as the Holy Ghost directs. His promptings may seem insignificant at the time, so we need to learn to listen and heed them. Sister Catherine A. Martin told of her experience in being guided by the Holy Ghost:
“I remember the first time I saw the little shop. As I walked past, … I had the strangest feeling … that seemed to say to me that there was someone in that shop that should be a member of the Church. I was in a hurry, though, so I went on. … I passed the little shop several more times, and each time I would have this strong feeling telling me that I should go inside. … One day … I passed the shop on foot and was practically pulled inside by this overwhelming sensation that there was something of spiritual interest within.
“Opening the door, … I could see picture frames of all shapes and sizes. …
“As I glanced around the room, … a painting on the wall caught my eye. It was one of a series of drawings of soldiers in different uniforms. Something told me that it was the artist who had done these drawings that I should talk with about the gospel!
“I asked the [shopkeeper] if he could possibly give me the address of the artist. He hesitated and said that the artist had insisted that he never give out any more information than just his name, but then said, ‘You know, I have a feeling that this time he would not mind. I will call him and give him your name and phone number.’
“The artist … did call me and we decided to meet and discuss art and history. …
“I remember saying to him that I knew something that he should know—something that would change his entire life for the better. He was interested in just what that could be. So, with such encouragement, I proceeded to tell him about the restoration of Christ’s Church upon the earth. I told him about my search for the truth and the desire I had to know what the Lord would have me be. Then I told him about the strange and wonderful events that led to my discovery of the gospel and the beauty that entered my life at the same time. …
“He was receptive to what had been said, but he reserved the right to study and evaluate before giving any response. [He] was open, honest, and diligent in his efforts to know the truth, and in the face of much outside opposition was baptized. …
“The Lord truly knows and loves each one of us. He knows those that are ready to hear his word and if we are prayerful and will perform our duty he will guide us to those righteous individuals. I have had some beautiful experiences through the whisperings of the Spirit, which is a gift available to all of us if only we will love and value another’s exaltation as our own” (“Whisperings of the Spirit” in Margie Calhoun Jensen, comp., Stories of Insight and Inspiration , 124–25).
How did the Spirit prompt Sister Martin to find this man? How can we become more sensitive to the promptings of the Spirit?
Elder Adney Y. Komatsu said:
“Many of you here are the first in your families to join the Church. You are indeed the pioneers of your family. …
“As you discuss the gospel principles with your parents, friends, and neighbors, do not be discouraged when they do not listen or understand the principles that you are trying to teach them. Let us be patient and remember our parents, brothers, and sisters, and friends are very important people in our lives. We love them, and we want the best for them, which is the gospel of Jesus Christ. Our personal happiness and joy in this world and the world to come includes family exaltation.
“If, as a single person, you are still living with your parents and brothers and sisters and they do not accept your new way of life, honor them, love them, and by your example show them the beautiful truths of the gospel” (in Conference Report, Korea Area Conference 1977, 4).
Missionary work is not done to bring glory to ourselves. We must love the people we have chosen to help. We must give them our sincere, lasting friendship, even if they do not accept the gospel or if it takes them many years.
We can introduce the Church to others by inviting them to participate with us in church activities. We can arrange to have a special family home evening with another family and invite the missionaries to attend. We should invite our nonmember friends and relatives to attend church with us. There they can learn about the Church for themselves and decide if they want to know more.
Sister Villafranca of San Fernando, Mexico, invited 50 people into her one-room home, where the missionaries held a special Sunday School. Afterwards the people were invited to remain for the first discussion. Several of these people were later baptized, and within six years there was a branch with 200 members in San Fernando. (See Glenn V. Bird, “Miracle at San Fernando,” New Era, Jan. 1977, 28–29.)
Have one or two sisters tell briefly how they became interested in the Church.
We are here to help each other progress. We need to take care of one another as children of the Lord. President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “I am convinced that we will lose but very, very few of those who come into the Church if we take better care of them” (“Find the Lambs, Feed the Sheep,” Ensign, May 1999, 109).
When we have new members among us it is our responsibility to put forth every effort to be friendly and helpful to them. They may feel strange. We must make them feel at home. This is called fellowshipping. Fellowshipping means encouraging and helping each other to enjoy the full blessings of the gospel. It is showing courtesy and kindness, sharing experiences, and extending service and love. We fellowship by being a good friend and neighbor.
The Church helps us do this in many ways. It provides programs such as visiting teaching that encourage us to serve others. It provides meetings where we can associate with each other. And it provides instruction in the correct expression of our love and concern.
We should also be concerned with those families among us who have a father, mother, son, or daughter who is not a member. These families need us. By fellowshipping them and sharing with them our understanding and love, we may help these part-member families become united in the gospel.
Read Ephesians 2:19–20. How can we show new members that we love and accept them?
It is the responsibility of Latter-day Saints to preach the gospel to the world. To do this, every one of us should be a missionary. We should prepare friends and neighbors to receive the missionary lessons. It is not necessary that all go forth into the world, but we must tell our friends and neighbors about the gospel. Also, by being faithful to the commandments of the Lord, we show those around us the way to eternal life. We can help new members by inviting them to attend church with us. We should be friendly to them at church and in the neighborhood. We should always welcome strangers who come to our meetings.
Prayerfully choose one of the ways to do missionary work discussed in this lesson. Select a friend or family member to teach.
Before presenting this lesson:
Study Gospel Principles chapter 33, “Missionary Work.”
Prepare the poster suggested in the lesson or write the information on the chalkboard.
Assign class members to present any stories, scriptures, or quotations you wish.