03342_000_011The following situations and responses from New Era readers are to provide perspective and insight. These suggestions should not be considered counsel from the General Authorities or pronouncements of the Church.
I am an 18-year-old girl, and I have a good friend at school. He is my age, and we are able to share serious things and funny things. He used to be a strong member of the Church, but now he has become inactive. I know that if only his attitude toward the Church would change, he would have unlimited opportunities. He has strong leadership qualities. I know going on a mission would help him tremendously, and he would be able to bless many people. But both his parents are nonmembers, and his attitude seems to indicate he does not want to go. How can I help? What should I do?
“In a case like this, friends are very important. You can help your friend by talking to him about the Church and about his problems. Find out why he became inactive. Show him how much the Church means to you. Then maybe your friend will follow your example and try to be more like you. Actions say more than words.”
Monica Daddio Trenton, New Jersey
“I’m 18, too, and had been inactive for several years. Recently this changed. My branch president began visiting me, and he gained my trust to the point that I talked with him about my problems. This greatly relieved the burden I was carrying.
“The missionaries also began visiting me. I began reading the Book of Mormon and praying again. Much of this was because of a long period of fasting, praying, and fellowshipping by members of the Church. Because these people would consistently show their love for me, I gradually came around. They also showed me how the Church could help me with personal goals.
“If you truly want to reconvert your friend, try doing with him what my friends did with me. And pray for the Lord to soften his heart. With God’s help, he’ll come around. I know I did. But it may take a while.”
Braun Thompson Austin, Minnesota
“I don’t know how to make someone’s attitude toward the gospel change, but I had an experience that you might be able to relate to the situation that you are presently in.
“During the time I lived in Ohio, I was one of only four Latter-day Saints in my school. I had a nonmember friend who sat next to me in study hall. I mentioned one day that I had moved to Ohio from Utah. From then on I just expressed my love and enthusiasm for the gospel. I offered him a Book of Mormon, which he read and found to be true. He took the missionary discussions and soon was baptized. Now he is looking forward to a mission.
“So because of this experience, I think one of the best ways to help your friend change his attitude is not to preach, but rather to radiate the light of the gospel and show him your love and enthusiasm for it. Don’t ever pass by an opportunity to share your testimony with him.
“If he becomes active, I think it is important to encourage him to go on a mission. My family and I are converts, and we are forever thankful to the young men and women who sacrificed two years of their lives to bring the gospel to us. We are happier now than we have ever been.
“Be prayerful about everything you do. I know Heavenly Father wants that special son back into the gospel as much as you do.”
Laurie Jenkins Manti, Utah
“My friend was a leader, too, but not in the Church. He also had inactive parents who offered little support. I could see so much potential if only his attitude toward the Church were positive. The only important quality he lacked was a testimony.
“We had many long talks together about the Church. Sometimes he would laugh at the things I would say. I would be hurt and often cried. One night, with tears in my eyes, I finally shared my testimony of Joseph Smith and the gospel plan. From the look in his eyes, I knew he would not laugh at me again.
“He began praying, studying, and attending church. Once he got a taste of the Spirit, there was no stopping him. He was on a mission within a few months. He brought many people into the Church and continues to do so. And now I am his wife!”
Joyce M. Ashton Fremont, California
“I have recently encountered a similar situation. My friend’s mother is an inactive member, and she discourages her son from going on a mission. My friend is very confused and doubts his testimony.
“I feel that as a girl I should support the priesthood, and I feel responsible for this young man’s future. I have found it best to listen to his feelings and give him support and encouragement.
“Bear your testimony to your friend and tell him how the Church has strengthened your life. Express your confidence in him and tell him of the wonderful qualities you know he has.
“‘Thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness.’ (Rom. 2:19.)”
L. C. Abernathy Frederick, Maryland
“About two years ago I was in the same situation as the young man. My job and other interests had taken me away from the Church. Then one afternoon three young women who were members stopped by the ski shop where I worked and brought me a batch of cookies. They said they missed me and cared about me.
“It wasn’t until a month or so later I took one of them to a stake dance. (Or did she take me?) I really had a good time. A little while later, I went to church. At first I had a hard time explaining where I had been, but the warmth of the ward was overwhelming.
“They got me teaching a Sunday School class for the 10-year-olds, and now they’ve got me serving a mission for the Lord! My life has changed tremendously. I love my mission, and I love the Lord. I know there are thousands of missionaries like myself with this type of story. Hopefully, through our love and prayers, your friend will soon be one, too.”
Elder Gary Christensen Atlanta Georgia Mission
“My advice would be to tell him abruptly how much you love the Church and then ask him how he feels about it. Then try to answer any questions or problems he may have. Pray and fast for him. Tell him going on a mission is the best thing for him.
“If you can still talk to him seriously, tell him to fast and pray also. Tell him to get a patriarchal blessing. It will help him a lot. Keep telling him how much you love the Church; bear your testimony to him. Tell him how happy you are and that he can be happy, too. No matter how hard it gets, don’t stop.
“I think this will help you. It has helped me. You see, my brother and I are the only members in our entire family.”
Jerry Mason Gilbert, Arizona
“Being involved in a situation quite similar to this, I once asked myself the same questions. The story “By the Way She Is,” in the September 1976 issue of the New Era, gave me some advice I’d like to pass on to you.
“As Bradley, in that story, says, ‘A girl has a lot of influence, and if you like her, you try to do the things that impress her. If good things impress her, then that is what you try to do.’
“But don’t be a hypocrite. You can’t expect him to do something you aren’t willing to do. You have to step out and be the leader—set the example. Don’t try to tell him what to do, but show him.
“You can’t force him to go on a mission; the decision has to be his own. But by living the gospel, he will feel God’s light radiating from you when he is in your presence. Results may come slowly, but if you don’t quit, they will come. I know they will.”
Arleen Monson Gridley, California
“One caution—do not, in an effort to be more fair with your friend, lower any of your standards. This would not help him. It would only harm you and help him feel better about the things he is doing wrong. Try tolerance without compromise.”
Teresa Whiting Salt Lake City, Utah
“If I were the inactive member, I would need companionship and encouragement from my active friend. I would know that my inactive parents wouldn’t try to encourage me. So do unto others as you would have them do unto you—sit down and have a friend-to-friend talk with your friend. Spend a large amount of time with him. He’ll be most grateful. Ask the Lord for guidance in all you do. It is important that your friend be active again.”
Terry Weese Port Stanley, Ontario, Canada