“Thank you, President, I’ll be there tomorrow.”
What a great man, I thought to myself as I hung up the telephone. President Jerry E. Callister of the Mississippi Jackson Mission had just extended a two-week mission call to me to serve the Lord in the Bossier City, Louisiana, area. What a way to find out what true missionary work is like, I said to myself over and over.
I spent the next 24 hours packing, praying, and preparing myself for everything I could possibly come in contact with during the next two weeks. I prayed that I would be helpful to the missionaries, Elders Abbott and Watkins, with whom I would serve.
Saturday came quickly. My family drove me to Bossier, where we ate lunch before I called the elders from a pay phone across the street. After what seemed like an eternity but was only 10 or 15 minutes, the two young men, only a few years older than myself, pulled alongside us in their late-model mission car. I didn’t know what to do or how to act, but Mom quickly nudged me towards them. I timidly introduced myself to Elder Abbott. What a spiritual giant; I can’t possibly be of help to him, I thought to myself. And I questioned why I was out there.
After meeting Elder Watkins, I had nearly convinced myself that I couldn’t be of help to either of them.
I said good-bye to my family, and before I knew it the elders and I were out on the streets knocking on doors. I was amazed at how eloquently the elders approached the people. After an hour of tracting, Elder Abbott turned to me and said, “This house is yours.” I almost panicked. Out of nowhere I had this bone-chilling, nerve-deadening feeling.
“I can’t,” I said embarrassed.
“Yes you can,” he said. “You’ve got to think positively. There may be a potential convert in there.”
“Okay, okay,” I answered.
As the door opened I could feel my heart sink down to my socks. The room was filled with drunken teenagers—I was only a teenager myself. As I began the door approach they began mocking and tempting us. Why me, Lord? I silently asked.
I didn’t knock on another door the rest of the evening. Later that night I began thinking about my day as a “full-time” missionary. Why did I have such feelings? Why was I scared to talk to people about the gospel? How would I be able to serve a two-year mission if I couldn’t even stand up to people and share the truths of the gospel for two weeks? I decided that there was only one way to get help with my concerns.
As I knelt down in humble prayer and poured out the desires of my heart to Heavenly Father, a peaceful feeling came over me. A still, small voice told me to search the scriptures. I began flipping through the pages of my Bible when I saw a verse outlined in red. It was a seminary scripture from the previous year. As I glanced down at it I knew my prayer had been answered. A warm feeling of insight and understanding came over me as I read the verse: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth” (Rom. 1:16).
Never before had this scripture come across to me with such astounding force. “The power of God unto salvation,” I said aloud. That was the key. I need not be ashamed of the gospel because it is the very key to salvation. Without it, not one soul will ever progress after this life.
The next morning I awoke with an inexpressible desire to spread the gospel.
Now five of the people I helped teach in those two weeks are members of the Church. What a strength we can receive through listening to the promptings of the Spirit!
I vividly remember the feeling I had as the Holy Ghost bore witness to me of that important scriptural message found in Romans. And to this day when I am confronted with an opportunity to share the gospel, that same still, small voice whispers in my ear, “the power of … salvation, the power of … salvation.”