by Lara Mayo Bangerter
Have you ever had a friend you wanted to share the gospel with but haven’t known where to begin? Here are some tips from the Missionary Guide, used by missionaries around the world.
Be a Friend First
Set a Christlike example. The Lord said, “Show forth good examples unto them in me, and I will make an instrument of thee in my hands unto the salvation of many souls” (Alma 17:11).
Use words they’ll understand. “I would like to bear my testimony to you” is not a familiar phrase to most people. It would be better to say, “I would like to share with you what I know about Christ.”
Point out common beliefs. For example, your friend likes to say the prayers in prayer books. You should say, “Hey, prayer is very important in my religion too,” instead of, “Oh, we don’t have prayer books. We say the prayer that is in our heart.”
Show true understanding. For instance, your friend calls and says, “I’m sorry, but I can’t go to church with you tomorrow. Mom is sick, and I need to help take care of the kids.” You could say, “See you Monday at school,” but it would be better to say, “That’s too bad. I’ve had to do the same before for my mom.”
Invite the Spirit
You need to help your friends feel the Spirit and recognize it when they do. Here are some ways to accomplish this:
Bear your testimony. It’s not always easy to deliver a testimony outside of church, so act on any chances you get to talk about your commitment to the gospel. When your friend asks, “Why do you go to church every Sunday?” you can respond with a quick affirmation of your commitment, “I like to go. I know my life runs more smoothly when I do.”
Share spiritual experiences. Elder Bruce R. McConkie said, “Perhaps the perfect pattern … is to teach what is found in the scriptures and then to put a seal of living reality upon it by telling a similar … thing that has happened in our dispensation and to our people and—most ideally—to us as individuals” (New Era, July 1978, p. 5).
Point out the promptings of the Holy Ghost. As you feel the Spirit, you can say, “How do you feel right now?” Your friend might say, “I don’t know.” You respond, “I feel really calm right now, and when I feel this way I know Heavenly Father’s Spirit is telling me that what I am hearing is true. Do you feel like that?” If they answer yes, you can ask them to describe what they are feeling and identify it as the Holy Ghost for them.
A Perfect Example
The Book of Mormon shows us how the preceding suggestions work, especially in Alma, chapter 18.
Ammon went into the land of Ishmael to teach the Lamanites, but was brought before the king to stand trial. Other offenders like Ammon were killed, but the king was flattered when Ammon said he would like to live in his land and serve him. So Lamoni gave Ammon a job herding his sheep.
Ammon made friends with the king.
While tending the king’s flocks, Ammon helped his co-workers round up the sheep after enemies scattered them. When the enemies returned for a second round, Ammon fought them off. In amazement, Ammon’s co-workers rushed back to the king to report Ammon’s incredible power.
Ammon showed his loyalty to the king and the power of God that was in him.
After the servants reported the day’s events to Lamoni, Ammon went before him also. Lamoni asked him by what power he could do such great things, and Ammon said, “Believest thou that there is a God?” (Alma 18:24). But Lamoni didn’t understand. So Ammon rephrased the question, “Believest thou that there is a Great Spirit? And he said, Yea. And Ammon said: This is God” (Alma 18:26–28).
Ammon used language Lamoni could understand.
Ammon taught King Lamoni about everything from the creation and the fall of man, to the plan of redemption. “And it came to pass that after he had said all these things, and expounded them to the king, that the king believed all his words” (Alma 18:40).
Ammon shared the gospel successfully.
Ammon made friends with King Lamoni. He represented Christ in his actions; he used language the king could understand; and he pointed out common beliefs they had. And because Ammon did these things, he was able to share spiritual experiences and help Lamoni feel the Holy Ghost.
After you have helped your friends feel and understand the gospel, like Ammon did for Lamoni and his household, your friends might just react similarly to Lamoni and his servants. “And they did all declare unto the people the self-same thing—that their hearts had been changed; that they had no more desire to do evil. … and as many as did believe were baptized” (Alma 19:33, 35).
“Things go fast when you work together, and when you work hard.” That’s the lesson Gail Morgan, 14, learned, when the Young Women of the Thetford Ward, Norwich England Stake, turned a port-a-cabin into a Young Women’s meeting room.
The cabin, located in the parking area adjacent to the meetinghouse, is a temporary solution to overcrowded facilities. “Before, we were meeting on the stage, with other classes all around, and it was very noisy,” said Tamaron Cary, 17. “Now, we’re separated from the noise.”
The Laurels made posters and used Mormonads to decorate the room, the Mia Maids made curtains, and the Beehives, who were busy on a Book of Mormon marking project of their own, joined the others as the curtains were hung and flowers placed in the room.
Susan Kehoe, a Laurel in the Mission Viejo First Ward, Mission Viejo California Stake, has made a name for herself by looking out for others. She’s the youngest, and only female, lifeguard on the San Clemente Beach.
Susan swims on a local swim team and got some of the toughness it takes to be a lifeguard from her three older brothers, who “never babied her.” To become a lifeguard, she had to go through grueling tests in swimming, running, pier jumping, and rescuing and lifesaving techniques.
It was probably the most spiritual experience the youth from the Baton Rouge Louisiana Stake can remember. Nearly 200 of them piled into five buses and traveled to Dallas for a few days of temple work and scripture study.
When not doing baptisms for the people on the four-generation sheets they’d prepared, they were reading the Book of Mormon, studying it, discussing it, even making skits from it. With each person in the group reading assigned pages, they read the Book of Mormon in a combined effort more than five times during the trip.
For many, it was their first time in a temple.
A seminary class of seniors in Clovis, California, know quite a bit about the value of true manhood and womanhood, as exemplified by the gospel. That’s because their teacher, Elaine Soldani, sets aside one week each for the boys to honor the girls, then for the girls to honor the boys.
During the week, they’re given five minutes at the beginning of class to do something for the honorees. The deeds include giving out homemade cookies, reading original poems, sharing scriptures on the importance of women and men and on the value of the priesthood, cooking breakfast, singing, treasure hunts, and other gestures made to help everyone feel appreciated. Class members say the support and love they feel for each other is amazing after these weeks.
“Seminary is a source of strength in many different areas in a young person’s life,” says Sister Soldani. “These special times have brought our youth closer in friendship and respect for themselves.”
The Mia Maids of the Thornton Ward, Denver Colorado North Stake, were looking for a good service project, so they contacted the local children’s hospital, which informed them of a need for someone to make kimonos for the premature babies. The Mia Maids had a great time obliging.
That number meant a lot to Canadians in 1992—that was the year the country celebrated 125 years of nationhood. And it meant even more to the youth of the North Island, Courtenay, Powell River, and Campbell branches in the Canada Vancouver Mission. They had a special activity to help them appreciate their history.
They had speakers in the community play the roles of some of the area’s great historical figures. They ate venison and salmon, and they participated in historic activities like whittling by the campfire, canoeing, panning for gold, and playing Nootka feather games.
Students in the Rigby, Idaho, seminary liked the October ’92 FYI’s goal jar idea so much they took it a step farther. Not only did they cut out all the goals from the New Era and put them in specially decorated jars, but they added goals of their own from the New Testament and general conference.
In addition, they started a project where one student would give another student a bead when the student was caught doing something nice or cheerful for someone else. Students string the beads and use them for bracelets, bookmarks, etc., and they say it encourages them to make a positive difference at their schools. One student said, “I found myself watching just for good things and decided that I wanted to do good too.”
One day, 14-year-old Mosiah Cooper of Tokoroa, New Zealand, was a busy teachers quorum president. The next day, due to a diving accident, he was completely paralyzed—barely able to blink, and breathing only with the help of a machine. It was doubtful that he would live, but with the fasting and prayers of his fellow Scouts, ward, and family, Mosiah survived.
Not only has he survived, but thrived. He can get around on his own in an electric wheelchair. He studies, learns, and designs on a computer he operates by blowing into a special instrument attached to his head. Seminary is held in his house so he can easily attend.
Mosiah will always be grateful to those who have done so much to help him. Members of the community have cooperated to provide him and his family with special equipment for his special needs. He feels that his faith in God, and the faith of others, saved him and made his life as full as it is today.