Missionaries are engaged in the greatest work in all the world—saving the souls of our Father in Heaven’s children. There isn’t anything so important, so precious, so enjoyable, so soul-satisfying. Through the Prophet Joseph Smith the Lord proclaimed, “The thing which will be of the most worth unto you will be to declare repentance unto this people, that you may bring souls unto me” (D&C 15:6).
As members of the Lord’s Church, we must take missionary work seriously. If you are laboring as you should, if you love this work, you will be helping to save the souls of the children of men.
No person can read section one of the Doctrine and Covenants, realizing that the Church accepts it as the word of the Lord, and ask why we send missionaries into all parts of the world. The responsibility, and a major one it is, falls squarely upon the membership of the Church, for “the voice of warning,” says the Lord, “shall be unto all people, by the mouths of my disciples, whom I have chosen in these last days” (D&C 1:4).
One of our best missionary tools is the sterling example of members who live the gospel. This is what the Lord meant when He said to the Church, “Zion must increase in beauty, and in holiness; … Zion must arise and put on her beautiful garments” (D&C 82:14). The Lord will sustain members in their missionary responsibility if they just have the faith to try.
What the Lord expects
It is time to raise our sights, to get a vision of the magnitude of this great work. The Lord expects it of us. It is not enough just to be members of the Church and go to sacrament meeting. That is good—but that is not enough. The Lord expects us to be missionaries, to live the gospel—yes, wholly, and to help to build up His kingdom.
You will not be an effective missionary until you learn to have sympathy for all of our Father’s children—until you learn to love them. People can feel when love is extended to them. Many yearn for it. When you sympathize with their feelings, they in turn will reciprocate goodwill to you. You will have made a friend.
How long has it been since you have invited a neighbor to sacrament meeting or to a stake conference, or to come into your home for a home evening? How long has it been since you had a real gospel conversation? These are choice experiences.
I encourage you not only to read the biblical account of Christ’s Resurrection, but to read and share with a nonmember acquaintance the Book of Mormon account of Christ’s personal manifestation to those in America following His Resurrection. Give them or lend them a copy of the Book of Mormon, even your own copy if necessary. It could bless them eternally.
The Book of Mormon is the great standard we are to use in our missionary work. It shows that Joseph Smith was a prophet. It contains the words of Christ, and its great mission is to bring us to Christ. All other things are secondary. The golden question of the Book of Mormon is, Do you want to learn more of Christ?
The Book of Mormon is for both member and nonmember. Combined with the Spirit of the Lord, the Book of Mormon is the greatest tool which God has given us to convert the world. If we are to have the harvest of souls, we must use the instrument which God has designed for the task—the Book of Mormon.
And reading the Book of Mormon is one of the greatest persuaders to get us on missions. We need more missionaries. But we also need better-prepared missionaries coming out of the wards and branches and homes where they know and love the Book of Mormon. We need missionaries who have a burning testimony of its divinity, and who, by the Spirit, can challenge their investigators to read and ponder its pages, knowing with complete assurance that the Lord will manifest the truth of it to them by the power of the Holy Ghost. We need missionaries to match our message.
Give me a young man who has kept himself morally clean and has faithfully attended his Church meetings. Give me a young man who has magnified his priesthood and has earned his Duty to God Award and is an Eagle Scout. Give me a young man who is a seminary graduate and has a burning testimony of the Book of Mormon. Give me such a young man and I will give you a young man who can perform miracles for the Lord in the mission field and throughout his life.
Remember, young women, you may also have the opportunity to serve a full-time mission. I am grateful my eternal companion served a mission in Hawaii before we were married, and I am pleased that I have had granddaughters serve full-time missions. Some of our finest missionaries are sisters.
To succeed in sharing the gospel, whether as full-time missionaries or as member missionaries, you must have a burning testimony of the divinity of this work. Your first obligation is to get that testimony through prayer, through fasting, through meditation, through study, through appealing to the Lord to give you the testimony, and through responding to calls when they come to you. You must know that God lives; that Jesus is the Christ, the Redeemer of the world; that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God; and that the priesthood and authority of our Heavenly Father is here.
Not only should sharing the gospel be regarded as a priesthood duty, but we should all look forward to this experience with great joy and anticipation. The real purpose in sharing the gospel is to bring souls unto Christ, to teach and baptize our Heavenly Father’s children so that we may rejoice with them (see D&C 18:15) in the kingdom of our Father.