Photographs by Marie Barber and David Pickup
In July 2013, Jesse B., 19, of Hampshire, England, was practicing for the first British Pageant with hundreds of Church members near the Preston England Temple. While he was excited for the pageant to begin, Jesse’s attention was divided between learning his part and thinking about a mailbox nearly 200 miles away where his mission call would soon be delivered.
It wasn’t long before Jesse’s family texted him a picture of his missionary envelope, and he learned that his dad would bring it to him a few days later. During an afternoon rehearsal, Jesse’s dad walked in, call in hand. Rehearsal stopped and Jesse opened his mission call in front of the whole cast. When he read the words, “You are assigned to labor in the Korea Seoul Mission,” he was ecstatic.
Jesse knew the truth of the gospel, so he was willing to spend two years in Korea sharing it. “I wouldn’t serve a mission without the compass of truth,” he said. “Truth is truth. It isn’t necessarily the easy way, but it’s the right way.”
That’s a message he’d heard a lot about in preparing for the pageant, which tells the story of the early Saints in the British Isles. In the opening scene, two of the first missionaries to go to Britain see a banner that reads, “Truth will prevail,” and this becomes their missionary motto. That motto resonated with Jesse too, and it’s a message he’s anxious to share as a missionary.
Like these missionaries and like Jesse, the other youth who performed in the British Pageant also know that “truth will prevail,” and they want to help others know it too. Truth can bring peace, joy, and hope to everyone, and because these teens know that, they’re learning how to share the gospel with others.
Making the Effort
Rebecca B., 15, of Leicestershire, England, played the role of Mary Alice Cannon, a young woman who was converted to the gospel and traveled to America with her family in the early history of the Church. During her time acting in the pageant, Rebecca had many chances to share the gospel. After one performance, Rebecca saw a young woman who was standing alone and decided to talk with her. “I discovered that she was not a Church member and that she came to the pageant because her friend was in it,” Rebecca said. Rebecca talked with her more and found out that she was attending some Church activities.
“A couple days later, I was able to get a Book of Mormon for her,” Rebecca said. “I wrote a note in it and then gave it to her friend to give to her. That was the first Book of Mormon I’ve given away, and the experience has helped me know that Heavenly Father will prepare a way for all of His children to receive the truth of the gospel someday.”
Helping Others Come
In 2011, the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles gave approval for the first-ever British Pageant. During an audition for a role in the pageant, Matt P., 12, from Lincolnshire, England, met a man who had faith in these servants of the Lord. Because of his testimony of the Apostles, the man told Matt, “I know this pageant is the work of God.” The man then explained that because of that knowledge, he wanted members and nonmembers from South Wales to attend the pageant and learn more about the restored gospel, so he booked and paid for three buses to take them.
“At that time, five months before the pageant,” Matt explained, “no one knew how the pageant would turn out.” The cast was made up of people who aren’t professional actors, and it took a true leap of faith to believe that the cast could put together a professional production with just a few weeks of practice. However, the man Matt talked with knew that the messages of truth in the pageant would touch the audience’s hearts—and he wanted others to have a chance to attend.
“His faith, above all other spiritual experiences at the pageant, touched me the most,” said Matt. “I never learned his name, but if I could, I would like to tell him thank you.” It was a moment that showed how you can find many ways to help others receive messages of the gospel—messages of truth.
Sacrificing to Share
Will R., 15, of Cheshire, England, first heard about the British Pageant from ward friends and decided to audition because it sounded fun. When he got the part of David Ashton, a young man who learned the truth by reading the Book of Mormon, he knew that he would have to make a sacrifice if he accepted the role.
Participating meant that Will would have to give up his summer vacation. Instead of doing his normal summer activities, he’d have to attend weeks of long rehearsals. But Will knew he would be blessed if he accepted the part, because if he did, he’d be sharing his testimony through acting, singing, and dancing all summer long.
In the end, the sacrifice he made to share the gospel “was worth it.” Will explained that because of his sacrifice, he not only “learned so much and made new friends,” but he also grew spiritually. “Being in the pageant has increased my testimony,” he said. “As I met and heard the testimonies of other youth, their examples strengthened my own testimony.” Will felt the truth in his own life, and it strengthened him—which will better help him share it with others too.
Recognizing the Purpose
For Ben H., 18, of North Lanarkshire, Scotland, the pageant was a great opportunity to share his faith and love of the restored gospel. Ben enjoyed his time performing, but the best lesson he learned was the importance of the gospel principles taught in the pageant. “The most important thing I learned was that the purpose of the production was to invite all to come unto Christ,” Ben said. While mingling with the audience at the end of a performance, Ben met a young man his age who had received a prompting during the pageant to serve a mission. The young man hugged Ben and thanked him for the performance. “He and I were both crying, and I was touched. I knew that was the reason I was there participating in the pageant.”
And even though he enjoyed his time on stage, Ben recognizes that the work doesn’t stop at the end of a performance or a pageant. “It doesn’t end when the production ends, because the production wasn’t the important thing. The important thing was that I was learning to be a missionary” and that others were learning about gospel truth.
Seeking to Share
Jesse, Rebecca, Matt, Will, and Ben each came to know the power of sharing the truth, and now they’re learning to share it with others. You may not be able to participate in a Church history pageant, but you can still receive the blessings of sharing the gospel like the members of the British Pageant. You just have to contribute what you can. As Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has said, “Heed the promptings of the Spirit. Supplicate the Lord in mighty prayer. Become engaged in doing what you can in sharing the great message of the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ” (“Put Your Trust in the Lord,” Ensign, Nov. 2013, 45). If you’re nervous at first, don’t worry. You can rely on the wisdom the early missionaries learned in the British Isles: Truth will prevail.
Editor’s note: For tips on simple ways to share the gospel, visit lds.org/go/shareNE7.
Download the Music
What Youth Learned at the British Pageant about Sharing the Gospel
Do it! It takes courage, but your confidence in sharing the gospel will increase as you do it.
Learn about sharing the gospel from others. Look to their example for encouragement.
Be willing to make sacrifices to share—it’s worth it!
Remember that truth is truth, and the truth can bring peace, joy, and hope to those you share it with.
The British Pageant: By the Numbers
around 20,000 people attended
150 choir members
50 backstage crew members
300+ cast members
1 tent that was 148 feet (45 m) long, 98 feet (30 m) wide, and 56 feet (17 m) high
60+-foot (18-m) stage to perform on—one of the largest in the UK