The Messenger and the Message

Area Leadership Message

By Elder Faustino López, Spain
Area Seventy

In Preach My Gospel we read: “Some chapters in Preach My Gospel focus on what you need to do as a missionary—how to study, how to teach… Just as vital as what you do, however, is who you are.”[1] Both of these things are connected: “Beyond my words and teachings and spoken witness, my life must be part of that testimony of Jesus. My very being should reflect the divinity of this work.”[2]

Missionary work has two aspects: the messenger and the message, and both of these must be united. Jesus Christ is the perfect example. In Him, the messenger and the message are one and the same: “I am the way, and the truth and the life.”[3] Missionaries must strive to follow the example of Jesus Christ insofar as possible, and to incorporate the message He bears. It is as if missionaries were to say to a future convert, “If you accept the message that we bring and live it, you will become a Latter-day Saint, of whom we are examples.” And it is the same thing that happens when the missionaries bring the people whom they are teaching to church. The message they receive upon entering the chapel and meeting the members is: “This is what awaits you, if you get baptized: to become a part of this people, to be with these people and be one of them.”

For this reason, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve said, “Surely there is no more powerful missionary message we can send to this world than the example of a loving and happy Latter-day Saint life. The manner and bearing, the smile and kindness of a faithful member of the Church brings a warmth and an outreach which no missionary tract or videotape can convey.”[4] People’s conversion is not only to know if the missionaries’ message is true or not; it is also to be willing to live it in the company of other Church members. For this reason Elder Holland also said, “No mission or missionaries can ultimately succeed without the loving participation and spiritual support of the local members working with them in a balanced effort.”[5] Conversion requires that I be interested in the message and in the messenger.

I well remember the missionaries who taught me. I was 19 years old, and they, who were as young as I was, seemed to be and to have what I had been seeking all of my life. I wanted to have what they had and to become what they were. And when they took me to church—to the only branch that then existed in Madrid—and I met that group of Mormons, I wanted to be one of them. They were the type of people I wanted to be. And I got baptized in order to be one of them, to be with them.

As President Spencer W. Kimball explained: “The gathering of Israel consists of [investigators] joining the true church and their coming to a knowledge of the true God.”[6] When I got baptized, I then came to be a part of a people, a member of a new society, a fellow citizen with the saints.[7] Those who fail to develop a new identity and become a part of this new society end up returning to where they came from. For this reason, all of us who are in the Church have the duty to do everything possible to help those who enter the waters of baptism feel they belong, keeping in mind that in the Church there are “no more strangers,” but rather “fellow citizens with the Saints, and members of the household of God.”[8] As the missionaries share the message, we as members become the messengers of what it means to be a Latter-day Saint.

[1] Preach My Gospel, “Developing Christlike Attributes,” p. 115
[2] Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, “The Miracles of the Restoration,” Liahona, January 1995, p. 35; in Missionary Preparation, Religion 130, student manual, p. 5.
[3] John 14:6
[4] Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, “Witnesses Unto Me,” General Conference, April 2001.
[5] Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, “Witnesses Unto Me,” op. cit.
[6] The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, edited by Edward L. Kimball, 1982, p. 439; in Missionary Preparation, Religion 130, student manual, p. 4.
[7] See Ephesians 2:19.

[8] Ephesians 2:19.