This past week I sat in a Relief Society meeting in Portland, Ore. The lesson focused on “gathering,” and the teacher asked the women seated in the room to describe how they had been “gathered” to the gospel.
- A middle-aged woman raised her hand, “When I was a teenager, I worked at the ice cream parlor where kids would come after MIA (now the Young Men and Young Women organizations). They talked to me. They were friendly and fun and asked me if I wanted to come with them to some of their activities. I did, and here I am.”
- Another woman described, “I saw the missionaries coming and I knew who they were. I told my 6-year-old not to answer the door when they knocked, not to let them in. He answered the door.”
- “My mother joined the church, then my brother joined and they gathered me in.”
- “I was in the break room and there was a woman sitting in there. I noticed and asked her why she never drank coffee. She explained, ‘It’s not good for you.’ That started a conversation and eventually the missionaries came and taught me the gospel.”
- A woman said, “When I was a Muslim living in Missouri, I saw the temple in Kirtland. A voice told me to stop. I looked up information on my phone. I learned about the Mormon temple thing, and now here I am.”
- “I was born and raised in the church in a good family and gained a testimony in my home.”
- “My husband converted me.”
The teacher followed with another question, “How have you gathered others in?”
- “My boys and I gathered my parents and the boy who moved in with us by talking and teaching about the church after we joined.”
- “I helped a woman who was confused and struggling in the grocery store one day. I befriended her, took her under my wing, listened and helped her. She came into the church.”
- “It didn’t take a lot for me to help someone ‘gather’ — just be a friend.”
- A proud grandmother stated, “After a recent interview by Anderson Cooper with Baptist pastor Robert Jeffress who called Mormonism a cult, my grandson went on Facebook. He wrote, ‘I’m a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Please ask me what we believe or go to LDS.org.’ My grandson declared himself and lots and lots of his friends and acquaintances have contacted him with questions.”
The Lord’s response should not surprise any of us. In one form or another, he repeated a consistent command. To John Whitmer and to Peter Whitmer, he said, “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 ...” (see Doctrine and Covenants 15:6 and 16:6).
In a revelation given to Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer, the Lord declared, “Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God. Wherefore, you are called to cry repentance unto this people. And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!” (see Doctrine and Covenants 18: 10, 15).
Speaking to six elders prior to a conference of the church, the Lord directed, “Ye are chosen out of the world to declare my gospel with the sound of rejoicing. And ye are called to bring to pass the gathering of mine elect; for mine elect hear my voice and harden not their hearts” (see Doctrine and Covenants 29:4, 7).
Moroni, shortly before his death, exhorted members in our day “to call men unto repentance by declaring the word of Christ (by) bear(ing) testimony of him. And by so doing, the Lord God prepareth the way that the residue of men may have faith in Christ” (see Moroni 7:31).
Last Sunday, I joined a small assembly of humble, regular, everyday women who reminded me not only of the importance of sharing the gospel with others but of many simple ways we can fulfil the Lord’s commission to bring souls to Christ.
Kristine Frederickson writes on issue-oriented topics that affect members of the LDS Church worldwide in her column “LDS World.”
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