Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
If every Church member reaches out to just one person, millions will feel the love of the Lord Jesus Christ, Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve said during the Saturday afternoon session of general conference on Oct. 5.
“The Lord is hastening His work,” he said. “In our day, this can only be done when every member of the Church reaches out with love to share the truths of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. We need to work together in partnership with our nearly 80,000 missionaries now serving.”
A good resource for information for stake and ward council leaders is on the lds.org website entitled ”Hastening the Work of Salvation,” the apostle taught.
“We know from our research that most active members of the Church want the blessings of the gospel to be part of the lives of others whom they love, even those whom they have never met,” he said. ‘We also know that many members hesitate to do missionary work and share the gospel for two basic reasons.
The first reason is fear, he said. “Many members do not even pray for opportunities to share the gospel, fearing that they might receive divine promptings to do something they think they are not capable of doing.”
The second reason is a misunderstanding of what missionary work is. “Now we know that no one likes feeling guilty,” he said. “Perhaps you feel that you might be asked to do unrealistic things in your relationships with friends or neighbors. With the help of the Lord let me remove any fear you or any of our full-time missionaries may have in sharing the gospel with others. Make the decision to do what Jesus Christ has asked us to do.”
Elder Ballard taught that fear will be replaced with faith and confidence as members and missionaries kneel in prayer and ask the Lord to bless them with missionary opportunities. Then, they must demonstrate their faith and watch for opportunities to introduce the gospel of Jesus Christ to all of Heavenly Father’s children.
“Surely the opportunities will come,” he said.
These opportunities will never require a forced or contrived response and will flow naturally, he said. “Just be positive, and those you speak with will feel your love. They will never forget that feeling even though the timing may not be right for them to embrace the gospel. That, too, may change in the future when their circumstances change.”
It is impossible to fail when you do your best when you are on the Lord’s errand, he said. While the outcome is a result of the exercise of agency, sharing is every Church member’s responsibility.
“Trust the Lord. He is the good shepherd. He knows His sheep, and His sheep know His voice; and today, the voice of the Good Shepherd is your voice and my voice,” he said. “And if we are not engaged, many who would hear the message of the Restoration will be passed by. Simply stated, it’s a matter of faith and action on our part.”
The principles are simple, he said, and members are most effective through praying — personally and as families — for missionary opportunities.
“You don’t have to be an outgoing person or an eloquent or persuasive teacher,” he said. “If you have an abiding love and hope within you, the Lord has promised that if you ‘lift up your voices unto this people, speak the thoughts that [He] shall put into your hearts, you shall not be confounded before men and it shall be given you in the very moment what ye shall say' (Doctrine and Covenants 100:5-6).
Elder Ballard said the Lord is aware of everyone’s situation and understands personal challenges. The key, he noted, is seeking inspiration from God by asking Him for direction, and then going and doing as the Spirit prompts.
“When members view the work of salvation as their responsibility alone, it can be intimidating,” he said. “When they view it as an invitation to follow the Lord in bringing souls unto Him to be taught by the full-time elders and sisters, it is inspiring, invigorating and uplifting.”
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