Thousands of missionaries from across the globe gathered together Jan. 10 to listen to apostolic counsel from a fellow witness of Jesus Christ and His restored gospel.
Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke at a missionary devotional at the Provo Missionary Training Center. The event was broadcast to more than a dozen other MTCs, either live or via tape delay.
A returned missionary and a former mission president, Elder Andersen has a special affection for missionaries. He spoke of his love and his gratitude for their service.
“Thank you for your faith, for your unselfishness and for your willingness to come forward and testify of His divinity,” he said.
In his remarks, Elder Andersen focused on three key concepts that will bless the missionaries during the length of their calls — and beyond.
First: Only with time can you see the full benefits of missionary service.
It’s impossible to measure the full “success” of one’s mission while laboring in the field. Hindsight and time offer clearer perspectives of the good that an elder or sister accomplishes.
Elder Andersen noted that he served his own full-time mission 45 years ago. The subsequent years have afforded him a better vision of the benefits of his own mission.
“Be patient with yourself,” he counseled. Enjoy this “exciting chapter” of life.
“With time you will look back over this experience and you will thank God that it was given to you,” he added.
Elder Andersen invited Gary L. Crittenden, a former Area Seventy, to share a key experience from his mission that would prove to have lifelong benefits.
Upon arriving in Germany, a young Elder Crittenden was met by a fellow missionary named Elder David A. Bednar, who now serves in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Thirty-five years later, that association led to miraculous help for someone they blessed together. God is in the details of our lives, Elder Andersen noted.
Second: Be looking for those from their mid-teens to their mid-twenties who are spiritually seeking.
Wherever a missionary is called, there are young people — his or her peers — who are seeking the truth. “You will find them and you can teach them.”
Elder Andersen showed a short clip of several young people who had joined the Church in recent years. Some were serving missions. Others were home from missions and studying in Utah. Each had been blessed because of the missionary efforts of young men and young women their own age.
Teens and young adults connect via technology, he said. Social media platforms such a Facebook can be effective ways for missionaries to share the gospel, Christ-centered videos and other Church media with fellow young people living in their mission.
Third, as we testify of the Savior, He will confess us before His Father.
Elder Andersen referenced studies that reveal diminishing beliefs in Christ and His sacred mission, particularly among so-called Millennials. Teaching and testifying of Christ is a missionary’s most important duty.
“If you don’t know what to say, speak of the Savior,” he counseled.
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“Speak of what He taught us. Speak of how He will take away sin and guilt. Testify that He lives,” said Elder Andersen. “You can never speak enough of the Savior.”
The Lord has promised to be an advocate for all who testify of Him.
“This is your reward from the Savior Himself: as you confess Him before men He will confess you before the Father.”
Elder Andersen also invited Elder Juan A. Uceda of the Seventy to share his testimony about missionary work. Testimonies were also offered by Provo MTC President Dean R. Burgess and his wife and missionary companion, Sister Annette Burgess.
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