Whatever their age, capacity, Church calling or location, Latter-day Saints are called to the work to help take the gospel to all the world, President Henry B. Eyring said Saturday evening in his priesthood session address, noting that the same calling was issued to priesthood holders at the start of the current gospel dispensation.
"Now, you members of the Aaronic priesthood can see that the Lord's command includes you," said President Eyring, first counselor in the First Presidency. "Since you know that the Lord always prepares a way to keep His commandments, you can expect that He will do that for each of you."
President Eyring spoke of a 16-year-old priest in the Aaronic Priesthood who lives in a country where missionaries arrived just a year ago. When he was very young, his parents brought him to Utah for safety. There the family was taught and baptized by missionaries, but the boy was not because he had not yet reached age 8.
Later, his parents were killed in an accident, so his grandmother had him return to the city in his homeland where he was born.
A year ago, he was walking on the street when he felt he should speak to a woman he did not know, using the English he still remembered. She had been sent by the mission president to the city to find housing and medical care for the missionaries who soon would be assigned there. They became friends.
This led to his being taught the gospel, and when missionaries arrived in the city last September, he was baptized into the Church, the first convert in the city. By March of this year, he had been ordained a priest, so he could baptize the second convert.
"He was the first priesthood pioneer to gather other children of Heavenly Father with him to establish the Church in a city of approximately 130,000 people," President Eyring remarked.
On March 31, Easter Sunday, the Church membership in the city had grown to six, but he was the only local member who attended the meeting that Sunday. Though his knee had been injured the day before, he was determined to be there and had prayed that he would be able to walk to Church. There, he shared the sacrament with four young elders and a missionary couple.
"That story does not seem remarkable unless you recognize in it the pattern of God's hand in building His kingdom," President Eyring said. "I have seen it many times."
He told of being an officer in the U.S. Air Force in 1955. His bishop gave him a blessing just before he left for Albuquerque, N.M. He was blessed that his time in the Air Force would be missionary service.
On his first Sunday he was called as a district missionary and for two years taught the gospel to people brought by the members.
"My companions and I averaged more than 40 hours a month in our missionary service without having to knock on doors to find someone to teach," President Eyring recounted. "The members filled our plates so full that we often taught two families in the evening. I saw for myself the power and the blessing in the repeated call of prophets for every member to be a missionary."
On his last Sunday in Albuquerque, the first stake was organized there, President Eyring said, and there is now a temple there.
In New England, as he went to school, he served as a counselor to a district president who had been brought by a home teacher from disinterest in the Church to a state of great spiritual power.
"In the years I served with that great leader, we watched people draw friends to the Church by their example and by their invitation to listen to the missionaries," he said. "To me the growth of these branches seemed slow and faltering. But on the Sunday I left, five years later, two apostles came to organize our district into a stake in the Longfellow Park chapel in Cambridge."
A temple stands in Belmont now, he said.
He spoke of a deacon in attendance at the meeting who is in a strong ward that emphasizes missionary work through the efforts of the ward council and the ward mission leader.Comment on this story
"Now, the deacon in the strong ward and the priest in the new and tiny member group may seem to have little in common with each other or with you," President Eyring said. "And you may not see much similarity with your experience in building up the Church with what I saw as miracles in New Mexico and in New England.
"But there is one way in which we are one in our charge in the priesthood. We sanctify ourselves and fulfill our individual duties to take the gospel to all of our Heavenly Father's children."