Saturday, June 30, 2012

Inochi no Michi, June 2012

President Baird’s Message
The Book of Mormon is truly Another Testament of Jesus Christ. In my own experience of reading and marking references to Jesus Christ, I wrote the number of references at the bottom of the page. I was astonished how high it was.
It is interesting to see that many are discovering for themselves that the Book of Mormon really is Another Testament of Jesus Christ. A recent article in the Deseret News, a daily newspaper from Salt Lake City, referred to an article by Stephen H. Webb who is a professor of religion and philosophy at Wabash College. There has been a great debate in the U. S. press about whether Mormons are Christians. Mr. Webb’s conclusions are quite interesting. He writes:
                “Mormons are more Christian than many mainstream Christians who do not take seriously the astounding claim that Jesus is the Son of God.”
                “Mormonism is obsessed with Christ.”
                Webb says he reached his conclusions as a result of reading the Book of Mormon.
                “Everything that it teaches is meant to awaken, encourage and expand faith in him.”
For me, the crowning event in the Book of Mormon occurs in 3 Nephi. In 3 Nephi Christ appears personally to the Americas. After several chapters (3Nephi 11-18) of wonderful instruction the people disperse for the night with the expectation of being taught again the following day. In 3 Nephi chapter 19 verse 1 the Savior’s departure is noted. We are then treated to an amazing lesson of faith—the members don’t simply return home, they ACT! Look at verses, 2, 3 and 5.
2.            “And it was noised abroad among the people immediately, before it was yet dark, that the multitude had seen Jesus, and that he had ministered unto them and that he would also show himself on the morrow unto the multitude.
3.            “Yea, and even all the night it was noised abroad concerning Jesus and insomuch did they send forth unto the people that there were many, yea, an exceedingly great number, did labor exceedingly all that night, that they might be on the morrow in the place where Jesus should show himself unto the multitude.”
5.            “And behold the multitude was so great that they did cause that they should be separated into twelve bodies.”
That is the power of members in the work. Member influence is expansive. Member excitement is contagious in exactly the way Preach My Gospel tells us on page 160. “Association with members is important because it softens people’s hearts and often leads them to investigate the restored gospel.” When those who heard the wonderful teachings of Jesus Christ, “noised abroad” their experience, “an exceedingly great number” responded to the invitation and came to receive the word.
Not only do we see the power of member influence in the experience of Christ’s visit to America, we also learn the power of deadlines in creating urgency and persistence. The members reached out “immediately” and “before it was yet dark” and then they continued to deliver the message “all the night” long. These members were hungry to share what they had learned with all they knew. They worked quickly and persistently to invite others.
Preach My Gospel recommends a way for members to be anxiously engaged in “noising abroad” the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. On page 172 missionaries are encouraged to help members make a list of names. That is the purpose of the Fulfillment and Follow-up activity that we use so skillfully now in the Japan Nagoya Mission. The instructions on page 172 continue with the recommendation that members prayerfully select someone they would like to prepare to hear the gospel. When we conclude the first fulfillment and follow-up meeting it is essential to ask the member to pray for the people they have listed. Such an invitation to pray should be accompanied with a promise that the member will be guided by the spirit. The names came by revelation—ideas about these names will come by revelation.
The second time we meet in fulfillment and follow-up is for the follow-up meeting. During this interaction we help members to solidify plans to help prepare people on their list to receive the gospel. As a mission we still have room for improvement on this part. We can be guided by the instruction on page 220 of Preach My Gospel that suggests individuals and families would be well served by having a mission plan including goals, initiatives and activities for specific people. Goals could include a personal baptism goal.
Like all other goals, goals associated with ward, family or individual mission plans should be time bound. Again we receive wise guidance on page 172 of Preach My Gospel. As part of the follow-up meeting missionaries are encouraged to help members set a day by which they act. Action could include monthly visits with a spiritual message or it might be an invitation to participate in an activity—like Family Home Evening. Preach My Gospel reminds us, “setting a date give members a goal and helps them exercise faith.”
The activity suggested on page 172 of Preach My Gospel along with guidance to help wards, families, and individuals to have a mission plan is the essence of the Lord’s way by which we can help accomplish the prophecies made about the growth of the church in Japan. The example of the saints at the time of the Savior’s visit to America demonstrates the power. The Book of Mormon really is the key stone of our religion and gives us guidance in all things. I am grateful for this simple example of the power of members reaching out to others—immediately and persistently. May we go and do likewise is my prayer. In the name of Jesus Christ whose church we represent. Amen.

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