Joseph Smith said, “Salvation cannot come without revelation; it is in vain for anyone to minister without it”
Thus as I am making my final preparations before I leave, it is fitting for me to speak today about the Holy Ghost.
First I would like to share a story given by President Rasband of the 70 that he told in the April 2010 general conference.
“Elder Eyring was assigning missionaries to their fields of labor, and as part of my training, I was invited to observe.
I joined Elder Eyring early one morning in a room where several large computer screens had been prepared for the session. There was also a staff member from the Missionary Department who had been assigned to assist us that day.
First, we knelt together in prayer. I remember Elder Eyring using very sincere words, asking the Lord to bless him to know “perfectly” where the missionaries should be assigned. The word “perfectly” said much about the faith that Elder Eyring exhibited that day.
As the process began, a picture of the missionary to be assigned would come up on one of the computer screens. As each picture appeared, to me it was as if the missionary were in the room with us. Elder Eyring would then greet the missionary with his kind and endearing voice: “Good morning, Elder Reier or Sister Yang. How are you today?”
He told me that in his own mind he liked to think of where the missionaries would conclude their mission. This would aid him to know where they were to be assigned. Elder Eyring would then study the comments from the bishops and stake presidents, medical notes, and other issues relating to each missionary.
He then referred to another screen which displayed areas and missions across the world. Finally, as he was prompted by the Spirit, he would assign the missionary to his or her field of labor.
From others of the Twelve, I have learned that this general method is typical each week as Apostles of the Lord assign scores of missionaries to serve throughout the world.
Having served as a missionary in my own country in the Eastern States Mission a number of years ago, I was deeply moved by this experience. Also, having served as a mission president, I was grateful for a further witness in my heart that the missionaries I had received in New York City were sent to me by revelation.
After assigning a few missionaries, Elder Eyring turned to me as he pondered one particular missionary and said, “So, Brother Rasband, where do you think this missionary should go?” I was startled! I quietly suggested to Elder Eyring that I did not know and that I did not know I could know! He looked at me directly and simply said, “Brother Rasband, pay closer attention and you too can know!” With that, I pulled my chair a little closer to Elder Eyring and the computer screen, and I did pay much closer attention!
A couple of other times as the process moved along, Elder Eyring would turn to me and say, “Well, Brother Rasband, where do you feel this missionary should go?” I would name a particular mission, and Elder Eyring would look at me thoughtfully and say, “No, that’s not it!” He would then continue to assign the missionaries where he had felt prompted.
As we were nearing the completion of that assignment meeting, a picture of a certain missionary appeared on the screen. I had the strongest prompting, the strongest of the morning, that the missionary we had before us was to be assigned to Japan. I did not know that Elder Eyring was going to ask me on this one, but amazingly he did. I rather tentatively and humbly said to him, “Japan?” Elder Eyring responded immediately, “Yes, let’s go there.” And up on the computer screen the missions of Japan appeared. I instantly knew that the missionary was to go to the Japan Sapporo Mission.
Elder Eyring did not ask me the exact name of the mission, but he did assign that missionary to the Japan Sapporo Mission.
Privately in my heart I was deeply touched and sincerely grateful to the Lord for allowing me to experience the prompting to know where that missionary should go.
At the end of the meeting Elder Eyring bore his witness to me of the love of the Savior, which He has for each missionary assigned to go out into the world and preach the restored gospel. He said that it is by the great love of the Savior that His servants know where these wonderful young men and women, senior missionaries, and senior couple missionaries are to serve. I had a further witness that morning that every missionary called in this Church, and assigned or reassigned to a particular mission, is called by revelation from the Lord God Almighty through one of these, His servants.”
I would like to echo President Rasband. I know that I truly was called to serve in the Brazil Ribeirão Preto mission.
The Holy Ghost has many roles-one is that he is our teacher as he “witnesses of the Father and the Son” (2 Nephi 31:18) and reveals and teaches “the truth of all things” (Moroni 10:5).
The purpose of Missionaries as stated by “Preach My Gospel,” a training manual for missionary work, is to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.
Joseph Smith at age 14, desired to come unto Christ just as many others were. He tried to seek for the truth. Although not all that gain a testimony of the restored gospel have the Father and the Son appear to them, but it is my hope that I can be an instrument in the hand of the Lord to help those seeking to know their Heavenly Father and His gospel.
The Book of Mormon prophet, Alma speaking to his fellow missionaries says, “we have been made instruments in the hands of God to bring about this great work.” (Alma 26:3)
However, in order to be God’s instrument, a missionary or even those that desire to serve His children in other ways, must be guided by the Spirit and be worthy of his companionship.
“True to the Faith” states, “If you prepare spiritually, the Holy Ghost will help you know what to do and say in your teaching. You can prepare yourself by praying often, studying the scriptures, living the gospel, and being humble”
Lehi and Nephi, the sons of Helaman, were amazing missionaries. The scriptures say that they were “keeping the commandments of God [as they went] to teach the word of God among all the people of Nephi…[then] among the Lamanites.”
The Lamanites were a people who had sworn to kill, and had killed many of the Nephites for hundreds of years. But still they went.
As they were teaching the Lamanites, the scriptures say, “And it came to pass that they did preach with great power, insomuch that they did confound many of those dissenters who had gone over from the Nephites, insomuch that they came forth and did confess their sins and were baptized unto repentance, and immediately returned to the Nephites to endeavor to repair unto them the wrongs which they had done.
And it came to pass that Nephi and Lehi did preach unto the Lamanites with such great power and authority, for they had power and authority given unto them that they might speak, and they also had what they should speak given unto them”
They had the authority and power to teach and baptize thousands. They were worthy because they were righteous but they were also prepared as they studied the things written in their scriptures, and the words of the prophets.
Nephi’s namesake writes in 2 Nephi 32, “Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do…. For behold, again I say unto you that if ye will enter in by the way, and receive the Holy Ghost, it will show unto you all things what ye should do.” (2 Nephi 32:3,5)
Likewise, the prophet Alma says “Behold, I say unto you they are made known unto me by the Holy Spirit of God. Behold, I have fasted and prayed many days that I might know these things of myself. And now I do know of myself that they are true; for the Lord God hath made them manifest unto me by his Holy Spirit; and this is the spirit of revelation which is in me.” (Alma 5:46)
The Spirit often teaches by confirming truth, speaking in a still small voice to both our mind and heart.
As a missionary I desperately need to have the Spirit to confirm those things to help others know of the joy of the gospel just as I have tasted.
In Doctrine & Covenants, the Lord says to his missionaries, “Wherefore, I the Lord ask you this question—unto what were ye ordained?
To preach my gospel by the Spirit, even the Comforter which was sent forth to teach the truth.
Verily I say unto you, he that is ordained of me and sent forth to preach the word of truth by the Comforter, in the Spirit of truth, doth he preach it by the Spirit of truth or some other way?
And if it be by some other way it is not of God.” (D&C 50:13-14, 17-18)
To repeat what “True to the Faith” states, “If you prepare spiritually, the Holy Ghost will help you know what to do and say in your teaching.
Even as missionaries study the gospel diligently for 2 hours each morning, the Spirit can touch our hearts and minds to know what to say.
Even prophets in the scriptures relied on the Spirit to tell them what to say.
“And Moses said unto the Lord, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue.
And the Lord said unto him, Who hath made man’s mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the Lord?
Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say.”
As I have tried to prepare to leave, I have been overwhelmed by how much I don’t know. I will not know the people I teach perfectly and I won’t know exactly what they will need to hear to bring them peace. I don’t know what truths they need to hear to help them come unto Christ. But He does. Through the Holy Ghost, I can know what to say.
In Doctrine & Covenants 84:85 it says, “Neither take ye thought beforehand what ye shall say; but treasure up in your minds continually the words of life, and it shall be given you in the very hour that portion that shall be meted unto every man.”
Missionaries are 18 & 19 year olds that barely know what life is all about. We speak truth because of the Spirit of God that testifies of truth. We may not know all the pains of life but the Spirit gives a phone line of sorts to a God and a Brother that know each of us perfectly. The Spirit will in turn confirm those truths, line upon line, precept upon precept.
“President Joseph F. Smith explained how this pattern of revelation occurred in his life: ‘As a boy … I would frequently … ask the Lord to show me some marvelous thing, in order that I might receive a testimony. But the Lord withheld marvels from me, and showed me the truth, line upon line … , until He made me to know the truth from the crown of my head to the soles of my feet, and until doubt and fear had been absolutely purged from me. He did not have to send an angel from the heavens to do this, nor did He have to speak with the trump of an archangel. By the whisperings of the still small voice of the spirit of the living God, He gave to me the testimony I possess. And by this principle and power He will give to all the children of men a knowledge of the truth that will stay with them, and it will make them to know the truth, as God knows it, and to do the will of the Father as Christ does it. And no amount of marvelous manifestations will ever accomplish this’”
Just as I was converted to this gospel, and as I continue to truly be converted-it is through the Spirit’s gentle confirmations of truth that will help those that I get to teach to know oh His gospel.
I hope to truly be an instrument in His hands as I rely on the Spirit to guide me.