When missionaries return home they are often invited to speak in their local congregations. I returned from my mission over 7 years ago, but I just re-discovered a copy of the talk I gave in church after returning. I thought I would share it here.
The way I see it, my parents just dished out about ten thousand dollars for this talk, so I had better make it good.
Let’s begin with a bit of scripture work. Let’s look in Alma 17. And remember, participation invites the spirit. We want to read in Alma 17 verse 3.
“But this is not all; they had given themselves to much prayer, and fasting; therefore they had the spirit of prophecy, and the spirit of revelation, and when they taught, they taught with power and authority of God.”
Great. So these men, now missionaries, had got for themselves power and authority. It tells us how they got the spirit of revelation and prophecy – that was the much prayer and fasting. But what I want to talk about is that power and authority. Let’s look at another example in third Nephi. In third Nephi chapter 7 verses 17 and 18.
“And he did minister many things unto them; and all of them cannot be written, and a part of them would not suffice, therefore they are not written in this book. And Nephi did minister with power and great authority.
“And it came to pass that they were angry with him, even because he had greater power than they, for it were not possible that they could disbelieve his words, for so great was his faith on the Lord Jesus Christ that angels did minister unto him daily.”
I can just imagine this. I can see Nephi walking up to these wicked apostate people one by one saying “You know, you need to repent and be baptized.” and them thinking “Crap. He’s right.” then maybe getting a guilty look and making excuses and running away from the man they knew was right.
How cool would that be? To have that kind of power. And where can we get it? Well, the authority part is easy. That comes from the laying on of hands by those who have the authority to give you a calling. That’s something each of us can have. What I want to do now is share a few stories and experiences from my mission to illustrate where the power comes from.
The last man I helped baptize is named Mr. Xie. Here’s how we met him: One night we were at the subway, contacting. We had just finished and we were about to head over to some inactive member’s home, but we couldn’t decide who to visit. We were standing there, flipping through the pages of our ‘member book’ trying to decide when a guy walked up to us and said, “Hi. I need a religion. Can you help me?”
We said, “yes.”
Two weeks later he was baptized. At his baptism he shared his testimony and conversion story. Here’s what he said: “I don’t normally talk to foreigners, except for the girls. And even then all I ever say is ‘Hi.’ or ‘I love you!’ Because I think all of us are afraid to talk to foreigners, really. But when I was by the subway station I saw these two guys. The had on white shirts and ties, and I wouldn’t have normally talked to them but there was light coming from their faces and heads. Just like in those paintings of angels, you know? And I thought that I need to join the church they belong to. So I talked to them.”
Why did that happen?
Why is it that Brother Xie looked at us and saw light? Why did he compare us to the very angels of heaven? Well, here’s a question: If I or my companion had been living unworthily would we have had any light? If we hadn’t been keeping the commandments would this have happened? No.
Authority comes from the call and setting apart of God. Power comes from our obedience.
A couple more examples: A man named Peter. He listened to all the lessons patiently and followed each commandment till we taught about the word of wisdom. Then, when he had heard this commandment about the health of the body, he stood up and yelled “Aha! That’s it! That explains how every member of your church seems to be so… glowy… so.. white… so pure. That’s what I’ve been wondering for days! Of course I’ll obey this law!” He recognized that obedience to this commandment brought real blessings.
One night we were riding down the street. There was a man there shouting and waving something in the air. He was dirty, had greasy hair, flaky skin. He seemed drunk. We pulled over and he showed us the tiny cross on his keychain that he was waving up in the air. He said “This is my protection!” We said “We got better. Want to hear?” We taught him the commandments. A few days later we were riding down the road when a man again flagged us down. This man was handsome, well groomed, all there. With a sparkle in his eyes. After we pulled over I finally realized it was our same cross-waving friend – only now with the power of obedience to the commands of God. He had changed, and done so very fast.
Our mission president did much business while he lived in china, and had his own driver for most of the time. Often visiting general authorities would be picked up by this man. One day, president told his driver to pick up a man from the airport. “Is this man a member of your church?” the driver asked. “Yes.” president said. The driver then made as if to leave to pick up the visiting authority, and president asked him, “Don’t you want to know his name, or make a card or something?” “No,” the driver replied, “I can always tell when it’s a member of your church. They have something different about them.” The driver left and returned with the right man.
My first companion, Elder Smith, was riding home one night, at about 9:27 pm. Curfew was 9:30 and he was about 5 minutes from home, so he was riding hard. Well, he caught a red light, which frustrated him a bit. Then a man pulled up next to him on a scooter. Elder Smith thought about it – knowing that most likely this guy wasn’t interested, and if he was Elder Smith would almost definitely be late. But he also knew that his calling was to invite everybody to hear the message. He decided to obey. Elder Smith leaned over to start a conversation with the guy, but just at that moment the light turned green. “Hey, can you pull over for a second?” he asked. The guy on the scooter said “Sure.” Elder smith thought “Oh, crap!” then gave him a flier with the address of the church on it, saying “Be there tomorrow at 4, okay bye!” as he sped off, not wanting to be home late.
The next day at 4:45, Elder Smith arrived at the church to find this guy there, along with his girlfriend who he had brought with him. If you haven’t been on a mission, you can’t realize what a big deal that really is. The girl’s first words to Elder Smith were “You are late!” in english.
The missionaries took them inside, showed them around. “Here is our chapel. This is where we all meet for our Sunday services.”
“Neat. Can we do that?”
“Uh.. Yes.” The missionaries were pretty happy about that. Then took them down to show them the classrooms and to find a place to teach them the gospel. They went into the relief society room. “This is where we have our Sunday classes. And this is the baptismal font where people get baptized when they want to join our church and become Christian.”
“Neat. Can we do that?”
This couple had a baptismal date before they had even learned about the church. Why? What gave them such faith in these missionaries? It was the power they carried because of their obedience. The miracles came when they decided to do the not-easy-thing. When they pushed their limits.
Elder Holland visited the mission a couple of weeks before I came back. He shared a poem that I really like, and want to share with you.
“Come to the edge.” He said.
“No. I’ll fall.”
“Come to the edge.” He said.
“No. I’ll fall.”
“Come to the edge.” He said.
So I went to the edge.
Then he pushed me,
And I flew.
I like that poem because it reminds us that man’s extremity is God’s opportunity. That miracles come when we push ourselves to the edge. God didn’t send us here to fall, He sent us to fly. But it takes that faith to be obedient.
Do you need angels? Do you need them around you right now? Do you have a trial that you could sure use some help with? Then live like an angel. Live the way they do and you will be among them. Now seeing them, well, I don’t know about that – that’s a gift of the spirit, you’ll have to pray for it. But I know that they will be with you as you live worthy of it. Do the hard thing. The angels and miracles come after the testimony and obedience. Build that testimony.
Let’s look at another scripture.
Alma chapter 5. Chapter 5 verse 45 and 46.
“And this is not all. Do you not suppose that I know of these things myself? Behold, I testify unto you that I do know that these things whereof I have spoken are true. And how do ye suppose that I know of their surety?
“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 with is in me.”
Did he once mention the angel?
This is Alma the younger! This is the guy who went around trying to destroy the church! Did he once mention the earth shaking? Did he talk about being in a coma for days? Did he say “I know it’s true because I saw an angel?” No. Because that’s not what changed him. That’s not what he based his testimony on. He fasted. He prayed. He learned for himself and had his own personal earth shaking events within the confines of his own heart.
Well, you can too. If you want these blessings, you know what to do. Do the hard thing. Magnify that calling. Obey. Live like the angels. Look at your own testimony and figure out what you’re missing, then fast and pray. I’ve done it.
I know that our Heavenly Father lives. I know that Jesus Christ lives. I know this is His church and he leads us and guides us today. I learned it the same way Alma did. I know God loves us.
Well, I guess that’s it.
In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.