Beloved Elders and Sisters of the Kobe Mission,
What a wonderful time it is to be serving the Lord in this great land of Japan. 107 years ago this month, then Apostle Heber J. Grant dedicated this land for the preaching of the restored gospel and the harvesting of souls. From 1901 to 1923 the Japan Mission saw just over 100 converts. Dendo was hard, the language was hard and missions were long, most averaged much longer than three years. Since those early days, a great miracle has come to pass in Japan. Today we have branches, wards, stakes and temples. Nevertheless, I'll bet there were days when those first missionaries wondered if such a thing would ever be possible in this land. But they showed their faith and endured to the end and laid a foundation for the church in Japan.
The Lord leads His work and those first few missionaries found a handful of the Lord’s elect and gathered them (See D&C 29:7) in and taught them the gospel. After World War II, those members helped to re-establish the church in Japan at a time when the people of Japan were more prepared to hear the message. Over the last 50 years, membership in Japan has grown dramatically and there are now many strong families and members throughout the land. Yet the work today seems slow to many of us.
The prophet Moroni teaches us in Ether 12:6 that we should “dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.” Elders and Sisters, we receive blessings and can and will see miracles, after we have earned the right to see them by exercising our faith. The trial of faith may be different for different people, but the principle remains. Faith precedes the miracle. In Ether 12:12 we read: “for if there be no faith among the children of men God can do no miracle among them; wherefore he showed not himself until after their faith.”
I have witnessed a great increase of faith in our missionaries over the past several weeks. I know many of you are showing your faith by your obedience to the Preach My Gospel program and my counsel as your mission president. I have heard from many of you in your letters how you are talking with more people and opening your mouths. Lessons are increasing as a result and our average number of “new investigators” per week is slowing inching up. The Lord will require us to show our faith by our works. Many of you are already seeing small miracles in your dendo. Some are finding miracles in their personal lives as they are learning to love their missions more. We are on the right track. As we stay focused on our purpose, open our mouths and talk with everyone everywhere, the Lord will guide us to those elect that will “hear His voice” and we will see more people come into the waters of baptism. As we focus our conversations and messages on the importance of the family and the restoration, using the Book of Mormon daily as we find and teach, the Lord will bless us for our obedience and faith and the harvest will increase. I know this is true. And I know the Lord keeps His promises to us, when we are obedient.
In closing I want to share with you a quote from President Hugh B. Brown. This talk was delivered in the Abeno Chapel in our mission on April 21, 1967. Addressing the Japanese members he said,
“I’m telling you, you are going to live to see some marvelous things in connection with this Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints...Some of you people who are listening to me tonight will live to see the day when there will be a Japanese man in the Council of the Twelve Apostles of the Church. I do not know when it will be. I will not live to see it. But some of you young people will live to see it and then you will realize that God loves the Japanese people. And some of you Japanese will be among the leaders of the church. I feel this in my heart tonight and I dare to make this prediction in the name of the Lord...It will take faith, courage and fortitude to remain faithful to the truth...you must be stout hearted men and women...I thank God that he planted the seeds of the gospel here in Japan and a few courageous folks have stayed with it until now when it is beginning to bear fruit.”
This is the Lord’s work and He leads it. Let us all be faithful, enduring to the end, withstanding the trails of our faith, knowing that the blessings come in due time.
We love you and are honored to serve in this, “the greatest mission in the world,” with you!
President and Sister McIntyre