Below is the first President's Message we wrote in our Mission Newsletter the beginning of August. The newsletter for the missionaries is called the Kansai no Kiseki. Our focus in the work has been building on the things we expressed in this first message and our direction has been evolving as we learn and follow the Spirit.
Our Dear Elders and Sisters of the Japan Kobe Mission,
We are so happy and excited to be serving with you in this great work. We have only been with you for one month, but we have had the chance to meet each of you personally and feel of your spirit and desire to serve the Lord and the Japanese people in this part of the Lord’s vineyard. Our testimonies have been strengthened and our family greatly blessed as we have talked with you and watched you over the past several weeks. Thank you for the fine example you are of the Savior, whom you represent, and his gospel, to our family and the people of Japan. Always remember who you are!
As I mentioned at our last Zone Conference, I have felt strongly we need to focus in a couple of areas to hasten the work and increase our harvest here in the Kobe Mission.
First, we must have the faith and hope that we can succeed in our purpose. I know we can find and see more of God’s children in this mission come unto Christ and into the waters of baptism. I am encouraged by, and believe in, the words of Alma. (Alma 13:24)
“For behold, angels are declaring it unto many at this time in our land; and this is for the purpose of preparing the hearts of the children of men to receive his word at the time of his coming in his glory.”
Here in Japan people are being prepared and angels are declaring it unto many. Our job is to find those people among the millions residing in our mission. It is a daunting task, but it can and is being done. My prayer is that we can all have the vision and faith of President Spencer W. Kimball who said,
“My brethren, I wonder if we are doing all we can. Are we complacent in our approach to teaching all the world?...Are we prepared to Lengthen Our Stride? To enlarge our vision? …I feel that when we have done all in our power that the Lord will find a way to open the doors. THAT IS MY FAITH.”
Second, we must hasten and increase our efforts to find those prepared to accept our message. Faith without works is dead. We must work like it depends only on our efforts and pray like it depends entirely on the Lord. When we show our faith by our works (and work effectively and smart) then the Lord will open doors.
Here are some areas we can focus on to start:
Working with Members - Our efforts must include the members. We are on the same team. We must build trust with the members. We can do this by serving them and showing them how serious we are about the work. We can start with the bishops and ward mission leaders. In some areas this may take more time than others. In some areas members are few. Whatever the circumstance, we must do it and we must begin now. That is Lord’s program.
Talking with Everyone – While we are building our relationships and increasing our efforts with the members, we must step up our own finding activities. Elder M. Russell Ballard has challenged missionaries to talk to 10 people everyday, outside of your normal “dendo.” The best way to start a conversation is to simply say “hello.” My challenge to each companionship is to work towards the goal of finding two new investigators each week. Right now our average is about .5 new investigators per week per companion set. If we can do this, we are enlarging our vision and lengthening our stride.
Focus on the younger people –A few years ago when President Boyd K. Packer was here in Japan he said the following,
“The Church will grow in Japan…almost everybody we meet, the stake presidents, the former stake presidents, were boys when they joined the Church. Their wives joined when they were girls. The Church in Japan has been built on the backs of the young people. We want to start that again.”
We will seek out families and others, but we should particularly make a concerted effort to seek out the younger generation. I think 17 – 25 year olds are at an age when they are seeking the truth and they are not yet set in their ways and bound by the traditions of their fathers.
These suggestions are simple. They probably are not new. But as we start our service with you here in Kobe, I testify to you that this is the place to begin and the direction we should go. As our journey continues the Lord will guide us and adjust our direction according to our faith and needs just as he guided Lehi and his family in the wilderness with the Liahona.
We have the greatest mission in the church here. And you are the greatest missionaries. We love each of you and look forward to serving with you. Know you are doing the work of the Lord. He guides and directs it. We will not fail if we simply follow Him and his prophets.
May the Lord Bless Each of You!
President and Sister McIntyre
(and Erika, Julie, Ricky and James)