Elders and Sisters of the Japan Kobe Mission,
The weather is warming and Spring is in the air. Soon we will be enjoying the Sakura here in Japan. It is a wonderful time of year to be out among the people sharing the message of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.
Recently my thoughts have been focused on the gospel and the blessings it can bring into the lives of those who choose to live it. The gospel is the good news. It is not complex or hard to understand. The good news is that we have a loving Heavenly Father and he has a plan for us. The Gospel teaches us why we are here and what our potential is. The good news is that we can find true peace and joy in this life and in the eternities. The good news is that even though we die, we will all rise again, as the resurrection is gift to all mankind. The good news is that if we choose to follow Christ, we can become cleansed of our sins through His atonement and return to our loving Father in Heaven. The good news is that we can live as families and progress throughout all eternity. In short, the good news is that no matter what we may face in this life; trials, hardships, illness or any kind of adversity, we can have hope in Christ and the Plan of Salvation.
As missionaries we preach the gospel. We teach the doctrine. But are we sufficiently promising blessings (the fruits of the gospel) to those we teach? There are many blessings that come from understanding and living the gospel. One of the greatest blessings of the gospel is JOY.
In 1 Nephi 8:10-12 Lehi says regarding the fruit of the tree he beheld “…whose fruit was desirable to make one happy.” After partaking of the fruit he says, “…it filled my soul with exceeding great JOY.”
As King Benjamin taught his people and witnessed their change of heart because of the gospel he noted that “…they were filled with JOY having received a remission of their sins and having peace of conscience because of their exceeding faith which they had in Jesus Christ…”
In D&C 59:23 we read: “… learn that he who doeth the works of righteousness shall receive his reward, even peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come.”
This joy and peace comes from the knowledge of who you are, why you are here and that you can return home to your Father in Heaven. This knowledge gives one confidence and hope.
We had the opportunity to hear from Elder Oaks this past month. In his remarks to the members the night before our meeting with him, he spoke about the need for members to feel the joy of the Gospel. In our meeting, he taught us that it is not enough to just open our mouths but we need to make sure we are inviting people to learn. He also taught us by quoting President Harold B. Lee who said that the church is not a retirement home for the righteous, but a hospital for sinners. As I thought about his remarks and our work here as missionaries, again I wondered if we are teaching people sufficiently about the joy, or the fruits of the gospel. Many people are prepared to accept the gospel. They are searching for something better in their lives. The problem is that most people do know where or how to find it. In D&C 123:12 we read:
For there are many yet on the earth among all sects, parties, and denominations, who are blinded by the subtle craftiness of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive, and who are only kept from the truth because they not where to find it.
Many people may not seem interested in hearing about the gospel when you first approach them. They may be intimidated by religion in general or you and your name tag. But if we talk about the joy of the gospel and the happiness we have because of the knowledge we have of the gospel, we may find that more and more people will open their hearts to the gospel message.
Preach My Gospel teaches us that the Book of Mormon, which contains a fullness of the gospel, can help answer the questions of the soul (PMG p.107). When we open our mouths and talk with people we should talk about these questions of the soul. Carefully follow the guidance of the Spirit as you determine what to say to each person you visit with. And invite them to learn the answers to these questions. As we do this and then testify about the peace and joy we have received through the gospel and knowing the answers to these questions, we will find the elect. When they hear the message, they will not harden their hearts, but open them up and receive you and your message.
This is a great work and we are honored to be engaged in it with each of you. Let us go forth and find the elect by opening our mouths and sharing the joy of the gospel and inviting all those we meet to learn of these eternal truths.
May the Lord bless each of you!
President and Sister McIntyre