Elders and Sisters of the Japan Kobe Mission,
The summer heat is fading and autumn will soon arrive. It has been hot this past month. We appreciate your diligence, especially during this hot and humid summer season. This summer Sister McIntyre and I have enjoyed travelling to Okayama and Shikoku and meeting so many wonderful members in these areas new to our mission. It has been a wonderful experience putting the mission together with these new areas and additional missionaries. The mission consolidation is now complete. We have fully integrated the mission and the missionaries. I feel that we are unified in this work and truly focusing on our purpose as missionaries. Elders and sisters, now it is time to move forward with greater faith, an enlarged vision and to more fully fulfill our purpose as missionaries in this part of the Lord’s vineyard.
Recently among the members and missionaries here, there has been talk about the dream of having a temple built within our mission boundaries. The stake and district leaders in the mission are excited about the possibility of this. We can help this come to pass as we strengthen the church here by finding and baptizing the elect and helping the members have greater faith to open their mouths and share the gospel with those around them. I know it will happen. When? That really depends on the missionaries’ and the members’ faith and obedience.
As you all know, in July we received instructions from the brethren and the missionary department to alter our schedule by reducing the frequency of interviews and zone conferences with the missionaries and increasing leadership training and other in field training and time with the missionaries. We were also instructed to focus our training as teachers on eight specific principles drawn from the scriptures and Preach My Gospel. This past month we have started to implement this new schedule and training focus. It truly is an inspired change!
Shortly after our first leadership training sessions in Kobe and Okayama, I had the chance to teach two lessons with the assistants here in Kobe. In both lessons we focused on the principles learned and practiced in our leadership training. At the end of the lessons we invited our investigators to pray. In both cases, when first invited to pray at the end of the lesson, each of them refused. One said he would do it next time and the other said he was not ready to pray yet in front of people. In both cases however, we did exactly what we practiced in our training and both investigators ended the lessons with a wonderful prayer. It is a joyous occasion in heaven when someone prays to their Father in Heaven for the first time since leaving His presence and coming to this earth. What a blessing it is to be a part of that event. There is nothing quite like it! Both of these investigators are now working towards baptismal dates. I can personally testify to each of you that we need to follow the prophet and do exactly as we have been instructed to do. Obedience truly is the price. We must have the Faith to be obedient. We must have the Faith to be Bold and invite others to repent and come unto Christ. Faith is the Power. The principles we have learned, and will continue to focus on to become better teachers of the gospel, enable us to truly help people feel the Spirit and become converted. Let’s review these principles.
1# The Doctrine of Christ – Our Missionary Purpose
The doctrine of Christ is focused on the atonement of Christ and the first principles and ordinances of the gospel. All must come unto Christ and repent and be baptized. (See 2 Nephi 31, 3 Nephi 9, 11 and 27) Once baptized, they are given the gift of the Holy Ghost and continually nourished so they might endure to the end. Our purpose is to invite others to come unto Christ. People come unto Christ through faith in His atonement, repentance and baptism. As missionaries when we truly understand the doctrine of Christ and our purpose, we will be bold and not hesitate to invite people to be baptized. We have been taught in Preach My Gospel and received direct instruction from the brethren to invite people to be baptized and set a goal to work towards baptism in the first lesson. Since we have started doing this more faithfully as a mission, we have seen a significant increase in our investigators with baptismal dates.
#2 Role of Holy Ghost in Conversion
The Holy Ghost plays a critical role in the conversion process. First we must teach with the Spirit and be worthy of the Spirit’s guidance. (See D&C 42:14) The Spirit testifies of truth.
#3, #4, #5 The Process of Revelation (Prayer, Book of Mormon and Church Attendance)
We can help people receive personal revelation through the Holy Ghost and come to know for themselves that what we are teaching is true by inviting them to pray about the things we teach and ask Heavenly Father if they are true. We help them know if these things are true by inviting them to read and pray about the Book of Mormon. (Moroni 10:3-5) If the Book of Mormon is true, then Joseph Smith was a prophet and our message is true. We also help them feel the Spirit and become converted by inviting them to attend church. At church they will learn more about the gospel, feel the Spirit, make friends and learn to obey the Sabbath day. Helping people do these three things, Pray, Read the Book of Mormon and Attend Church is critical to helping them receive revelation and become converted to the gospel.
#6 Teach People, Not Lessons (PMG p. 177)
Inviting people to be baptized is actually the easy part. Once they agree to hear the gospel message, we need to do all we can to help them know for themselves through personal revelation that the gospel is true and that they truly do need to be baptized to begin to follow Christ. As we invite them to read, pray and attend church, we need to listen to and follow the Spirit. The Spirit will guide us and help teach to the investigator’s needs. We also need to listen to our investigators to truly understand their needs. We do this by asking inspired questions that help us teach by the Spirit.
#7 We Invite, They Commit, We Follow Up
As we follow these principles and the guidance of the Spirit and invite people to come unto Christ, we must remember that our main role is to invite and teach them how to find the truth for themselves. They are the ones that commit. Once those we teach commit to be baptized, obey a commandment or read and pray, we need to do all within our power to help them succeed and keep those commitments. However, our success as missionaries is not based on them keeping their commitments, but on our commitment to be bold and invite them to do these things and then follow up with love and support to help them come unto Christ by keeping their commitments.
#8 How to Begin Teaching
Lastly, to be great teachers, we need to start out our lessons right. We need to make sure those we teach understand our role and their role in this process of learning about the gospel and finding truth. We need to let those we teach know up front what our purpose is and why we are teaching them. We should not be afraid to let them know we hope and expect them to come unto Christ through baptism. We need to promise them they can know for themselves these things are true. As we do this, we will find that our investigators will be more sincere and not question our motives. They will be more open to accepting commitments we extend and progress quicker to baptism. Some may choose not to listen. But we can feel assured we have done our part by boldly opening our mouths and inviting them to repent and come unto Christ. When we are honest and up front with people and show Christ-like love for them, people will come to respect us as missionaries and respect the church as a whole. And even if some choose not to listen, they will not have a negative impression of the church or of you as a servant of the Lord.
Elders and Sisters, I know that following these principles of teaching will help you be a more effective missionary. They will help make you a successful missionary. I know they may seem hard to do for some of you at this time. I am aware some of the members are nervous about being so bold with those we teach. But when this is done properly through the Spirit with a love for those you teach, it really works and never comes across overbearing. I promise each of you in the name of Jesus Christ, that this is the way we are to do it. It is not the Japan Kobe Mission way or President McIntyre’s way. It is the Lord’s way. Whether we choose to follow this or not is really a question of how much faith we have in the Lord and His servants. It really is simply a question of faith.
May we all become great Preach My Gospel missionaries as we focus on Being like Christ, Doing the leading indicators and Teaching by the Spirit and these eight principles. Now let us move forward as faithful servants of the Lord in this wonderful part of His vineyard.
President and Sister McIntyre