During the recent April 2018 General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the newly sustained prophet and president of the Church invited us to live the gospel by ministering to one another. Soon after the conference, he then went out on a ministering tour around the world to minister to Lord’s sheep. He said, “Whenever I’m comfortably situated in my home, I’m in the wrong place.” I find that so interesting and inspiring. He is out ministering to the saints across the world, teaching, inspiring, uplifting, and showing his love for them.
After being released as a counselor in the bishopric I was called as the ward mission leader in the Highland 14th ward. I was asked to present a ward mission plan. The theme that I felt inspired to use was simply, “As I have loved you, love one another.” That was what I felt we needed as our guiding motto as we did local missionary work in our ward. We have non-members, less active members, part-member families, and those who have left the church as those who we are to visit. Our member-missionary work is different from the full-time missionaries, because they have to focus on whomever is ready to hear the message, make commitments, change their life if necessary, and be baptized. If the person is not ready to progress, the full-time missionaries cannot keep spending time with them. Their time is stretched too thin. But for us ward missionaries, we are here for the long haul. We are here to build relations and to minister to our neighbors. The active members, the less-active, the part-member families, the non-members, and those who have left the Church. We find ways in which we can serve and love them all. We aren’t on a tight schedule. We will let God do His work, and we will just follow the commandment to love one another. When their hearts are ready, we can be there to help them come back and enjoy the blessings of the gospel, church activity, and temple blessings. It might take a lifetime.
Joseph Smith talked about those children who had left the Church. “The Prophet Joseph Smith declared—and he never taught more comforting doctrine—that the eternal sealings of faithful parents and the divine promises made to them for valiant service in the Cause of Truth, would save not only themselves, but likewise their posterity. Though some of the sheep may wander, the eye of the Shepherd is upon them, and sooner or later they will feel the tentacles of Divine Providence reaching out after them and drawing them back to the fold. Either in this life or the life to come, they will return. They will have to pay their debt to justice; they will suffer for their sins; and may tread a thorny path; but if it leads them at last, like the penitent Prodigal, to a loving and forgiving father’s heart and home, the painful experience will not have been in vain. Pray for your careless and disobedient children; hold on to them with your faith. Hope on, trust on, till you see the salvation of God.”
This is how I feel about the ward missionary work that we do. God knows His children. I try to follow inspiration to know who is most ready to receive us and enjoy the blessings of the gospel, but if it isn’t their time, God does not forget them. He is mindful of them. For the time being, I can still get to know them, serve them, and show them love.
As the Church now moves on from home teaching and visiting teaching to “ministering”, it seems we are going to be doing a lot of what we’ve been doing as ward missionaries. Simply fulfilling our duty to “Love one another.” President Nelson said, “We will implement a newer, holier approach to caring for and ministering to others.” He also said, “A hallmark of the Lord’s true and living Church will always be an organized, directed effort to minister to individual children of God and their families. Because it is His Church, we as His servants will minister to the one, just as He did. We will minister in His name, with His power and authority, and with His loving-kindness.”
This is what I see President Nelson doing as he meets with members across the globe. He is showing his love for them, and testifying to them of God’s love for them. He is the watchman on the tower.