As young Elder Hinckley came of missionary age in the depths of the 1930s’ depression, the world was in financial crisis, unemployment was raging at a devastating 35 percent, and few missionaries were going into the field. Young Gordon, who had finished his bachelor’s degree, was desperately anxious to attend graduate school and then somehow find a way to earn a living. His mother had recently passed away; his father was alone, facing the economic pressures of the day. In the midst of these concerns, Gordon received a mission call to England—at the time the most expensive mission in the world, with no equalization plan as there is today. As he prepared to leave, with all of these emotions and such potential problems troubling him, his beloved father, Bryant S. Hinckley, quietly handed him a card on which were written just five words: “Be not afraid,” it said, “only believe.” I am still not sure why that little story, told 20 years ago, has affected me so much, but it has. So, with that concise counsel from Mark 5:36 as a backdrop, I ask you and your students to “be not afraid, only believe.” With uncompromised confidence in God, I ask you to summon full confidence in yourselves and build full confidence in your students by teaching with conviction and optimism that the gospel of Jesus Christ is the most certain, the most secure, the most reliable, and the most rewarding truth on earth and in heaven, in time and in eternity. I ask you to teach that nothing—not anything, not anyone, not any influence—will keep this Church from fulfilling its mission and realizing its destiny set from before the foundation of the world. Ours is that fail-safe, inexorable, indestructible dispensation of the fulness of the gospel. Our youth have no need to be afraid or tentative about themselves or about their future. What they do need to do is believe and to rise up to make the most of the remarkable day in which we live.
This is our goal and aim and purpose in life. Everything we do should please the Lord and further our strivings for salvation. And, the Lord be praised, there comes a time in the lives of faithful Saints when, having kept the faith and been true and faithful at all hazards, the Lord says to them: Thou shalt be exalted. These, then, are a few of the many tests of true discipleship. Now, I have what every true disciple has. It is called the testimony of Jesus. In our day it includes the revealed knowledge that the earthly kingdom—The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—will triumph. In this connection may I set before you this illustration: The Church is like a great caravan—organized, prepared, following an appointed course, with its captains of tens and captains of hundreds all in place. What does it matter if a few barking dogs snap at the heels of the weary travelers? Or that predators claim those few who fall by the way? The caravan moves on. Is there a ravine to cross, a miry mud hole to pull through, a steep grade to climb? So be it. The oxen are strong and the teamsters wise. The caravan moves on. Are there storms that rage along the way, floods that wash away the bridges, deserts to cross, and rivers to ford? Such is life in this fallen sphere. The caravan moves on. Ahead is the celestial city, the eternal Zion of our God, where all who maintain their position in the caravan shall find food and drink and rest. Thank God that the caravan moves on!
Devoted disciples of Jesus Christ always have been and always will be valiant missionaries. A missionary is a follower of Christ who testifies of Him as the Redeemer and proclaims the truths of His gospel. The Church of Jesus Christ always has been and always will be a missionary church. The individual members of the Savior’s Church have accepted the solemn obligation to assist in fulfilling the divine commission given by the Lord to His Apostles, as recorded in the New Testament: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen”. Latter-day Saints take seriously this responsibility to teach all people in all nations about the Lord Jesus Christ and His restored gospel. We believe the same Church founded by the Savior anciently has been reestablished on the earth by Him in the latter days. The doctrine, principles, priesthood authority, ordinances, and covenants of His gospel are found today in His Church. When we invite you to attend church with us or to learn with the full-time missionaries, we are not trying to sell you a product. As members of the Church, we do not receive prizes or bonus points in a heavenly contest. We are not seeking simply to increase the numerical size of the Church. And most importantly, we are not attempting to coerce you to believe as we do. We are inviting you to hear the restored truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ so you can study, ponder, pray, and come to know for yourself if the things we are sharing with you are true.
Elder L. Tom Perry added the concluding comments: “This is the most remarkable era in the history of the Church. This is something that ranks with the great events that have happened in past history, like the First Vision, like the gift of the Book of Mormon, like the Restoration of the gospel, like all of the things that build that foundation for us to go forward and teach in our Father in Heaven’s kingdom”. We need to be engaged as never before to match the excitement of our leaders and the commitment of our full-time missionaries. This work is not going to move forward in the Lord’s intended way without us! As President Henry B. Eyring has said, “Whatever our age, capacity, Church calling, or location, we are as one called to the work to help Him in His harvest of souls”. May I share with you a game plan I’ve felt impressed to implement after praying, reading chapter 13 of Preach My Gospel, and pondering past experiences? I invite you to consider these three points as you think about your own plan. First, specifically pray to bring someone closer to the Savior and His gospel every day. You could do this by seeing all people as sons and daughters of God helping each other on their journey home. Think of the new friends you would make. Second, pray for the missionaries serving in your area and their investigators by name every day. The only way to do this is to greet them, look at their badge, call them by name, and ask them who they are teaching. Elder Russell M. Nelson wisely contributed, “Until you know a person’s name and face, the Lord cannot help you know his or her heart.” I attended the baptism of a wonderful sister, who shared her testimony. I will forever remember her saying, “I’ve never had so many people praying for me and feeling so much love! I know this work is true!” Third, invite a friend to an activity in or out of your home. Wherever you go or whatever you do, ponder who would enjoy the occasion and then listen to the Spirit as He directs you.
When they got through the Prophet said, “Brethren I have been very much edified and instructed in your testimonies here tonight, but I want to say to you before the Lord, that you know no more concerning the destinies of this Church and kingdom than a babe upon its mother’s lap. You don’t comprehend it.” I was rather surprised. He said “it is only a little handful of Priesthood you see here tonight, but this Church will fill North and South America—it will fill the world.” Among other things he said, “it will fill the Rocky Mountains. There will be tens of thousands of Latter-day Saints who will be gathered in the Rocky Mountains, and there they will open the door for the establishing of the Gospel among the Lamanites, who will receive the Gospel and their endowments and the blessings of God. This people will go into the Rocky Mountains; they will there build temples to the Most High. They will raise up a posterity there, and the Latter-day Saints who dwell in these mountains will stand in the flesh until the coming of the Son of Man. The Son of Man will come to them while in the Rocky Mountains.” I name these things because I want to bear testimony before God, angels and men that mine eyes behold the day, and have beheld for the last fifty years of my life, the fulfillment of that prophecy. I never expected to see the Rocky Mountains when I listened to that man’s voice, but I have, and do today.
My brothers and sisters, as the Brethren of the First Presidency and the Twelve have meditated upon and prayed about the great latter-day work the Lord has given us to do, we are impressed that the mission of the Church is threefold: – To proclaim the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people; – To perfect the Saints by preparing them to receive the ordinances of the gospel and by instruction and discipline to gain exaltation; – To redeem the dead by performing vicarious ordinances of the gospel for those who have lived on the earth. All three are part of one work—to assist our Father in Heaven and His Son, Jesus Christ, in Their grand and glorious mission “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39). Having these sacred principles in mind—to proclaim the gospel, to perfect the Saints, and to redeem the dead—we have endeavored these past six months to carry out our responsibilities among the Saints at home and abroad. I should like, therefore, to give you a brief report on my stewardship since last we met in October 1980.
Now, my brethren and sisters, the time has come for us to stand a little taller, to lift our eyes and stretch our minds to a greater comprehension and understanding of the grand millennial mission of this The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This is a season to be strong. It is a time to move forward without hesitation, knowing well the meaning, the breadth, and the importance of our mission. It is a time to do what is right regardless of the consequences that might follow. It is a time to be found keeping the commandments. It is a season to reach out with kindness and love to those in distress and to those who are wandering in darkness and pain. It is a time to be considerate and good, decent and courteous toward one another in all of our relationships. In other words, to become more Christlike. We have nothing to fear. God is at the helm. He will overrule for the good of this work. He will shower down blessings upon those who walk in obedience to His commandments. Such has been His promise. Of His ability to keep that promise none of us can doubt. The little stone which was cut out of the mountain without hands as seen in Daniel’s vision is rolling forth to fill the whole earth. No force under the heavens can stop it if we will walk in righteousness and be faithful and true. The Almighty Himself is at our head. Our Savior, who is our Redeemer, the Great Jehovah, the mighty Messiah, has promised: “I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up”. . . Unitedly, working hand in hand, we shall move forward as servants of the living God, doing the work of His Beloved Son, our Master, whom we serve and whose name we seek to glorify. I repeat, this, my brethren and sisters, is the work of the Almighty. He lives, our Father and our friend. It is the work of our Redeemer, who out of a love beyond comprehension gave His life for each of us.