Elder Quentin L. Cook: We welcome you to this special broadcast for parents and leaders of children and youth. I am Elder Quentin L. Cook, and I’m joined by my quorum president, M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
We are excited to be with you today to share ideas about helping the youth and children of the Church come unto Christ through the Children and Youth program. We have asked Olivia, first counselor in her Young Women class presidency, to offer an opening prayer.
Olivia: Dear Heavenly Father, we are grateful to be here today to hear the Apostles and the things that they have to say. And please help us to feel the Spirit and to know that the things are true. And we’re thankful for our Savior and all that He does for us. And please help us to do as He would. And we’re thankful for all of our blessings and for the blessing of technology that we are able to do this today. And please help us to do as He would throughout our day and to apply this to our lives. And we’re grateful for the opportunity to be here. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
President M. Russell Ballard: Thank you, Olivia.
Brothers and sisters, as you know, the Lord has a special place in His heart for the rising generation. He has inspired His prophet, President Russell M. Nelson, to speak directly to them several times in recent years, inviting them to participate in the gathering of Israel and the work of salvation and exaltation. Let’s begin our discussion by listening to a few of those messages to the children and youth.
President Russell M. Nelson: My dear young brothers and sisters, these surely are the latter days. And the Lord is hastening His work to gather Israel, and gathering is the most important thing taking place on earth today. Nothing else compares in magnitude. Nothing else compares in importance. Nothing else compares in majesty. And if you choose to, if you want to, you can be a big part of it. So now I am inviting every young woman and every young man between the ages of 12 and 18 in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to enlist in the youth battalion of the Lord to help gather Israel.
Last year I invited the youth of the Church to become part of the greatest cause on earth, to join the Lord’s battalion and help gather Israel. And children, I extend that same invitation to each of you.
My young friends, you are the hope of Israel. You have a divine destiny. Your future is bright and becoming brighter each day. I have complete confidence in you.
And I promise that if you will be prayerful about helping to gather Israel, the Lord will inspire you. He will lead you to people who are willing to let God prevail in their lives, whom you are uniquely prepared to help. He will strengthen you to meet your own challenges and fill your life with joy.
Now, you might think that because you are young you cannot do great things. Maybe you think that Heavenly Father’s work is only for adults. But I want you to know that Heavenly Father sees things differently than we do. The Lord can use you—yes, each of you—to do His amazing and important work.
Many of you are already doing good things to help gather Israel. Keep going. If you have not yet become part of this great cause, start today. I love you and pray for you. And I testify that the Lord knows you by name and sees who you can become. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
President Ballard: Amen. Elder Cook, what thoughts do you have for parents and leaders about the prophet’s words to the rising generation?
Elder Cook: Those are powerful invitations. I think they demonstrate the great confidence Jesus Christ has in this generation of youth and children. And I think it’s so appropriate that the Children and Youth program was introduced at a time when the Lord is inviting young people to become ever more engaged in gathering Israel and the work of salvation and exaltation. Now, some young people might be thinking, “Gathering Israel, the work of salvation and exaltation—that sounds a bit overwhelming.” President Ballard, what would you say to help them feel up to that challenge?
President Ballard: Well, I think President Nelson said it: “Anytime you do anything that helps anyone—on either side of the veil—take a step toward making covenants with God and receiving their essential baptismal and temple ordinances, you are helping to gather Israel.”1 I believe the Children and Youth program provides plentiful opportunities to do just that. Through gospel learning, service and activities, and personal development, children and youth help themselves and others take those steps toward making and keeping covenants. They are participating in the gathering of Israel.
Elder Cook: And as their parents and leaders, you are playing a vital role. Even in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, you have taught the gospel in your homes. And through technology, you have found inspired ways to help children and youth participate in virtual or socially distant service and activities. And you have ministered to the children and youth, inspiring them to set goals to grow more like Christ during this unique time.
President Ballard: We know it hasn’t always been easy, and many of you still have questions. Today we hope to provide a little help—specifically, we’d like to show how the Children and Youth program can be a resource to help the rising generation become “bound to the Savior.” So to start, we’ve compiled a few short video clips as a reminder of the basics of the Children and Youth program.
Elder Gerrit W. Gong: The Children and Youth program of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is exciting and unique. It invites you to participate fully in the work of salvation and exaltation.
President Nelson: Let me first begin with the vision of the program, which is to “strengthen the rising generation’s faith in Jesus Christ, and help children, youth, and their families progress along the covenant path as they meet life’s challenges.”
May I share a scripture that will help? It is one of the few scriptures we have that give insight about the Savior when He was your age. It is recorded in Luke 2:52, “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.”
President Dallin H. Oaks: This program is designed to help you become more like our Savior in four areas: spiritual, social, physical, and intellectual. And when you go forward on this path, I urge you not to focus so much on the tasks that you’re completing, but your longer term goal is what you are becoming.
President Bonnie H. Cordon: The significant difference from the past programs to now is that you will have an opportunity through personal revelation to choose what you need to do in your life to better follow the Savior.
President Nelson: Now we’re going to review how spiritual, social, physical, and intellectual growth is nurtured through gospel learning, service and activities, and personal development. Each of these are intended to help children and youth strengthen their faith in Jesus Christ. The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, the General Authorities, [and] the General Officers invite you to help the children and youth to get the gospel from their minds down deeply into their hearts.
President Ballard: That’s a pretty good summary. I think the clear message is that our central focus—in this program and everything that we do—is to build faith in Jesus Christ and become more like Him.
Elder Cook: Yes, and I love the point that was made about personal revelation being one of the key differences in this program to help us do that. If we can help our children and youth turn to heaven, they will have the guidance they need to move forward throughout their lives. And as we turn to heaven as parents and leaders, we will know how to adapt this program to each individual’s ability and circumstances.
Now the rest of this broadcast will include four segments led by our organization General Presidents, one each for parents, Primary leaders, adult youth leaders, and quorum and class presidencies. These segments are also available separately so you can use them in training, councils, or other meetings. After each audience is addressed, President Ballard and I will give some concluding remarks.
President Ballard: We will begin with a conversation for parents, led by President Jean B. Bingham, Relief Society General President, and President Mark L. Pace, Sunday School General President.