“When the World Will Be Converted,” Ensign, Oct. 1974, 3
My beloved brethren and sisters, this is a momentous time. I am sure that you know how weak I feel in this place that Brother Lee had filled so admirably. No one expected what has happened less than I. I felt absolutely certain that I would die, when my time came, as president of the Twelve. I had no idea that this could ever happen. But since it has happened there is only one thing for us to do and that is to move forward and this is our purpose today.
I said at President Lee’s funeral that no one had prayed harder than Sister Kimball and I for his restoration when he was ill and for his continuation while he was well. He was such an admirable leader, and so I approach this new responsibility with fear and trembling.
Now, all of you have much to do with the missionary work of the Church in stakes or missions. May I now discuss with you some of the things which have been uppermost in my mind.
Every area of the Church must properly feel that its work is of greatest value, but let me quote the Lord in a revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith:
“And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!” (D&C 18:15.)
If there were no converts, the Church would shrivel and die on the vine. But perhaps the greatest reason for missionary work is to give the world its chance to hear and accept the gospel. The scriptures are replete with commands and promises and calls and rewards for teaching the gospel. I use the word command deliberately for it seems to be an insistent directive from which we, singly and collectively, cannot escape.
I ask you, what did he mean when the Lord took his Twelve Apostles to the top of the Mount of Olives and said:
“… And ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8.)
These were his last words on earth before he went to his heavenly home.
What is the significance of the phrase “uttermost part of the earth”? He had already covered the area known to the apostles. Was it the people in Judea? Or those in Samaria? Or the few millions in the Near East? Where were the “uttermost parts of the earth”? Did he mean the millions in what is now America? Did he include the hundreds of thousands, or even millions, in Greece, Italy, around the Mediterranean, the inhabitants of central Europe? What did he mean? Or did he mean all the living people of all the world and those spirits assigned to this world to come in centuries ahead? Have we underestimated his language or its meaning? How we be satisfied with 100,000 converts out of nearly four billion people in the world who need the gospel?
After his crucifixion the eleven apostles assembled on a mountain in Galilee and the Savior came to them and said:
“… All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:”
(He said “all nations.”)
“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.” (Matt. 28:18–20.)
Again the word power and the word command and the promise of continual support.
In 1830 when the Lord sent Parley P. Pratt, Oliver Cowdery, Peter Whitmer, and Ziba Peterson to the Lamanites he added:
“… I myself will go with them and be in their midst; and I am their advocate with the Father, and nothing shall prevail against them.” (D&C 32:3.)
Did he mean all the nations then extant? And then he said,
“… And, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. …” (Matt. 28:20.)
Do you think he included all the nations that would be organized up until that time? And as he commanded them to go forth, do you think he wondered if it could be done? He reassured us. He had the power. He said, “All power is given me in heaven and in earth … and I am with you alway.”
Again as Mark records the events after the resurrection, he upbraided those who had some doubts about his resurrection; then commanded them:
“… Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15.)
And this was just before the ascension. Do you think he meant Egypt and Palestine and Greece? Do you think he included the world of 33 A.D. or the world of 1970, 1980, 1990? What was included in his phrase “all the world” and what did he mean by “every creature”?
And Luke records the event—
“… That repentance and remission of sins should be preached … among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” (Luke 24:47.)
Again, his last command. Surely there is significance in these words! There was a universal need and there must be universal coverage.
As I remember the world as Moses saw it—it was a big world.
“… And Moses beheld the world and the ends thereof, and all the children of men which are, and which were created. …” (Moses 1:8.)
I am constrained to believe that at that time the Lord knew the bounds of the habitations of man and the areas that would be settled and already knew his people who would possess this world.
Still impressing Moses with the magnitude of his works and glory, the Lord showed him more.
“… Moses cast his eyes and beheld the earth, yea, even all of it; and there was not a particle of it which he did not behold, discerning it by the spirit of God.
“… And their numbers were great, even numberless as the sand upon the sea shore.
“And he beheld many lands; and each land was called earth, and there were inhabitants on the face thereof.” (Moses 1:27–29.)
Remember also that Enoch, the prophet, beheld the spirits that God had created. (See Moses 6:36.) These prophets visualized the numerous spirits and all the creations. It seems to me that the Lord chose his words when he said “every nation,” “every land,” “uttermost bounds of the earth,” “every tongue,” “every people,” “every soul,” “all the world,” “many lands.”
Surely there is significance in these words!
Certainly his sheep were not limited to the thousands about him and with whom he rubbed shoulders each day. A universal family! A universal command!
My brethren, I wonder if we are doing all we can. Are we complacent in our approach to teaching all the world? We have been proselyting now 144 years. Are we prepared to lengthen our stride? To enlarge our vision?
Remember, our ally is our God. He is our commander. He made the plans. He gave the commandment. Remember what we have quoted thousands of times as told by Nephi:
“And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.” (1 Ne. 3:7.)
And as I read the scripture I think of the numerous nations that are still untouched. I know they have curtains, like iron curtains and bamboo curtains. I know how difficult it is because we have made some efforts. Surely the Lord knew what he was doing when he commanded. And like Nephi we can say:
“For the fulness of mine intent is that I may persuade men to come unto the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, and be saved.” (1 Ne. 6:4.)
And certainly the command to the original apostles of this dispensation followed the command of the others of earlier years, and you Twelve have that same command.
The 112th section of the Doctrine and Covenants was addressed to Thomas B. Marsh, the President of the Twelve in 1837, and concerns the Twelve Apostles. The keys of the kingdom were given to the Presidency and the Twelve. Apparently President Marsh had been praying for his brethren and the Lord listened:
“… Thine alms have come up as a memorial before me, in behalf of those, thy brethren, who were chosen to bear testimony of my name and to send it abroad among all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people. …” (D&C 112:1.)
“… Thou shalt bear record of my name, not only unto the Gentiles, but also unto the Jews; and thou shalt send forth my word unto the ends of the earth.” (D&C 112:4.)
He was commanded:
“… Let not the inhabitants of the earth slumber, because of thy speech.
“… Thy path lieth among the mountains, and among many nations.” (D&C 112:5, 7.)
You, the Twelve, today inherited that command.
My brethren, why did the Lord continue to repeat and repeat these phrases if he did not have meaning for them? To President Thomas B. Marsh, and to you, the Twelve, the Lord said:
“… I have chosen [you] to hold the keys of my kingdom … abroad among all nations—
“That thou mayest be my servant to unlock the door of the kingdom in all places. …” (D&C 112:16–17.)
I introduced to you Brother David Kennedy. I have a vision that probably Brother Kennedy and others may assist the Twelve in finding the keys that have apparently been lost to many nations wherein we can open those worlds.
As to Brother Marsh, the promise came to you and me regarding the opening of the doors:
“Wherefore, whithersoever they shall send you, go ye, and I will be with you; and in whatsoever place ye shall proclaim my name an effectual door shall be opened unto you. …” (D&C 112:19.)
When I read Church history, I am amazed at the boldness of the early brethren as they went out into the world. They seemed to find a way. Even in persecution and hardship, they went and opened doors which evidently have been allowed to sag on their hinges and many of them to close. I remember that these fearless men were teaching the gospel in Indian lands before the Church was even fully organized. As nearly as 1837 the Twelve were in England fighting Satan, in Tahiti in 1844, Australia in 1851, Iceland 1853, Italy 1850, and also in Switzerland, Germany, Tonga, Turkey, Mexico, Japan, Czechoslovakia, China, Samoa, New Zealand, South America, France, and Hawaii in 1850. When you look at the progress we have made in some countries, with no progress in many of their nearby countries, it makes us wonder. Much of this early proselyting was done while the leaders were climbing the Rockies and planting the sod and starting their homes. It is faith and super faith.
These men of valor began to walk the earth with dignity and honor, with mantles on their shoulders and keys in their hands and love in their hearts.
To the Twelve the Lord said,
“You have a work to do that no other men can do. … There will be times when nothing but the angels of God can deliver you out of their hands. …” (History of the Church, vol. 2, p. 178.)
Now let me speak of the expansion which I think is necessary and, may I add, which I think is possible. The Lord said again:
“… All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” (Matt. 28:18.)
The Lord gave to Thomas B. Marsh and Joseph and Sidney and Hyrum power “to hold the keys” of the kingdom and that they would be the servants who could “unlock the door of the kingdom.” (See D&C 112:16–17.)
To those intrepid leaders the command came:
“… And in whatsoever place ye shall proclaim my name an effectual door shall be opened unto you, that they may receive my word.” (D&C 112:19.)
The Twelve have the keys and those they send have the command to open doors. Today we are blessed with many strong, trained men, in government, in foreign service, and with much prestige and “know-how.” Perhaps we can bring to our call men like these who can make new contacts with emperors and kings and rulers and magistrates.
Somehow I believe the Lord meant what he said through the centuries.
Again to the apostles through their president, Thomas B. Marsh:
“Contend thou, therefore, morning by morning; and day after day let thy warning voice go forth; and when night cometh let not the inhabitants of the earth slumber, because of thy speech.” (D&C 112:5.)
“For verily the voice of the Lord is unto all men, and there is none to escape; and there is no eye that shall not see, neither ear that shall not hear, neither heart that shall not be penetrated.
“And the voice of warning shall be unto all people, by the mouths of my disciples, whom I have chosen in these last days.” (D&C 1:2, 4.)
Somehow, brethren, I feel that when we have done all in our power that the Lord will find a way to open doors. That is my faith.
“Is any thing too hard for the Lord?” he asked, when Sarah laughed when she was told that she would have a son. When she heard this in the tent door, she knew that both Abraham at 100 years and she at 90 years were past the age of reproduction. She could not bear children. She knew that, as well as it has been known that we could not open doors to many nations.
“And the Lord said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh. …
“Is any thing too hard for the Lord? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.” (Gen. 18:13–14.)
Brethren, Sarah did have a son, from Abraham, the father of nations.
“Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead [and that was Abraham, 100 years old], so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable.” (Heb. 11:12.)
Is anything too hard for the Lord?
Also to Jeremiah he had said:
“Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me?” (Jer. 32:27.)
If he commands, certainly he can fulfill.
We remember the exodus of the children of Israel crossing the uncrossable Red Sea.
We remember Cyrus diverting a river and taking the impregnable city of Babylon.
We remember the Lehites getting to the promised land.
We remember the Revolutionary War and the power of God that gave us triumph.
I believe the Lord can do anything he sets his mind to do.
But I can see no good reason why the Lord would open doors that we are not prepared to enter. Why should he break down the Iron Curtain or the Bamboo Curtain or any other curtain if we are still unprepared to enter?
I believe we have men who could help the apostles to open these doors—statesmen, able and trustworthy—but, when we are ready for them.
Today we have 18,600 missionaries. We can send more. Many more! Eight thousand, nine hundred went through the mission home in 1973.
I believe it was John Taylor who said, “God will hold us responsible to the people we might have saved, had we done our duty.”
When I ask for more missionaries, I am not asking for more testimony-barren or unworthy missionaries. I am asking that we start earlier and train our missionaries better in every branch and every ward in the world. That is another challenge—that the young people will understand that it is a great privilege to go on a mission and that they must be physically well, mentally well, spiritually well, and that “the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance.”
I am asking for missionaries who have been carefully indoctrinated and trained through the family and the organizations of the Church, and who come to the mission with a great desire. I am asking for better interviews, more searching interviews, more sympathetic and understanding interviews, but especially that we train prospective missionaries much better, much earlier, much longer, so that each anticipates his mission with great joy.
Not that I had much influence on it, but when I came into the Council of the Twelve in 1943 there were less than one million members; today there are 3,353,000. We then had 146 stakes and about 40 missions, and we now have 633 stakes and 107 missions. We have grown from 937,000 in 1943 to 1,116,000 in 1959, and 3,300,000 in 1973. That means approximately a 19 percent increase in the 16 years between 1943 and 1959 and approximately a 196 percent increase from 1959 to 1974. This is phenomenal growth.
It may be of interest to you brethren, some of you, to know that of the 17,564 missionaries, as of last week, 9,560 are teaching the gospel in English, which is about 55 percent of all the missionaries, and these are in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, and the Philippines. About 8,000 missionaries are learning languages in the language training missions. These 45 percent are training in the three language schools—about 17 percent or 3,000 in Spanish, about 1,000 in German, about 1,000 in Japanese, about 400 in French, and about 600 in Portuguese, and substantial numbers in Danish, Finnish, Dutch, Norwegian, Swedish, Chinese, Italian, Korean, Thai, Samoan, Afrikaans, and Navajo.
It is interesting to me that some statistician told us that in 33 A.D. when the Savior himself was stressing so strongly “every nation, kindred, tongue, and people” that there were on the earth possibly a quarter billion people (250,000,000).
Eighteen hundred years later, when the command came through Joseph Smith to proselyte the world, our experts estimated that there were one billion people (1,000,000,000), or about four times as many as in the meridian of time. And now as we renew the injunction to cover the earth with the gospel, it is estimated that there are probably almost three and a half billion (3,400,000,000).
The question is frequently asked: Should every young man fill a mission? And the answer has been given by the Lord. It is “Yes.” Every young man should fill a mission. He said:
“Send forth the elders of my church unto the nations which are afar off [He said elders—we have been talking about elders]; unto the islands of the sea; send forth unto foreign lands; call upon all nations, first upon the Gentiles, and then upon the Jews.” (D&C 133:8.)
He did not limit it.
The answer is “yes.” Every man should also pay his tithing. Every man should observe the Sabbath. Every man should attend his meetings. Every man should marry in the temple and properly train his children, and do many other mighty works. Of course he should. He does not always do it.
We realize that while all men definitely should, all men are not prepared to teach the gospel abroad. Far too many young men arrive at the missionary age quite unprepared to go on a mission, and of course they should not be sent. But they should all be prepared. There are a few physically unfit to do missionary service, but Paul also had a thorn in his side. There are far too many unfit emotionally and mentally and morally, because they have not kept their lives clean and in harmony with the spirit of missionary work. They should have been prepared. Should! But since they have broken the laws, they may have to be deprived, and thereon hangs one of our greatest challenges: to keep these young boys worthy. Yes, we would say, every able worthy man should shoulder the cross. What an army we should have teaching Christ and him crucified! Yes, they should be prepared, usually with saved funds for their missions, and always with a happy heart to serve.
The Lord says:
“And that every man”—(Did you catch the words, “every man”?) “should take righteousness in his hands and faithfulness upon his loins, and lift a warning voice unto the inhabitants of the earth: and declare both by word and by flight that desolation shall come upon the wicked.” (D&C 63:37.)
Note that he said every man; but we must find a way to have every man prepared.
Now, how can we do this? We see that there are these elements to be considered: the breaking down of resistance of the nations of the world to receive our missionaries; a greatly increased missionary force (greatly, I emphasize); a better trained missionary army; and better and additional methods and approaches.
Now here we will consider each one in its turn. We need to enlarge our field of operation. We will need to make a full, prayerful study of the nations of the world which do not have the gospel at this time, and then bring into play our strongest and most able men to assist the Twelve to move out into the world and to open the doors of every nation as fast as it is ready. I believe we have many men in the Church who can be helpful to us, who are naturally gifted diplomats. I believe we should bring them to our aid and as stated before, I have faith that the Lord will open doors when we have done everything in our power.
Second, I have already discussed and will discuss a little further, an enlarged army of missionaries.
Third, I believe that the Lord is anxious to put into our hands inventions of which we laymen have hardly had a glimpse.
The Prophet Joseph Smith declared: “The truth of God will go forth boldly, till it has penetrated every continent, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished.”
A significant revelation states: “For, verily, the sound must go forth from this place into all the world, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth—the gospel must be preached unto every creature. …” (D&C 58:64.)
I am confident that the only way we can reach most of these millions of our Father’s children is through the spoken word over the airwaves, since so many are illiterate. We have proved the ability of our young men to learn other languages.
President David O. McKay, speaking in the October 1966 conference of the Church, said of the scientific discoveries of recent years which will make possible the preaching of the gospel to every kindred, tongue, and people: “They stagger the imagination.”
And further: “… discoveries latent with such potent power, either for the blessing or the destruction of human beings as to make men’s responsibility in controlling them the most gigantic ever placed in human hands. … This age is fraught with limitless perils, as well as untold possibilities.”
King Benjamin, that humble but mighty servant of the Lord, called together all the people in the land of Zarahemla, and the multitude was so great that King Benjamin “… caused a tower to be erected, that thereby his people might hear the words which he should speak unto them.” (Mosiah 2:7.)
Our Father in heaven has now provided us mighty towers—radio and television towers with possibilities beyond comprehension—to help fulfill the words of the Lord that “the sound must go forth from this place unto all the world.”
Even though there are millions of people throughout the world who cannot read or write, there is a chance to reach them through radio and television. The modern transistor radio can be mass produced by the thousands in a size that is small and inexpensive. We can preach the gospel to eager ears and hearts. These should be carried by people in the marketplaces of South America, on the steppes of Russia, the vast mountains and plains of China, the subcontinent of India, and the desert sands of Arabia and Egypt. Some authorities claim that this tiny miracle will be recorded by future historians as an event even greater than the invention of the printing press. The transistor is an eloquent answer to the illiteracy and ignorance which reign supremely over the earth. The spoken voice will reach millions of hearers who can listen through a $3 or $4 transistor but could not read even an elementary treatise.
There are over 7,000 AM and FM radio stations in the United States, with thousands more in other parts of the world. There are innumerable opportunities for us to use these stations overseas, if we only prepare the message in the native languages.
Also, missionaries could be supplied with small portable cassette tape players and go into the homes with prepared messages to humble family groups all around the globe. Millions of people are anxious and willing to learn, if only they can hear the “sound” in their own language and in a manner that they can grasp and understand.
Just think what can be accomplished when we broadcast our message in many languages over numerous radio stations, large and small, around the world, and millions of good people listening on their transistors are being indoctrinated with the truth.
The Lord has blessed the world with many Early Bird satellites. They are stationed high in the heavens, relaying broadcast signals back to almost every corner of the earth’s surface. Today there are 67 earth receiving stations operating in 50 countries of the world. Certainly these satellites are only the genesis of what is in store for the future of worldwide broadcasting.
With the Lord providing these miracles of communication, and with the increased efforts and devotion of our missionaries and all of us, and all others who are “sent,” surely the divine injunction will come to pass: “For, verily, the sound must go forth from this place into all the world, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth—the gospel must be preached unto every creature. …” (D&C 58:64.) And we must find a way.
We are happy with the people of Hong Kong, but according to our records only 1,000, or less than 1 percent of the people, have accepted the gospel.
We have a stake in South Korea and a mission there, with about 7,500 members. What must be done to reach the other 37,000,000? There must be a way, for the Lord does not talk in riddles. He must have anticipated that something could be done so that his word might be fulfilled.
The millions of people in the Philippines would receive the gospel in large numbers if it were properly presented to them. We have two missions and a stake there. We should use their own young men as missionaries and then every facility that is available to bring them to a knowledge of the true church.
There are 14,000,000 people in Taiwan, 2,000,000 in Singapore, 119,000,000 in Indonesia, 31,000,000 in Korea, 40,000,000 in Thailand, and 103,000,000 in Japan, and all these 300,000,000 people are sons and daughters of God and have a right to hear the gospel, and we have not only the right to give it to them but the obligation to do so.
We mention Australia with its over 13,000,000 people, and we have been doing missionary work there since 1851. Now, after 123 years, we still have only 29,000 members, for which we are grateful, with 13,000,000 yet to touch, and for 123 years we have been sending missionaries from this land to that land and today have more than 600 missionaries in Australia. Of this 600 plus missionaries, only a relatively small handful, about 5.5 percent, are Australians. Where have we failed to help these good people to see their duty in this pivotal matter?
In Mexico we have around 54,000,000 people with about 92,000 members. We have 489 full-time missionaries now serving in that country, only 122 of which are native Mexicans. We have had some difficulty getting missionaries from the United States into Mexico or we would have far more. There has been a limitation of about 360 American missionaries that could get visas. We are unable to send a new elder from the United States until another elder is released and has surrendered his visa. In addition to this problem, the cost of placing missionaries in Mexico has greatly increased, and so for both these reasons there is ample argument that Mexico, with its nine stakes and five missions, should furnish its own missionaries, or the equivalent.
Suppose that South Korea with its 37,000,000 people and its 7,500 members were to take care of its own proselyting needs and thus release to go into North Korea and possibly to Russia the hundreds who now go from the states to Korea.
If Japan could furnish its own 1,000 missionaries and then eventually 10,000 more for Mongolia and China, if Taiwan could furnish its own needed missionaries plus 500 for China and Vietnam and Cambodia, then we would begin to fulfill the vision. Suppose that Hong Kong could furnish its needed missionaries and another 1,000 to go to both of the Chinas; suppose the Philippines could fill its own needs and then provide an additional 1,000 for the limitless islands of southeast Asia; suppose the South Seas and the islands therein and the New Zealanders and the Australians could furnish their own and another several thousand for the numerous islands of south Asia and for Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Burma, Bangladesh, and India.
With this movement of missionaries who would be traveling north and west, the lands of the world could begin to be covered with the gospel as the lowlands of the world are covered with the oceans.
Now in another part of the world, suppose that Mexico and Central America provided far more missionaries than they needed themselves and the people of South America had reached the point where they could export numerous fine missionaries and then suppose that the United States and Canada awakened to their real responsibility, sending thousands of missionaries to join them, going east and north so that Iceland, Scandinavia, southern Europe, Germany, and Europe could be covered.
Great Britain, with seven missions and 14 stakes now but numerous others later, should join that army and all together the army of the west would move across western Europe and central Europe and Arab lands, and in a great pincer movement join their efforts with the missionary army from the east to bring the gospel to millions in China and India and other populous countries of the world. You will note the size of the men on the map which is intended to represent the relative population size—our problem in those areas.
May we emphasize again that numbers are incidental and secondary to our main purpose, which is the same as that of our Heavenly Father—to bring to every soul the gospel which can open the doors to eternal life for man. Our objective is not for power or domain, but totally spiritual. And to every nation and people which opens its borders to the gospel will come unbelievable blessings.
It must be realized, too, that the directions of the assignments are, as indicated by the arrows, merely suggestive. The individual assignments could be merely an expansion of the present-day coverage. The missionaries would be sent where the most good could be accomplished—something like this:
“The sharing of the gospel often requires us to cross language and cultural barriers and the arrows you see on the screen are representative of what needs to happen and will not, in every case, represent a perfect match of which country could best supply the missionaries to preach the gospel in another country. The basic point is, where the land masses of the world are, there, also, are the populations masses to whom we must bring the gospel of Jesus Christ.
This would be difficult. It would take some time. Sometimes it might seem impossible but again remember the little stone cut out of the mountain without hands which was destined to roll forth and fill the whole earth. It has gone a long way but it must go farther.
Using all the latest inventions and equipment and paraphernalia already developed and that which will follow, can you see that perhaps the day may come when the world will be converted and covered?
If we do all we can, and I accept my own part of that responsibility, I am sure the Lord will bring more discoveries to our use. He will bring a change of heart into kings and magistrates and emperors, or he will divert rivers or open seas or find ways to touch hearts. He will open the gates and make possible the proselyting. Of that, I have great faith.
Now, we have the promise from the Lord that the evil one will never be able to frustrate totally the work that He has commanded us to do.
“This kingdom will continue to increase and to grow, to spread and to prosper more and more. Every time its enemies undertake to overthrow it, it will become more extensive and powerful; instead of decreasing it will continue to increase; it will spread the more, become more wonderful and conspicuous to the nations, until it fills the whole earth.” (President Brigham Young, April conference, 1852.)
Further, Brigham Young wrote:
“We believe, as the time draws near, the Lord will hasten his work, and nations will soon be gathered into the fold for Christ.
“The work urges and is becoming very much enlarged and extended, and requires a commensurate accumulation of men and means, and expansion of mind and energy, ability and perseverance. The Lord, our God, is our strength, and under this accumulation and weight of care and business, has hitherto given in grace and strength, according to our day and generation, has sustained us in every time of need and preserved and delivered us from the hands of our enemies. Blessed forever be his holy name; great and wondrous are his ways. Let all nations give heed to his servants, for they are preparing the way for his coming; yea, when he shall come in power and great glory, to take unto himself a kingdom, prepared and made ready in the due time of the Lord; for this is the Lord’s work; woe be unto him who putteth forth his hand, his influence, his energies, or any of his powers to oppose it.” (From a letter written by President Brigham Young to Elder Samuel W. Richards, who was presiding over the European Mission. The date of the letter is October 29, 1852. It is found in the Millennial Star, vol. 15, pp. 106–07.)
You are acquainted with the statement of the Prophet Joseph Smith in the Wentworth Letters written March 1, 1842. (History of the Church, vol. 4, p. 536.) I am sure the Prophet Joseph looked ahead and saw many problems with national animosities and fears with war and commotions and jealousies, and I am sure that he saw all these things would happen and yet in spite of everything he said with great boldness and assurance:
“No unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly and independent, till it has penetrated every continent; visited every clime, swept every country and sounded in every ear; till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the great Jehovah shall say the work is done.”
The immensity of the work before us is emphasized as we consider the population of the world as it approaches the four billion mark.
I am under no delusion, brethren, to think that this will be an easy matter without strain or that it can be done overnight, but I do have this faith that we can move forward and expand much faster than we now are.
As I see this almost impossible demand, I believe that you brethren, our representatives, can immediately accept the challenge and in your stakes and missions explain to the people how they must increase their missionaries, how they can finance their missionaries, how they can indoctrinate and train these additional missionaries, and how, through all the agencies of the Church, they can move ahead. Here is where you come in.
A year ago now I was in Japan and Korea, and as I saw the many handsome young men joining the Church and giving leadership to its organizations, I seemed to envision a great movement when there would be thousands of local men prepared and anxious and strong to go abroad. As I have been in Mexico since that time, I seemed to envision again Mexican youth and Latins from Central and South America in great numbers qualifying themselves for missionary service within their own country and then finally in other lands until the army of the Lord’s missionaries would cover the earth as the waters cover the mighty deep.
I have stated the problem. I believe there is a solution. I think that if we are all of one mind and one heart and one purpose that we can move forward and change the image which seems to be that “We are doing pretty well. Let’s not ‘rock the boat.’”
In all the countries I have ever visited I have found many intelligent and qualified people who give leadership in their countries, and I also remember numerous people from deprived countries enjoying benefits from the gospel.
In our stake missionary work at home we have hardly scratched the surface.
Brother T. Bowring Woodbury told us of 93 cooperating families in one Utah stake who were working with 93 non- or part-member families. Clifford Johnson told us of bringing five of 26 non-members into the Church in a few months.
It can be done.
We can change the image and approach the ideals set out by President McKay, “Every member a missionary.” That was inspired!
I know this message is not new, and we have talked about it before, but I believe the time has come when we must shoulder arms. I think we must change our sights and raise our goals.
When we have increased the missionaries from the organized areas of the Church to a number close to their potential, that is, every able and worthy boy in the Church on a mission; when every stake and mission abroad is furnishing enough missionaries for that country; when we have used our qualified men to help the apostles to open these new fields of labor; when we have used the satellite and related discoveries to their greatest potential and all of the media—the papers, magazines, television, radio—all in their greatest power; when we have organized numerous other stakes which will be springboards; when we have recovered from inactivity the numerous young men who are now unordained and unmissioned and unmarried; then, and not until then, shall we approach the insistence of our Lord and Master to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.
Brethren, I am positive that the blessings of the Lord will attend every country which opens its gates to the gospel of Christ. Their blessings will flow in education, and culture, and faith, and love, like Enoch’s city of Zion, which was translated, and also will become like the 200 years of peaceful habitation in this country in Nephite days. There will come prosperity to the nations, comfort and luxuries to the people, joy and peace to all recipients, and eternal life to those who accept and magnify it.
Someone gave us this:
“To walk with God, no strength is lost.
To talk with God, no breath is lost.
To wait on God, no time is lost.
I pray the blessings of the Lord will be upon us as we approach our great responsibilities, in the name of the Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.