“Insights from June Conference,” Ensign, Oct. 1975, 70–71
For the entire era of the existence of the Church, we have been preaching the gospel to the nations, but in 145 years we have sent about 200,000 missionaries into the field. We have hardly scratched the surface, though we have opened up a number of missions for proselyting and many, many good people have accepted the truth. We are sure the Lord is conscious, as we are, of the great world outspread before us which is without the gospel. Relatively small groups of members huddle in scattered areas in the world, and as we attempt to go into new nations and cultures, we come to locked doors; but we know of a surety that the Lord would never command us to do something for which he would not prepare the way, for as Nephi said, “I know,” and with Nephi we also 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 also Nephi says again, “… the Lord knoweth all things from the beginning; wherefore, he prepareth a way to accomplish all his works among the children of men; for behold, he hath all power unto the fulfilling of all his words. And thus it is. Amen.” (1 Ne. 9:6.)
With this in mind, we have launched a prayer campaign throughout the Church and hope that all people, parents, youth, and children, will join in a serious continuous petition to the Lord to open the gates of the nations and soften the hearts of the kings and the rulers to the end that missionaries may enter all the lands and teach the gospel in the approved way.
While it looks difficult, it is not impossible. We repeat the words given to Abraham and Sarah, when she was promised a son; and she was already ninety years old, barren and past the period of childbearing. And when she laughed, thinking it a ridiculous promise, the voice said, “Is any thing too hard for the Lord? … Sarah shall have a son.” (Gen. 18:14.) And she had a son.
Perhaps the Lord is testing us to see if we can supply the missionaries. So our universal prayer should have the two requests: (1) that we may get all of the missionaries that are needed to cover the world as with a blanket; and (2) when we are prepared, the Lord will open the gates. Is anything impossible for the Lord? We shall do our part and know firmly that the Lord will do what he has promised when the time is right.
To that end we have launched a campaign to encourage all normal boys to fill full-time missions. We are building a very large structure at Brigham Young University in which to teach them the languages. Recently we indoctrinated and sent into the mission field 64 new mission presidents, the largest number ever. We now have a total of 133 missions.
The Church has grown and now it is ready to put on its beautiful garments and go and preach the gospel, and we call upon all members of the Church, old and young, to accept the challenge and to assist in this great, prolonged, and relentless effort.
The original charter of Melchizedek Priesthood MIA was to join hands with all Church organizations and through priesthood and Relief Society lines make the single adults feel like they have a place in the Church and to seek to encourage the involvement of each one in some phase of Church activity. This certainly has not been accomplished. Some encouraging progress has, however, been made.
Based upon the cumulative reports and personal contacts, it would seem that there has been an increased identification of close to 100,000 single adults in terms of increased activity.
There has been an increased awareness by other organizations in the Church of the single adults, their concerns and interests, that has resulted in changes in policies and programs. The progress has really been a total Church team effort.
We have tried to be mindful that the most fundamental of all human relationships is our individual relationship with God. The divine Church has a stewardship of that relationship and in a large measure that stewardship comes about under and through the Melchizedek Priesthood. We are persuaded that above almost all else, every member of this Church needs a priesthood leader who has time and who cares for him.
We are still trying to reach the one. It has been and continues to be a soul-strengthening and soul-restoring activity.
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A cornerstone in the restoration of our souls is a belief in personal revelation. No one needs to be bewildered or stumble and fall. The experience of the Prophet Joseph, having a direct communication from God, is not unlike the pattern of experience of yours and mine and every man’s who seeks light from a divine source.
Joseph Smith, the Prophet, has given us not only the message of the divine restoration, but also the practical “how to” steps to obtain personal and divine communication. We would never be so bold as to think we were important enough for a personal appearance, but if we are worthy and in tune, we can certainly expect a personal message.
An independent study recently revealed the following conclusions:
1. “Overwhelmingly, the members of all four groups (Aaronic Priesthood and Young Women youth, as well as adult leaders who participated in the study) felt positive about the achievements of the present program, with about 90 percent rating it either very well or satisfactory.”
2. “Increased participation … was attributed to the interest and enthusiasm generated by youth leadership in planning. The responsibility for leadership not only led to activities of more particular interest to youth, but it also created opportunities for more youth to participate than would otherwise have been the case.”
3. “It appears that recent changes have, in fact, strengthened the program.” By modifying the responsibility for leadership between adults and youth, giving a much greater participation to youth as peer leaders, and changing the role of adult leaders to that of coach rather than quarterback, the involvement of the youth has been enhanced. “Responses to the questionnaire indicate that this change has been welcomed, particularly among youth, and that it is having the effects intended. … Taken as a whole, the future appears bright for the Aaronic Priesthood and Young Women.” …
Despite this progress, all is not well. Far too many of our youth are not yet involved in the activities, service, and programs that are available. We must renew our efforts, at all levels, to fellowship and friendship the inactive, the unordained, the nonmember.
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One of the great problems in the world today is the influence, in many areas of society, of unisex. The roles of men and women are becoming confused. Girls are dressing like boys and the boys are looking more and more like girls. We have a great need in the Church today to develop masculinity in our boys and femininity in our girls. This is counter to much of what is happening in the world.
Immorality is another problem that is cause for great concern. We are appalled and alarmed that immorality, in all its various approaches and disguises, is now trumpeted abroad in the media, in entertainment, coming even into our homes, with its sophisticated appeal and apparent widespread acceptance. The Lord has established only one standard of conduct and that standard is chastity, purity, and cleanliness—for all people, whether male or female, young or old, single or married. As President Spencer W. Kimball so forcibly reminds us, “God will not be mocked. Man has his free agency, it is sure, but remember, God will not be mocked.” (Ensign, November 1974, p. 9.)
Too many people have adopted a self-serving and self-centered attitude toward life. They include those Paul described as “lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, … unthankful, …
“… heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God.” (2 Tim. 3:2, 4.)
Such people think primarily in terms of themselves and what they can get out of a situation, with little or no regard for the feelings, needs, or rights of others. Such a self-seeking attitude divides friendships, destroys marriages, breaks up homes, and grieves the Spirit of the Lord so that it withdraws. A self-serving, self-centered view of life is not consistent with—in fact, is contrary to—the gospel of the Master, who taught us to love God above all else and our neighbor as ourselves. (See Matt. 22:35–40.)
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In our emphasis to strengthen the Aaronic Priesthood quorums, we must not in any way neglect our young women. The bishoprics are not the presidency of the Young Women, but they do have a revealed responsibility for their welfare. The young women have their own organization that is dependent upon priesthood support and direction. I feel that in too many cases stake presidencies and bishoprics have almost ignored the needs of the young women. Brethren, we will never save our boys unless we save our girls. As a matter of fact, these sweet, lovely, virtuous young women, having high ideals, understanding fully the responsibility a young man has when he holds the priesthood, can have an immeasurable influence for good in the lives of young men.
May I plead with you to support the efforts of the Young Women leaders in the Church. They need to know that their stake presidencies and bishoprics really care and are willing to do what is necessary to help them carry out their stewardship for the young women of the Church.