“Feed My Sheep,” Ensign, Nov. 1980, 27
I bring you greetings today from the wonderful Saints in the British Isles and Africa. They send their love to each one of you and especially to President Kimball and these great Brethren here on the stand.
It has been inspiring to feel the Spirit of the Lord brooding over these nations, to sense the new levels of dedication and commitment in the hearts of faithful members of the Church, many of whom are newly baptized members.
To you wonderful parents of the two thousand missionaries who are serving in these lands, and to the sons, daughters, and families of devoted missionary couples who are serving there—I bring you greetings. We thank you for all you have done and are doing to sustain them: the sacrifices you make that they can serve, the encouraging letters you write each week, and the faith-filled prayers you offer each night and morning in their behalf. Yes, missionary work is family work.
This is a great time to live, when the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ is on the earth. It has a miraculous power to change hearts and give added purpose and new meaning to lives.
To you wonderful friends who are not yet members of this great Church: I hope you can feel our love for you. We are all children of our Father in Heaven. We are brothers and sisters. The inspired words of a primary children’s song speak of this great truth:
I am a child of God,
And he has sent me here,
Has given me an earthly home
With parents kind and dear.
(Sing with Me, B-76.)
We love each one of you. We love you enough that we know you will not be offended as we speak plainly to you, because love does not offend.
We have this message today for each one of you—that the authority of God has been restored and his church has been reestablished in the earth. I testify to you of this truth! But you do not have to take my word for it; you can know for yourselves. Those who are seeking and will humble themselves and reach up to our Father in Heaven in prayer can know of a surety whether or not it is the truth.
To assist in our search for the way, our Heavenly Father has caused a marvelous record to be brought forth in our day. It is a record of his dealings with the people who lived on the Western Hemisphere; and, like the Bible, it is a sacred record. It is called the Book of Mormon. It was translated by the gift and power of God from a record engraved on golden plates. This sacred book, unlike other books, has a promise. It says (and it is found on page 520 in this volume):
“And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost” (Moro. 10:4).
Literally thousands upon thousands have tested this promise and have found it to be true. They have received a witness. It has brought new meaning, added purpose into their lives.
Yes, you can know for yourselves! But you should also know that, once you have had this witness from the Spirit, you are then under obligation, sacred obligation, to testify of it to others.
And now, to those of us who are members of this great church: These are days of great missionary service. Over thirty thousand young men and women, together with faithful, devoted couples, are carrying this message to many nations and lands. Never before in this dispensation has such a worldwide effort been made to reach every soul in the earth. It is great, and we are mindful of the time and means which you and many others have so willingly given to this purpose.
But as great as our effort has been, it is still far, far from being enough. If we are going to carry this message to every land, every nation, every people, every soul as our great missionary prophet-leader has directed us, there is still one part of this vital missionary force that has not been awakened. It is like a sleeping giant waiting to be aroused. When this sleeping giant is fully awakened, the day of the sickle will have come to an end, and the day of the combine will come in. The harvest will be in millions in place of thousands, as it is today.
The great need today in missionary work is to have all the members, every member—those who bear His name, those who have had a witness—pull aside the curtains of fear and reach out in love to our friends and relatives and neighbors and let them know that we really care about them and warm them with our love, that they may know that we really do care for them as our brothers and sisters, that they too might enjoy these great blessings.
When we were baptized, we entered into a covenant with the Lord, and I quote from Mosiah, that with this covenant we “stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death” (Mosiah 18:9).
Now, silent witnesses are not of much value. The Lord has said: “It becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor.
“Therefore, they are left without excuse, and their sins are upon their own heads.” (D&C 88:81–82.)
He has also said to us as members of his church: “But with some I am not well pleased, for they will not open their mouths, but they hide the talent which I have given unto them, because of the fear of man. Wo unto such, for mine anger is kindled against them” (D&C 60:2).
“Open your mouths and they shall be filled, …
“Yea, open your mouths and spare not, and you shall be laden with sheaves upon your backs, for lo, I am with you.
“Yea, open your mouths and they shall be filled, saying: Repent, repent, and prepare ye the way of the Lord, and make his paths straight; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (D&C 33:8–10.)
Then, speaking of members of the Church in another revelation, the Lord has said about those members of the Church who would not be in the celestial kingdom but would have to be satisfied to be in the terrestrial kingdom: “These are they who are not valiant in the testimony of Jesus; wherefore, they obtain not the crown over the kingdom of our God” (D&C 76:79).
And Mark recorded the Savior’s words in his day: “Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels” (Mark 8:38).
I’d like to tell you that a person is never nearer the Lord than when he is reaching out, Savior-like, to bring another soul to Christ. The words of the poet Whittier say this truth:
Heaven’s gate is shut to him who comes alone;
Save thou a soul, and it shall save thy own.
(“The Two Rabbins,” The Complete Poetical Works of Whittier, Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1894, pp. 91–92.)
I might ask you this question: Do you have a ledger in which to account for your stocks and bonds and holdings? Many successful men do.
On several occasions men came to the Prophet Joseph Smith and asked him to inquire of the Lord what they could do which would be of most worth for them. And each time the answer came: “That … which will be of the most worth unto you will be to declare repentance unto this people, that you may bring souls unto me, that you may rest with them in the kingdom of my Father” (D&C 15:6).
Do we keep a missionary ledger where we might record that which will be of “most worth” to us?
You might be interested in this idea; it might help you, too. We have a family missionary ledger. It is just an ordinary ledger on which we have placed a picture of the risen Christ saying to his prophet, President Spencer W. Kimball, “Feed my sheep.” We have placed President Kimball’s picture there and our picture below it with his words saying, “Lengthen your stride! Do it now!” Then I have written my comment, “If it is to be, it is up to me!”—which means I have to do something about it now.
In this ledger we are listing the names of the wonderful people we meet in our regular course of life who haven’t yet become members of the Church. Under each name we record the date we met them and what we did with them.
Just as an example to show you how easy it is, let me tell you about these names, William and May Brown. In January 1979, when we first arrived in England, there was an unusual amount of snow. We had no snow shovel; there were none for sale. I tried to sweep the snow, but it was too heavy. Phillip Brown, a young man, and his friend stopped and asked if they could clear our yard. They did a nice job. Sister Reeve called Phillip Brown’s mother to ask him if he could come and clean the yard again and to tell her what a good job her son did for us. Mrs. Brown said, “Why don’t you come over to our home and have coffee and get acquainted with the neighbors?”
Sister Reeve went, but she had orange juice; and, of course, that gave an opportunity to tell them why—that we were Mormons. Mrs. Brown said, “I met some of your missionaries, and they’re surely a fine group of young men. If I were going to change churches, I’d join yours.”
On February 19, our forty-second wedding anniversary, we didn’t have anyone to share it with, and so we thought, “Why don’t we call William and May?” So we called them and said, “Won’t you come over and help keep this anniversary with us?” We’ve had just one pleasant experience after another. They have a Book of Mormon and an LDS hymn book (Mrs. Brown plays the organ in her church). We send cards as we travel; they are fine people. We are keeping in touch with them. They are good friends.
We haven’t set aside any special time for this missionary work but just look for opportunities with everyone we meet, and in this short time we have recorded twenty-nine names in our ledger. Three of these have been baptized, a fourth was to be baptized on October 3, and others are being taught by the missionaries.
When missionaries tract in England they have to knock on three thousand doors to find one person to listen. That means that over 90 percent of their time is spent in finding. Can you imagine what would happen if every family in the Church were to pull aside the curtain of fear and decide to reach out in love and friendship to their neighbors and friends? Not only would the harvest be great, but each family who participated in the process would share in the great blessings of missionary work.
The Lord promises great blessings to those who teach this gospel. In section 4 of the Doctrine and Covenants he says: “He that thrusteth in his sickle with his might [now, that means with some muscle], the same layeth up in store that he perisheth not, but bringeth salvation to his soul” (D&C 4:4).
“And any man [any man] that shall go and preach this gospel of the kingdom, and fail not to continue faithful in all things, shall not be weary in mind, neither darkened, neither in body, limb, nor joint; and a hair of his head shall not fall to the ground unnoticed. And they shall not go hungry, neither athirst.” (D&C 84:80.)
My, what a marvelous promise!
“And whoso receiveth you, there I will be also, for 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.” (D&C 84:88.)
To you brethren who are stake presidents and bishops: If you really want to sanctify your people—if you want to strengthen your wards and stakes—lead and involve them in missionary work. Every young man should be prepared to fill a mission. They get fifty years’ worth of spiritual training on a mission. It’s the greatest thing that can come to a young man. And every family should be a friendshipping family. I say to you fathers, if you really want to strengthen and bless your family, if you want to strengthen them—help your family to be a friendshipping family.
I witness to you that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, our Savior and Redeemer, and he speaks to us through his prophet, President Spencer W. Kimball.
I pray God to bless us that we might have the missionary spirit come into our hearts, that we might reach out and give to those who do not have the great blessings that we have. Remember now that Christ has no hands but our hands and no voice but our voice to do his work today. And I witness to you, it pays the greatest dividends, and I say this to you in the name of Jesus Christ, the Lord, amen.