“Debut of Prodigal Son Video,” Ensign, Jan. 1991, 75
On October 28, stakes throughout the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico held open house programs, introducing the Church’s newest direct gospel message broadcast, The Prodigal Son.
Along with this half-hour presentation, which is a modern version of the biblical parable, the open house programs featured displays and exhibits that informed interested visitors and guests about the Church. In exhibit areas, segments of some of the Church’s other direct gospel message broadcasts were also shown on VCR units.
The Prodigal Son retells the timeless story of forgiveness and reminds all members—regardless of our level of activity in the Church—that forgiveness and repentance are essential in our everyday lives and in all relationships, but especially in our families. The video production tells the story of a Latter-day Saint family whose adult son falls into a destructive life-style. As this son repents and returns to the family, his older brother struggles to accept him and believe in his capacity to change.
The story shows how easy it is for us, like the older brother, to withhold our sympathy or understanding of our brother’s suffering for fear he won’t be sufficiently punished. This can be especially hard for people who think of themselves as trying to do what’s right.
The video production is part of a continuing call to less-active members to come back and for all to repent fully and come unto Christ. The central message of this video is that without the Savior in our lives, we lack the capacity to be truly forgiving, and our relationships will suffer.
Sent by means of the Church’s satellite broadcast network, the program, which included an introduction by President Howard W. Hunter of the Quorum of the Twelve, was beamed into 7,136 stakes. Local stake and mission leaders had been encouraged to inform members of the event so they could invite their friends, relatives, and acquaintances who might be interested in learning more about the restored gospel. Stakes and missions reported that members enjoyed the program, and many brought friends.
The Anaheim California Stake held two sessions, one at 5:00 p. m. and another at 7:00 p. m., attracting a total of 350 people, of whom 65 were guests or visitors.
Because of a large Spanish-speaking membership in at least two of the wards, stake leaders translated the video script beforehand and provided headsets for those who wished to hear the program in Spanish. “We are doing everything in our power to enable all members to feel unified in the faith,” says Victor Orvis, president of the Anaheim stake.
In Canada’s Red Deer Alberta Stake, four different rooms were set up with displays and exhibits in the stake center. They reported that 128 people visited the exhibit, 10 of whom were guests of members or missionaries. In the neighboring Wetaskiwin Ward building, 112 people attended, including 15 guests. The general response to the video broadcast was that it was very moving.
In Canada’s Saint John New Brunswick Stake, where the October 28 broadcast originating from Temple Square did not begin until late in the evening, open house programs were not scheduled until the following Sunday, November 4. A total of more than 500 people gathered for open house programs in buildings housing the stake’s individual units. Approximately one-fifth of those attending were not members of the Church or were less-active members, many of whom were deeply touched by The Prodigal Son. Twenty-five missionary referrals came as a result of the open house programs in the stake.
From Indiana, President Michael Ellis reports that printed invitations brought a good response in the Indianapolis North stake. Because of their extensive stake boundaries, they held open house programs in three buildings that had satellite dishes. Some four hundred members arrived at the three locations, bringing more than sixty guests.
Exhibits and presentations featured the Book of Mormon, family life, the Articles of Faith, and other subjects.
This video broadcast is the fifth in a series produced by the Church’s Missionary Department. Missionaries throughout the world are using videos to share gospel messages with people they might not otherwise reach.