“Church Open Houses Result in Baptisms,” Ensign, Aug. 1994, 78
During the past four years the Missionary Department of the Church has reported great success with the satellite missionary open houses, often aired in the fall of each year.
Last October’s initial presentation of The True and Living God was seen by an estimated three hundred thousand people in nearly three thousand different locations in the United States, Canada, and parts of the Caribbean. The program was also recorded and sent to all the missions worldwide.
Loved by Church members and members of other faiths as well, the open-house video presentations, such as The Prodigal Son and On the Way Home, have been some of the Missionary Department’s finest video productions.
The first open-house broadcast on 28 October 1990 was a premiere showing of the production The Prodigal Son. Positive response from those who saw the program was so great that two years later another missionary satellite video production, On the Way Home, was released. The next two broadcasts in the series were The True and Living God and a special program about families featuring Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve and incorporating the best of the Homefront Series public service announcements.
According to the Missionary Department, the underlying purpose of the satellite series is to introduce members of other faiths to spiritual feelings that will lead them to accepting the opportunity to hear the missionary discussions.
In many missions this purpose was realized through the combined efforts of full-time missionaries and members. For example, in the California Ventura Mission, fifty-nine people accepted an invitation to hear the discussions after seeing the 1993 production The True and Living God. Of those fifty-nine people, twenty-eight became members of the Church.
Ventura’s mission president, Roger C. Butterfield, told one story of elders who invited a couple they had just met to an open house. The family went to the open house and were so touched by the message of the film as well as by the one-on-one presentations given afterward that they asked to be taught the discussions. The couple and their granddaughter were baptized two months later on Christmas Day.
In another area of the same mission, a bishop invited an entire family to the open house. The whole family listened to the discussions, and a few months later a daughter in the family was baptized.
“If you can get people to come to these open houses,” said President Gerald G. Smith, Jr., of the Arizona Phoenix Mission, “the Spirit often really touches their hearts and some take the discussions.” Eleven people in the mission were baptized as a result of the broadcast, he said.
President Robert E. Floto from the Indiana Indianapolis Mission told the story of a Taiwanese youth, Lilian Lin, who saw her parents stripped of all their belongings and jailed for being Christians. At about this same time, Lilian met a Latter-day Saint exchange student in Taiwan who told Lilian that if she ever went to the United States she should look up The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Lilian did come to the United States many years later and was invited by a missionary to the open house presentation The True and Living God. Lilian and her husband, Pei Ping, felt the Spirit while there and later joined the Church.
President Sheldon F. Child reported that from the three open houses held in the New York New York South Mission, nine people were introduced to the Church and later baptized. President Child summed up the satellite open-house success in three words—“It just works.”