“Program Testifies of the ‘Light of the Nations’” Ensign, Feb. 2005, 77–78
More than 16,000 Spanish-speaking people gathered in the Conference Center on Temple Square in Salt Lake City on November 13, 2004, for “Luz de las Naciones” (“Light of the Nations”), a program that celebrated Hispanic culture and focused on the central role that the Savior of the world plays in every individual’s life.
The program was prepared for those of Hispanic heritage, whether members of the Church or not. They were welcomed by a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and taught of the Savior by a member of the Seventy.
Speaking briefly in English at the end of the program, Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles gave them an impromptu welcome in behalf of the First Presidency and the Twelve. He commented, “What a beautiful program you have put on!” Then he reminded them in good humor to “be careful as you go home. Don’t forget that tomorrow is Sunday. Go to church.”
Elder Ballard was preceded by Elder Jay E. Jensen of the Seventy, who spoke to the group in Spanish about the meaning of the title for the program. We “declare to the world Jesus Christ is the Light of the Nations,” he said, and testified that the people of all nations must look to their Redeemer for peace and salvation. He quoted from “The Living Christ,” the testimony of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: “We solemnly testify that His life, which is central to all human history, neither began in Bethlehem nor concluded on Calvary. He was the Firstborn of the Father, the Only Begotten Son in the flesh, the Redeemer of the world” (see Ensign, Apr. 2000, 2–3).
Elder Jensen recounted the story of Christ walking on the water (see Matt. 14:24–33) and drew four lessons from it.
First, “the winds were contrary then, and now,” and we face many “contrary winds” in the problems common in the world today.
Second, “when we take our eyes off Jesus Christ and His gospel, we will sink—then, and now,” just as Peter did when he took his eyes off the Master and focused on the contrary winds around him.
Third, “those who accept the Savior’s invitation to have faith in Him and in His words will find peace and calm in their lives and will declare, then and now, ‘Of a truth thou art the Son of God’” (Matt. 14:33).
Fourth, “Jesus did not wait until they were in better circumstances to invite Peter to come to Him. In the midst of contrary winds and high-tossed waves, Jesus spoke reassuringly to ‘come.’ And when Peter began to sink, He ‘stretched forth his hand, and caught him’ (Matt. 14:31). And He does so today!”
Elder Jensen explained that the Lord’s invitation has gone out across the world to gather His people, to the mountains of North America in the early days of the Church, and later in their own lands. Prophets in earlier times testified that the gospel of Jesus Christ would be taken to His covenant people in the latter days through the Book of Mormon. “Our greatest desire is to bless you and your family with the fulness of His gospel, which is found in the Book of Mormon,” Elder Jensen said.
He pointed out that two testaments of Christ had been spoken of during the program: the New Testament and the Book of Mormon. “I testify that the Book of Mormon is Israel’s book. It is true. In it you will hear a familiar voice, the voice of the Spirit, the light of the nations saying, ‘Come unto Christ, … Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him’” (Moro. 10:30, 32).
In closing, he paraphrased an invitation from President Gordon B. Hinckley to people of all faiths to come and learn gospel truths: “We say to the people, in effect, you bring with you all the good that you have, and then let us see if we can add to it” (Nairobi, Kenya, member meeting, Feb. 17, 1998; quoted in Church News, July 4, 1998, 2).
Prior to the inspirational message by Elder Jensen, “Luz de las Naciones” offered selections of dance and music from many Spanish-speaking countries. It was the third year in a row that such a program has been held in the Conference Center.
The colorful strains of mariachi music are not often heard in the Conference Center, but they rang through its halls before the beginning of the program. Musicians and dancers performed for crowds entering the building. Paintings by Hispanic Church members were displayed in a hallway near the Main Street–level terrace entrance.
The program opened with a Latin American music and dance number featuring children waving colorful banners. Musical and dance numbers from several countries followed, with scenes from the countries projected on the large screens in the Conference Center auditorium during some of the numbers. Familiar Church hymns were also among the musical numbers on the program. These included a classical guitar rendition of “I Stand All Amazed” and choir renditions of “I Know That My Redeemer Lives” and “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing.” The choir consisted of Church members from Utah.
The program also included several brief vignettes that featured individuals testifying of the Savior and His influence in their lives.
More than 1,000 volunteers were involved in preparing and performing in the program. Performers in the program came from every Spanish-speaking country of the Americas and also from Spain. The two masters of ceremonies for the program were Omar Canals, a recently returned mission president who was born in Uruguay, and María Angélica Carr, an entertainer born in Cuba.