“Are You Overthinking How to Share the Gospel?” Ensign, April 2020
To say that I wasn’t athletic growing up is an understatement. From basketball to badminton, sports and I just didn’t get along. And I had the bumps, bruises, and emotional scars to prove it. So, I was surprised to learn a lesson about missionary work in the most unexpected of places: my middle school gym class.
As we learned how to play volleyball, I was immediately impressed by the teamwork involved. One player hit the ball with their forearms to pass it to another. This was called a bump. Another player, called the setter, used their fingertips to push the ball high into the air, priming it for the next move. The spike followed, which required a high vertical leap and a hard palm smack to the ball. If all went according to plan, the ball would be thrust to the opponent’s floor, scoring a point.
I marveled as I watched my talented classmates bump, set, and spike the ball. Each teammate had an important but differing role to play, and none of them could do it alone.
My volleyball lesson happened to coincide with another lesson about teamwork. My family and I were members of the Church, but we hadn’t been active in years. As a teenager, I was a near stranger to the restored Church of Jesus Christ. Around this time, I was introduced to Madison, an enthusiastic member of the Church who became my best friend. She radiated light, and I gravitated to her like a moth. I longed to be happy—and to make others happy—like her. Her example, not her words, is what sparked my interest in the gospel. When we would have sleepovers, I saw how Madison prayed and read her scriptures every night. And I picked up on the habit too. Slowly, traces of the light I so longed for started to enter my heart.
This was my bump.
Sadly, my family moved away from where Madison lived when I started high school. I worried about how I would continue to feel that light she had brought into my life, especially when my family was crumbling under serious challenges. So, even though I was irrationally anxious to do so, I registered for seminary at my new school. This was one of the best decisions I ever made. Throughout my seminary experience, one angelic teacher after another loved and taught me in ways that changed my life. I felt the Spirit profoundly and learned new truths that felt oddly familiar.
This was my set.
Though I knew the Church was true, I was still afraid to attend Church meetings. Thankfully, the president of my new Young Women class was wise beyond her years. She lovingly and persistently invited me to activities until I felt comfortable enough to go to church with her family. She took me under her wing, and eventually she even convinced me to join her on our ward’s pioneer trek. I wasn’t a less-active member or a project to her. She simply treated me like a genuine friend. And I felt that genuine love.
She was my spike.
Each of these amazing people, though they had no idea they were part of a team, was placed in my life in exactly the right sequence. In hindsight, the hand of the Lord was clear. He trained some of His best players and orchestrated a perfect game that ended up developing my testimony of the gospel.
As young adult Latter-day Saints, we are to help gather Israel. And yes, that can seem like a super daunting task when you overthink it. And it can be easy to feel guilty when you feel like you’re not doing enough. But sharing the gospel with others doesn’t have to be as complicated as we make it out to be sometimes. Since returning to church, I’ve found that it’s rarely just one shepherd who brings a lost sheep into the fold. It’s often multiple friends being examples in simple ways who have the biggest impact.
Do you consider acts like being a friend, smiling at a stranger, including a new student in your group at school, or ministering to a neighbor as missionary work? You should! Every kind act has the potential to lead others to our Savior. Love is the key. In fact, Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has given us five guilt-free ways we can participate in the gathering of Israel:
“Draw close to God.”
“Fill your heart with love for others.”
“Strive to walk the path of discipleship.”
“Share what is in your heart.”
“Trust the Lord to work His miracles.”1
It’s as simple as that. The bumpers, setters, and spikers in my life took these simple steps, and I know that Heavenly Father used them to help lead me back to the gospel. Over the years, I’ve learned that I may not be cut out for volleyball (or really any other sport, for that matter), but I do have something valuable to contribute in the gathering of Israel. Because I was gathered through the love and examples of others who radiated the Savior’s light, I now have the privilege to help gather others with that light too.