“The opportunity to serve is one of the great blessings of membership in the Church.”1 As a young adult, serving in the Church can be a thrilling opportunity for growth, leadership, and strengthening your spiritual muscles. But with all the other responsibilities young adulthood brings, serving can sometimes be challenging—especially in areas where the Church is quite small. For example, what do you do when you’re called to be the stake Young Women president, you’re trying to prepare to serve a mission while also attending college and helping coordinate institute, and, oh yeah, you’re only 21?
For many areas of the Church, this isn’t an uncommon scenario. In New Caledonia, a small overseas territory of France with about 2,400 Church members, the young adult members are often given some pretty big responsibilities in building the Lord’s kingdom. President Russell M. Nelson once said to young adults: “You are the future leaders of the Lord’s Church! Are you ready to take the reins of leadership?”2 Out of necessity and out of the love they have of the Savior, young adults around the world are ready to serve and lead in the Church.
For many New Caledonian young adults, their missions help prepare them for a lifetime of Church service. Syoelanne (Syo) Ulivaka received a call to serve as second counselor in the bishopric only a week after being released from his full-time mission. “I had just finished my mission,” Syo says. “I was tired, and I had told myself, now I’m going to rest.” But he still accepted the call. “I realized I’ll go where the Lord wants me to go. I’m in His service—not just for two years, but for life.”
Since he served in the bishopric, Syo has now gotten married, has a child, and has moved to a different ward. But he continues to serve and fulfill his Church callings.
Elder Earl C. Tingey, emeritus General Authority Seventy, told young adults: “A Church calling is one of the most wonderful blessings you can enjoy at your stage of life. You have so much to contribute to the ward or branch where you live. Your talents and skills are necessary to a growing Church.”3 Syo isn’t the only young adult on the island whose skills have been put to use to help the growing Church—other young adults serve in almost every capacity at the ward and stake level. Syo says, “We try to bring back the things we’ve learned on our missions to strengthen our stake and our wards.” These young adults make many sacrifices in order to strengthen the kingdom in their home country, but as Syo remarks, “what we sacrifice is mostly our time.”
Some young adults have two or even three callings. “That can be a blessing for them, but it can also be a burden,” says Syo, as many struggle to balance the demands of young adulthood with their Church responsibilities. “It’s hard to do everything at the same time.” But Syo found that when he put the Lord first, the rest was easy to accomplish. He says, “The Lord has helped with everything else—school, finding a wife—it was all in the Lord’s hands.”
The prophets and apostles have strong opinions about the abilities and service that the young adults can provide in the Church: “We need your whole heart and soul. We need vibrant, thinking, passionate young adults who know how to listen and respond to the whisperings of the Holy Spirit.”4
Young adults in New Caledonia and all around the world are rising to this apostolic call. They realize that they are the future of the Church, and they choose to serve in any way they can. They encourage each other in their callings. They work with the missionaries. They share the gospel and invite their friends to church. They give advice to the youth in their wards and motivate them to serve missions. They travel long distances to attend the temple. They teach the nonmembers in their family. And all these efforts are building the kingdom.
Syo recognizes that, when it comes to serving the Lord, “We are His tools.” In these times of Church growth, the Lord will call upon the Saints of all ages, everywhere, to accept responsibilities to build and strengthen His kingdom. Are we ready to answer that call?