“The Power of Members and Missionaries Working Together,” Liahona, July 2018
What the scriptures say is true: “In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established” (2 Corinthians 13:1). Members act as a third witness to the testimony of missionaries as they go out to reap the field that is white, ready to harvest.
I experienced the power of working with members on my mission between December 2013 and 2015. Members can help find, teach, and assist in the conversion process of many of the Lord’s children that the missionaries would otherwise be unable to or that would take them a long time to accomplish.
I remember a young man in my third area who was very passionate about serving the Lord and zealous in his effort and contribution to missionary work. He once tried to call a friend on phone but instead dialed a wrong number. The number belonged to a young lady who had been prepared to receive the gospel. They interacted for a few minutes and soon discovered they lived in the same area.
The meetinghouse was not too far from her home, and my young friend introduced himself and his faith and expressed interest in meeting her. The young lady’s name was Vivian. She was welcoming and friendly. She had a listening spirit. We acted promptly, and I soon met the strongest convert I will ever have on my mission.
What amazed me the most about Vivian was her readiness to act and keep commitments. She attended all Church meetings, usually arriving even earlier than the branch presidency on Sunday and earlier than everyone else on other meeting days within the week. She asked important questions that increased her knowledge of the gospel deeply. I was moved by her profound character and was inspired by her love for the Lord and for missionary work.
After her baptism, her voice became a powerful third witness to my later converts in the area as she spoke the language of the heart and with not many, but a few words, communicated passion for Christ, His righteousness, and the restored gospel unlike any other. To this day, I remember fondly the lovely experiences we had with her while walking in the sun, teaching and testifying to all those who would listen. She became an inspiration to the young men and women, and she helped us teach. It was a difficult area to work in but Vivian, with her light, made the hardest times the most memorable.
Working with members in missionary work has a powerful effect on themselves and on those taught that may not always be readily seen. Members who in many cases want to share the gospel but don’t know where to start get to develop teaching skills and greater understanding of gospel principles as they go out with the missionaries and contribute in lessons. They get to share in the joys of seeing others make difficult but important changes in their lives to come unto Christ. They grow and are strengthened to overcome temptation by the very things they testify of.
Many are usually inspired and amazed by how much of their communication skills are developed. Stirred with more courage, fortitude and enlightenment, they feel the Spirit and a strong urge to live gospel standards more fully. Missionaries need to encourage, teach, and promote member-missionary work and challenge members to engage in missionary work and reap promised blessings.
I struggled with learning a new language in my first area on mission, but one of the single adults, the branch mission leader at the time, was so instrumental in helping us bring the gospel to the doorstep of the townspeople. I won’t forget how he helped us with lesson translations and formed almost instant friendships with our investigators, helping them see and feel, by the power of the Holy Ghost, that they were taking the right step into the Lord’s Church.
Members have lived in the very areas missionaries serve far longer than the missionaries ever will and are very easily able to connect with those investigating the Church. They are a force to reckon with in teaching anyone, including their referrals or those from other members, more especially in cases of language barrier.
Francis, who had been baptized about a month before I was sent to be with my first companion in Abakrampa, was filled with energy and could not wait to talk about the peace he had found in the gospel. His mother testified of the change she could see in her son’s life. Thanks to the assistance and support of pioneer members in the area, Francis, after his conversion, and with his contributions and talks, helped lift and inspire many who needed strengthening.
In many ways missionaries may know more than members, but the convincing power of the Spirit and of a third witness cannot be underestimated.
David W. Adjavon served in the Ghana Cape Coast Mission. He is now pursuing his computer science education in Coimbatore, India.