Several years ago, I was in a sacrament meeting where a new member shared what led to his conversion. One day, he was working in his garden when two young missionaries walked up the path towards him. One of the missionaries then asked him this question: “How would you feel if you knew that there was a living prophet and twelve Apostles on the earth today?” The man had never considered such a thing, and although not religious, he immediately wanted to know more. The missionaries taught him the gospel and he gained a personal testimony. All because he learned that once again we have living prophets and apostles walking the earth.
In Amos 3:7 we read, “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.” And Jesus teaches us that when we receive His servants, we receive Him (see John 13:20). What an extraordinary privilege and blessing it is that you and I can live in a day when once again living prophets and apostles travel the earth proclaiming the Lord’s word.
A few months ago, our prophet, President Russell M. Nelson, stood in front of over 4,000 Saints in Harare, Zimbabwe, and invited Elder Jeffery R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles to join him at the stand. It was an unforgettable moment as he then boldly declared to all present: “[You] are looking at two prophets tonight. You sustained 15 men at [last April general] conference time as prophets, seers, and revelators. Not only President Nelson, but his counselors and all twelve of the Apostles. We are prophets, seers, and revelators. . . . God has always taught His children upon the earth through prophets.”
Last April we participated in a sacred solemn assembly as, all around the globe, faithful members raised our hands in sustaining President Russell M. Nelson as President of the Church. Of this sacred occasion, President M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said: “As we each sustained President Nelson by our uplifted hands, we stood as witnesses before God and acknowledged that he is President Monson’s rightful successor. With our raised hands, we promised to hearken unto his voice as he receives direction from the Lord.”1
Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles added this statement about the newly sustained President of the Church: “He has been profoundly prepared and specifically tutored by the Lord to lead us at this time. It is a great blessing to now have dear President Russell M. Nelson as our loving and devoted prophet—the 17th President of the Church in this final dispensation.
“President Nelson is truly a remarkable man.”2
Those who have known President Nelson throughout his life all attest to his remarkable personal qualities and tremendous intellect and spirituality. Over 40 years ago, before he became an Apostle, and while actively performing heart surgeries, he literally saved my father’s life (or as President Nelson later told me, “I gave your daddy another 15 years”). The following are several journal entries by my parents from that time in 1975. Although written many years ago, these entries give a very personal glimpse of his spiritual qualities already so apparent:
From my mother’s journal, describing her feelings during this very anxious time: “Over this period as I talked with Doctor Nelson, I gained the impression that he combined everything he did and said with the practical and spiritual intertwined and that he was a most remarkable man and servant of the Lord.” Several days following the surgery, she recorded: “Doctor Nelson is such a wonderful person first and doctor second. He’s so bright, and to me, the gospel shines from his face.”
And from my father’s journal: “I felt complete trust and confidence in Doctor Nelson, knowing that he is a choice servant of the Lord. I knew that whether I lived or died, I was in the hands of the Lord.”
I add my personal testimony that not only is President Nelson a great man but that he is also called by the Lord to be one of His chosen prophets. He is unfailingly kind and despite a remarkable intellect, teaches with simplicity, humility, and compassion. He also teaches as a prophet would—inspiring us to not only do better, but to be better disciples of Christ.
In the April 2018 general conference, he urged us and pled with us to “increase [our] spiritual capacity to receive revelation.”3 He continues to show us how, as he has shared with us what the Lord has revealed to him to teach us, that we might live a higher and holier way.
As we participate and reflect on yet another historic general conference this October, I invite you to receive your own personal witness of the divine call of Russell M. Nelson as the Lord’s prophet in our day. I also invite you to prayerfully seek answers to the uniquely personal questions of your soul as you listen to or read the words of the prophets from this general conference. And finally, I invite each of us to follow the prophet’s fervent plea from last April for us to increase in our spiritual capacity to receive personal revelation. We can do this as we ask the Lord to help us hear and know, from the messages of His servants, what we need to do and become to be true disciples of Christ.
In the months that follow, we will eagerly read and study the words of living prophets and apostles found in the November general conference edition of the Liahona. How blessed we are to live in a day when prophets and apostles not only walk the earth but also speak to us the words of the Lord that we may receive Him as we receive His servants.
Elder S. Mark Palmer was called as a General Authority Seventy in April 2016. He is married to Jacqueline Ann Wood; they are the parents of six children.