In our area plan, we have all received the charge to love, serve, and minister to one another by sharing the gospel with others not of our faith.
Engaging in conversations with people about the restored gospel—and providing referrals to missionaries—are very evident ways we can and should do missionary work. However, we are also expected to share the gospel by providing clarification to those who misunderstand, lovingly correcting false information from those who are misinformed, and even defending the Church when under attack by those who would do us harm. In the words of Alma in Mosiah 18:9, we are to “stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places.”
Many years ago, one of my best friends was in his very first class in law school. The teacher was a renowned intellectual to whom the students were paying close attention. During that lecture, she started to expose her views on religion—portraying it negatively. At a certain point, she even inferred that those “Mormon missionaries” you see in the streets were actually agents of a foreign government disguised as religious representatives. At that moment, my friend interrupted the lecture by raising his hand and saying, “Professor, I was one of those ‘agents’ in Portugal for two years.” He noticed that she was puzzled and confused. So he asked permission to explain, went to the blackboard, and started “sharing the gospel” with all present in that classroom.
He explained about the evidence of the existence of Heavenly Father, the creation of our spirits, the plans presented for us to come to this earth, the dispensations starting from Adam until Jesus Christ, and how His Church ended in apostasy. My friend taught about the Restoration through the Prophet Joseph Smith and bore his testimony—and then the class time ended. As a result of his approach, he received an apology from the teacher and he earned the respect of all his classmates that day. In fact, he was chosen to act as the class representative in the student body government and was later named to be the keynote speaker at their graduation a few years later.
His courage to clarify and correct false information—and then bear his testimony—exemplifies what the Apostle Paul was teaching to the Romans when he said, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ” (Romans 1:16). When we too act boldly and courageously to defend the Church and our beliefs, we are also sharing the gospel in a very powerful way!
Nowadays, one of the main areas where our courage to share the gospel is necessary is when we use social media platforms. Proactively we can—without being preachy or self-righteous—share our beliefs—simply, lovingly, and with conviction. We can share our thoughts about the Savior at special occasions such as Christmas and Easter. We could post or tweet about the way particular general conference talks have influenced our thinking. We may also post short verses of the Book of Mormon and our feelings about them. All these might inspire and attract someone to the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.
As we navigate through our social media relationships, there will be times when we will need to defend the values encompassed by the restored gospel such as the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman, our position on abortion, the doctrine on gender, and even the reality of the existence of a Heavenly Father and the mission of His Son, Jesus Christ. While we certainly should not engage in debates around our beliefs, we should lovingly—but clearly—state our position as taught by the scriptures and especially through our living prophets. Positioning ourselves appropriately and spiritually in the social media crowd is a very effective way to share the gospel.
All of us are invited to serve, love, and minister by sharing the gospel. We may do it proactively by talking to everyone who will listen to our message—but also by courageously correcting and clarifying misunderstandings about the restored gospel and the Church. As we do so, the Lord will direct us to those “who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it” (Doctrine and Covenants 123:12).
Elder Joni L. Koch was sustained as a General Authority Seventy in April 2017. He is married to Liliane Michele Ludwig; they are the parents of two children.