While my companion and I visited a recently baptized member, a pastor friend of hers came by. “Oh, LDS missionaries!” he said. We were happy he knew us, and we could see that he was interested. As we welcomed him, I felt the need to properly introduce ourselves.
“We are missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” we told him.
“Yes,” he replied. “Mormons, or LDS.”
That didn’t sound good to my ears. I told him that people call us Mormons because of the Book of Mormon.
“No,” he said. “Even your members call themselves by that name.”
We tried our best to help him understand the Church’s true name, and we bore testimony of the truthfulness of the Church. We also invited our recent convert to bear her testimony.
This incident reminded me of the importance of using the Church’s true name. I had been ignorantly omitting the Savior’s name when I shortened the name of His Church. Now I was beginning to understand better some scriptures I had read many times. Verses in 3 Nephi helped me understand the strong necessity of not changing the name of the Lord’s Church if I truly want to take upon me His name:
“Have [ye] not read the scriptures, which say ye must take upon you the name of Christ, which is my name? For by this name shall ye be called at the last day. …
“Therefore, whatsoever ye shall do, ye shall do it in my name; therefore ye shall call the church in my name; and ye shall call upon the Father in my name that he will bless the church for my sake” (3 Nephi 27:5, 7).
Later, while trying to get a transport to the chapel, I used the full name of the Church to direct the driver to where we were going. I was careful not to omit “Jesus Christ.”
I was surprised when the driver told us he didn’t know the place. When my companion asked the man if he had heard of the LDS Church, he said, “Yes.”
Because we had been saying “Mormons” and “LDS” all along, people did not recognize the full name of the Church. I resolved to pray that we members of the Church would realize our mistake. While thinking about this, I remembered the prophet. I understood that only the prophet can speak for the Lord to the whole world, so if a change was going to happen, it would need to come from him.
But I thought to myself, “How is this even possible? Even the Church’s website is abbreviated ‘LDS.org.’ How will that be changed?”
In our prayers, we earnestly pleaded with Heavenly Father to inspire His servant, the prophet, to guide us in this important matter. I had faith that God truly does reveal His will to His prophet.
I was scheduled to be released from the Nigeria Benin City Mission in September 2018. But my release date was changed to October—the same October that President Russell M. Nelson gave an important message to the worldwide Church:
“For much of the world, the Lord’s Church is presently disguised as the ‘Mormon Church.’ But we as members of the Lord’s Church know who stands at its head: Jesus Christ Himself. …
“… The rest of the world may or may not follow our lead in calling us by the correct name. But it is disingenuous for us to be frustrated if most of the world calls the Church and its members by the wrong names if we do the same.”1
You can’t imagine how surprised and happy I was! President Nelson’s message was so clear, and I felt that our prayers had been answered. I was grateful beyond words.
This experience added to my testimony that prayers are answered and that Heavenly Father does inspire His prophets. That this is the Lord’s Church, and that He knows what to do in His Church. Even the Church’s website, which I thought wasn’t possible to change, was updated to ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
I know that President Nelson is called of God. I also know that the Prophet Joseph Smith did not name the Church that was restored through him. Neither did Mormon. It was the Savior Himself who said, “For thus shall my church be called in the last days, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” (Doctrine and Covenants 115:4).