“Education: A Spiritual Endeavor,” Liahona, Apr. 2023.
Blessings of Self-Reliance
Education: A Spiritual Endeavor
The Church offers Latter-day Saints throughout the world access to an affordable, online, spiritually based education.
President Russell M. Nelson has called education “a religious responsibility.”1 But for many people, education is a scarce resource, available only to the brightest or those with the most financial resources. Brian K. Ashton, president of BYU–Pathway Worldwide, explained that in many countries, if students don’t show aptitude for college at a young age, they miss out on future educational opportunities.2
But EnglishConnect and BYU–Pathway Worldwide (see accompanying sidebars) provide opportunities for members of the Church and their families and friends to further their education. These resources give students hope and are designed to help them succeed.
“We serve adult learners, first-generation learners, and anyone else interested in an affordable online education,” said President Ashton. “For those who speak English or want to learn English, these programs offer an opportunity to be taught by the Holy Ghost and to become what God wants them to be. That’s a powerful message for students worldwide.”
Our Greatest Educational Ally
Our greatest ally in pursuing higher education is not how smart we are but rather how diligently we seek help from the Holy Ghost, said President Ashton. “Learning is a spiritual endeavor, and learning by the Holy Ghost helps us learn how to receive revelation.”
Education isn’t just about earning a degree or qualifying for a job, President Ashton added. “It’s bigger than that. It’s about how to live, how to work under the influence of the Holy Ghost, and how to become like Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.”
President Ashton said that when we do things that invite the Spirit into our lives, the Holy Ghost can quicken our ability to learn more efficiently and more effectively. Those things include keeping the commandments, being diligent, exercising faith, and starting our studies with scripture study and prayer.
“When we are learning by the Holy Ghost,” he said, “we feel that delicious swelling motion in our breast [see Alma 32:28]. Recognizing that feeling is when learning becomes fun! The Church university system helps us do that, and it’s available to anyone who wants to be taught by the Holy Ghost.”
Revelation and Learning
Through EnglishConnect, Haustia Rocha Ballam took responsibility for her education as she increased her testimony of the gospel.
Haustia Rocha Ballam wanted to learn English so she could pursue a university degree through BYU–Pathway Worldwide. As a new member of the Church, she also wanted to learn more about the gospel. EnglishConnect was her ticket to do both.
“I did not speak English,” recalls Haustia, from Bahia, Brazil. “I could only say ‘Hi’ and ‘How are you?’”
Haustia says she will always remember her first EnglishConnect in-person gathering, where she wondered if she would ever expand her English beyond simple greetings. That changed when one of the service missionaries bore his testimony at the end of the gathering.
“I was not understanding anything during the class, but I understood everything he said because I felt the Spirit,” she says. “That helped me not to give up. When I left the gathering, I was so happy, with determination to learn English and to keep studying with EnglishConnect.”
With that determination—and a lot of hard work, prayer, and faith—Haustia overcame her shyness and fear. She learned gospel principles “that helped me take responsibility to become what I want to be in the future.” And she became a “lead student,” making lifelong friends, helping others, and gaining confidence.
After EnglishConnect, Haustia continued to BYU–Pathway Worldwide, where she completed foundational courses (called PathwayConnect) and then a bachelor’s degree online in applied health from Brigham Young University–Idaho. She said her education has opened doors to many job opportunities. Today she works in health-related customer support.
“When we learn English and learn about the gospel at the same time, Heavenly Father helps us by giving us revelation to learn,” she says. “I would tell new students, ‘Don’t give up on your dreams. Embrace this incredible opportunity to study through EnglishConnect and BYU–Pathway Worldwide. It will bring you important opportunities to achieve your educational and spiritual goals.’”
God Will Prepare the Way
For Fu Pak Wai, an idea blossomed into a business that answered a prayer.
For many years, Fu Pak Wai worked in computer animation in Hong Kong. He enjoyed the work, but it demanded a lot of time.
“When I returned home from work each evening,” he says, “my son was already in bed.”
As he thought about his family and future, Brother Fu attended one of the Church’s “Starting and Growing My Business” self-reliance groups. For 12 weeks, group members discussed how to start, grow, finance, and improve a business. They also talked about how to find and keep customers.
Armed with new knowledge, Brother Fu got an idea, which blossomed into a business that answered a prayer.
In his spare time, Brother Fu started selling bicycle accessories and second-hand bicycles online. Then he took online courses to learn how to repair bicycles. Finally, he found a small building to rent that would accommodate a bike shop.
“I still had my full-time job while I was selling bicycle accessories and fixing bikes part-time,” he says. “After doing that for a year, I quit my full-time job.”
Now Brother Fu has more time for his family.
“It was an answer to prayer,” he says. “And now I get to see my son in the morning before he goes to school and in the afternoon after school. It’s the best.”
Starting his own business has also given him more time to serve his community and God’s kingdom, doing missionary work and helping others become self-reliant.
“As I developed my business,” Brother Fu recalls, “I also developed a stronger testimony of keeping the Sabbath day holy and living the law of tithing. I don’t know how everything will work out. We can’t see everything ahead of us. We just move forward step by step, and God will prepare the way.”