Are You Still Here?
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“Are You Still Here?” New Era, Dec. 2002, 38

Are You Still Here?

Adapted from an April 2000 general conference address.

For two hours I waited patiently outside the Tabernacle. But could I get in?

Elder Gary J. Coleman

Nearly 30 years ago I desired to attend a general conference of the Church and drove 14 hours to be in Salt Lake City for the conference. I entered Temple Square at 8:00 A.M., where the line outside door number 10 was all the way across Temple Square and halfway down the south side of the Assembly Hall. I was nearly 300 feet from my goal. The usher called out that the Tabernacle was full. People dropped out of line, and I inched forward.

At five minutes before 10:00 I was the only person standing in front of my chosen door. The door opened, and the usher said, “Are you still here?” He closed the door, and my heart sank. As the choir began to sing the opening hymn at 10:00 sharp, the door opened one more time, and the usher beckoned me inside. He placed me on half a seat and behind a post, but a welcome seat it was! I was able to sustain the Lord’s chosen leaders and hear their counsel that special day.

The Prophet Joseph

In the latter days, God has continued His pattern for revealing truth. He chose a young man named Joseph Smith to learn about the eternal plan of salvation. Joseph was confused about the different religions in his community, but the scriptures led him to ask God what he should do (see JS—H 1:5–16). In answer to his prayer, God the Father and Jesus Christ appeared to him. Through this and other experiences, Joseph Smith was called as a prophet, like unto Moses and other biblical prophets. Because Joseph saw and talked with the Savior, his work was to restore the truth about the great plan of God and the divine mission of our Lord. I know that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God.

The Prophet Joseph received authority to teach th e gospel and bring forth additional scripture. He was commanded to translate writings of ancient prophets from The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. The Book of Mormon prophets also knew about the plan of salvation and the sacred mission of Jesus Christ. The appearance of the resurrected Christ to the ancient people of the Americas is recorded in this sacred book. He taught them His gospel and established His Church among them. I know the Book of Mormon is another testament of the divinity of Jesus Christ.

God has promised that the Holy Ghost will testify to each of us that sacred truths have been restored and that Joseph Smith was called by God to be a special witness of Christ and His gospel. We may come to know the truth of all things God has revealed through the power of the Holy Ghost (see Moro. 10:5).

Millions of converts to this Church initially accepted the truths proclaimed by our missionaries in the first discussion. They then opened their hearts to all the discussions taught by the missionaries. They were invited to be baptized, confirmed, become “fellowcitizens with the saints,” (see Eph. 2:19–20) and continue on the gospel path to additional sacred covenants made in the temple.

All my friends are on missions!

A young adult was seen near an institute of religion building, and he was asked if he had LDS friends. He responded, “Yes, and they are all on missions for the Mormon Church!” He was invited to be taught the gospel. He joined the Church. And one year later he was serving his own mission for the Lord.

A nonmember father whose son was serving a mission was asked, “Will you be baptized on Father’s Day?” He was baptized, with four former bishops of his family in attendance.

Promptings from the Holy Ghost will also guide us to others who seek the true gospel. The Lord has said, “I will be with you; and in whatsoever place ye shall proclaim my name an effectual door shall be opened unto you, that they may receive my word” (D&C 112:19).

The Lord will provide a way

A few years ago I drove to Temple Square in Salt Lake City to meet an acquaintance of the missionaries. Their guest did not keep the appointment. My response to the missionaries was, “The Lord will provide someone for us to teach.” In less than two to three minutes, two adult men walked through the front door of the North Visitors’ Center and directly up to us. They spoke Spanish, and we did not! We assured them the best we could that someone would be able to help them. In moments, the only Spanish-speaking sister missionaries in the entire mission arrived at the visitors’ center because they felt impressed to come there that morning!

Over a period of several weeks the missionary discussions were taught to those men, and they asked to be baptized. The Lord was true to His word. “An effectual door” was opened in the very moment it was needed for this beautiful experience.

Before I was a member of this Church, I asked God, the Eternal Father, in fervent prayer, about the truths of the Restoration. I know today, even as I knew that day, that hour, that moment 39 years ago, by the power of the Holy Ghost, that the principles and doctrines of the Restoration of the gospel are true. God lives. Jesus is the Christ. Joseph Smith was the prophet of the Restoration of the true gospel. The Book of Mormon is a record of holy prophets and another testament of the living Christ, who stands at the head of this Church. President Gordon B. Hinckley is the Lord’s prophet for our day. He and 14 other Apostles are special witnesses of Christ in the only true Church on the earth. I pray that all of us will be able to answer the question “Are you still here?” and enter through the proper door to all the blessings of the gospel, now and forever.

Photography by Jed Clark