Con Amore

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“Con Amore,” New Era, Sept. 2003, 26

Con Amore

In Italian, that means “with love.” That’s what I needed to learn about teaching my friend the gospel.

My friend Roberta and I had always shared everything—until it came to the Church. We met the missionaries in our hometown in Italy and listened to the first few discussions together. But while my testimony grew day by day, Roberta became less and less interested. I found myself struggling to choose baptism, knowing my friend would not be coming into the Church with me.

One evening as I was skimming the Bible, I chanced to read Matthew chapter 10. Verses 34–38 struck deep into my heart:

“Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.

“For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother. …

“And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.”

The Spirit testified that I should follow the path of righteousness, even though my friends and relatives might not understand. So I was baptized.

My friendship with Roberta did not end, but we were not as close. She could not understand my enthusiasm for the gospel, and I could not understand her desire for the worldly things that no longer seemed so important to me.

The dividing “sword” the Savior spoke of had fallen between us. I suffered because of this, but I also began to judge my friend: How could she reject something as simple and beautiful as the gospel? She must have a hard heart if she could not accept something so obvious.

Sensing my attitude, Roberta grew defensive. Naturally, she didn’t like being thought of as hard-hearted. Every time I mentioned religion, she changed the subject. God became someone we argued about.

Two years passed. One day I asked Roberta if she would travel with me to the city of Foggia, where I was to receive my patriarchal blessing. She agreed to go, mostly because she hadn’t been on a trip in a while.

While Roberta waited in another room, Brother Vincenzo Conforte gave me a wonderful blessing. Afterward, I was so caught up in the Spirit that I completely forgot about Roberta, who must have been feeling like a fish out of water as she waited for me. But Brother Conforte noticed her. When he learned she was not a member of the Church, he humbly knelt by her chair. Looking into her eyes, he bore a sweet and powerful testimony. God truly lived and loved her, he testified, and she could come to know Him through simple prayer.

That testimony touched Roberta’s heart. And it completely changed the way I thought about sharing the gospel with others. With that simple gesture, the patriarch taught me how to be a true witness of God.

Now I realize that we can help bring our loved ones closer to God if we will speak about Him with the sweet, loving voice of the Spirit. God is love, and it is through love that we choose Him. Because of His love for us, God called Joseph Smith to restore His Church, so that we can learn to love perfectly. And the one we bear witness of is Jesus Christ, the most humble and meek Son of God.

Since I had this experience, many of my friends have come into the Church. My friend Roberta is even considering studying the gospel. And I have learned something I will never forget: Whenever we testify of the Savior and His gospel, we must do so with love.

Illustrated by Dilleen Marsh