Easier than You Think
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“Easier than You Think,” New Era, June 2004, 28

Easier than You Think

You can succeed in sharing the gospel. Just follow the example of the teens in the Danville California Stake. You’ll find that missionary work is not as hard as you might think.

After work one evening, Kylie Laney said to her coworker Mike Comfoltey, “I’m speaking in church tomorrow. Do you want to come?”

Mike, who is not a member of the Church, agreed to attend.

Kylie gave her talk, but Mike didn’t make it to church that Sunday. At work the next day, she joked with him, “You have to come next week then!”

He did. The priests made him feel welcome in their quorum. He enjoyed church and kept going. Then Mike started going to Mutual with Kylie and his new friends from the Danville (California) Second Ward. On Kylie’s invitation, he took the missionary lessons.

“I liked the feeling of being at church,” Mike says. “I liked being with the missionaries. It just felt right.” He prayed about the Church, received an answer, and was baptized last month.

In the Danville Second Ward, it’s not just Mike Comfoltey who joined the Church because of a friend’s invitation. Janie Hart, Nick Turpin, Beth Lancaster, Tenaya Dunbar, and John Martin have all been baptized in the last couple of years because their friends invited them to church, seminary, Mutual, youth conference, and to meet with the missionaries.

Success in Sharing the Gospel

It would be easy to do missionary work if you were fearless and all of your friends accepted your invitations to meet the missionaries. But that’s not reality. Even with all the good experiences the youth in the Danville stake have had, they still feel nervous before asking a friend to come to church or take the missionary lessons. But any nervousness they feel is overcome with joy when their friends accept their invitations.

Vindie Rosdahl, a Mia Maid, remembers overcoming her nervousness to talk with a friend about the Church. Vindie says, “I was so glad we talked about it. The times we talk about the gospel and feel the Spirit strengthen our friendship.”

Like Vindie, these Danville teens have worked for years at sharing the gospel. Some of their friends had to wait until they were 18 to get baptized. In the meantime, the member friends of these converts have prayed and fasted for them, sat with them at church and at activities, answered their questions, and offered encouragement.

They are happy to share the gospel with friends, even if some of them don’t accept their invitations. But they keep asking, and they keep being friends.

Being a Good Friend

When Nick Turpin was 14, the only thing he knew about the Church was that his friends Steve Andersen and Jason Farrell were members. That’s when they gave Nick a Book of Mormon with their testimonies written in the front of it. Then they invited him to seminary, telling him their teacher was cool and they wanted Nick to learn more about the Church. That was February of 2002. Nick was baptized three months later.

That may seem quick, but Nick’s testimony didn’t come from one overwhelming spiritual experience. It came quietly, gradually. He says, “It just felt right at seminary and at church.” He says he always figured there was a purpose to life, and the missionaries explained what that purpose was. Reading the Book of Mormon also helped his testimony grow, and, pointing to Steve and Jason, he says, “These guys helped me to join the Church. When I was with them before I joined the Church, it was great to know that we were doing the right thing and still having loads of fun.”

Steve says, “Our friendship wasn’t based on Nick taking the discussions. We just wanted him to know more about the Church. If he had said no, our friendship wouldn’t have changed.”

Nick’s friends introduced him to the gospel, but it was the Spirit who converted him. Nick says, “In my heart, I know that if I didn’t believe that the Church was true, I wouldn’t have joined just because my friends wanted me to.”

Inviting Your Friends

John Martin is one who had to wait until he was 18 to get baptized. Unlike most of these recent converts, however, some of John’s family—his dad, grandmother, and some cousins—are members of the Church. With their support and the help of two friends in the Danville Second Ward, Adam Broderick and Matt Peterson, John started going to church a couple years before he was baptized.

John ran on the cross-country team with Adam, who encouraged him to read the Book of Mormon. At school, John occasionally talked to Matt about the Church. One summer, they invited John to attend youth conference.

After the conference, John’s friends invited him to church. He went and kept going because “it was a good atmosphere, and I learned a lot,” John says. “They also talked about values I believed in, like not drinking or swearing.”

That summer John was working at a grocery store until 10 p.m. each night. Before and after work, he’d read the Book of Mormon for an hour or two. He thought, “There’s something to this book, because it gives me a good feeling.” During that summer, he and Matt would talk about verses they liked.

The day before school started, John began taking the discussions, with Matt there to support him. At the first discussion, the missionaries invited John to be baptized. Though he wanted to say yes, his mom objected. But he was allowed to attend church and seminary, where they studied the Book of Mormon that year.

The Book of Mormon is the foundation of John’s testimony. He says, “The missionaries told me that if I have a testimony of the Book of Mormon, everything else falls into place.” John has a strong testimony of the Book of Mormon, so he believes the Church is true and that Joseph Smith was a prophet.

A month after he turned 18, John was baptized. About 100 people were there, including his friends in the ward and relatives from as far away as Michigan.

In addition to the gift of the Holy Ghost, John has noticed some other blessings: “Since I’ve been interested in the Church, things have gone well, like school and family and deciding everyday things. Most things have improved.”

The Blessings of the Gospel

John and the other new members in the Danville Second Ward are grateful for the Church in their lives. They’re happier now; many of their questions about life have been answered; and they can have the Spirit’s constant companionship.

Sharing the gospel also blesses the sharer. Kylie Laney says, “The best feeling I’ve ever had is when friends accept an offer to hear the gospel. Sharing the gospel is not only a duty, but it makes you happy too.”

Kelli Saunders, a Laurel, shares the gospel “because it makes me so happy. Some of my friends aren’t happy, but I know the Church can make them happier. We’re so blessed to be members of the Church.”

Clearly, the Danville teens don’t stop doing missionary work after one friend has been baptized. Yet none of these teens calls sharing the gospel “missionary work.” For them it’s not work—it’s a way of life, part of being a good friend. Jason Farrell, remembering Nick’s baptism, says, “It’s not that hard to invite someone to take the discussions. Steve and I invited Nick because we thought he’d enjoy learning more about the Church.”

Being a Good Example

These youth are good friends and good inviters, but the best thing they’re doing is living the gospel. Their lives show how happy they are, how much fun they can have while living high standards, and how much the gospel means to them.

Beth Lancaster, a Mia Maid, had been going to church for years with her member friends before she was baptized. One day, when Beth was 13, she asked her friend, Megan Rasmussen, if she could take the discussions. Beth says, “I wouldn’t have asked her if it hadn’t been for all my friends’ examples and the joy they had in their lives.”

“I saw the examples of the Rasmussen family and the Bromley family and how happy they were and how much love they had in their lives,” Beth says. “I decided I wanted some of that.”

Sixteen-year-old Jake Bromley, one of Beth’s good friends, says, “You never know when somebody will be looking at you, wondering why members of the Church are so good and what makes them so happy. Be a good example 100 percent of the time.”

On a Mission … at Home

The teens in the Danville California Stake have found that sharing the gospel not only blesses the converts’ lives but also strengthens their friendships and testimonies and gets them excited to serve missions. Here’s how they do it:

  • Be a good example. Don’t be afraid to live the gospel and your standards around your friends.

  • Be a good friend. Enjoy friendships with those not of our faith.

  • Invite your friends to church, seminary, Mutual, or other Church activities.

  • At Church meetings and activities, introduce yourself to visitors. Help them feel comfortable and welcome there.

  • As a group of youth in your ward or branch, fast and pray for your friends who are taking the discussions.

Photography by Ryan Carr and Larry Hiller

On the grounds of the Oakland California Temple, Mike Comfoltey (center) visits with two of his member friends, Kylie Laney and Matt Peterson. Mike first attended church because Kylie invited him. Members of the priests quorum, like Matt, made Mike feel welcome in the ward.

Each of the recent converts in the Danville Second Ward has good friends in the ward. John Martin (right, center) visits with the missionaries and his friend, Matt Peterson. Nick Turpin (below, center) has known Steve Anderson and Jason Farrell for years. And Beth Lancaster (opposite page, left) was impressed with the good examples of her member friends like Jake Bromley and Vindie Rosdahl.

By welcoming and befriending new people in the ward, Kelli and Brie Saunders (below) help move missionary work forward.