“Member Missionary Task Force,” New Era, Mar. 2015, 34–37
Some goals stretch you more than others. And then there are other goals that hardly seem possible at first glance.
The youth planning committee from a stake in Texas, USA, knew they were shooting for the moon on this one.
“We weren’t really sure how we were going to do it,” says Kyle O., 17, one of the young men on the planning committee for their stake’s annual stake youth conference. Even the adult leaders let out a bit of a gasp after the youth proposed their plans.
So, what was the goal? Simply this: to send out 200 youth in pairs to bear their testimony about a gospel message with 100 different nonmember or less-active families. In the families’ own homes. During a single hour.
No point in setting goals that are boring, right?
The annual two-day conference is something the youth in this stake look forward to all year. It takes a ton of planning, praying, and courage to try things that have never been done before.
Each conference starts with the youth planning committee. “We really wanted the youth to have a positive experience in sharing the gospel,” says McKenna F., 17, one of the young women on the committee.
Specifically, they hoped to provide a positive experience for those young men and young women who didn’t think they had the confidence to share the gospel with others. “We wanted to give them a taste that it really is doable,” McKenna explains.
One thing the youth committee didn’t want was 100 doors slammed in their faces. They didn’t want to spend the hour trying to find families to visit.
So they had the adults throughout the stake ask friends and neighbors if they would allow the youth to come share a testimony about Christ. In the end, 115 families accepted the invitation.
As part of preparation, full-time missionaries and other leaders provided tips and advice to the youth during the conference so that when they talked to others, they could say what was in their hearts. Many of the youth were still nervous, but they headed out anyway.
The next hour would prove to be the favorite of the entire two-day conference, hands down.
Luke E., 17, and his younger companion approached the home of their assigned family to visit. A small cross hung on the front door. “With that cross on the door, I knew they were probably a pretty faithful family,” Luke says.
Inside the home they had a great spiritual discussion with the family. Luke and his companion shared their testimony and thoughts based on Christ’s words in the Bible, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15).
As the conversation unfolded, the couple asked a question that Luke and his younger companion hadn’t expected.
“What is the Book of Mormon?” they asked.
The adult leaders in the room remained silent in order to allow the youth to answer.
“I took this one,” Luke says. In a few minutes he explained the meaning of the title and subtitle (“Another Testament of Jesus Christ”) of the Book of Mormon, as well as a basic overview of the contents inside. He shared with them how Jesus visited and taught other nations after His Resurrection. Luke also bore testimony of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and left them a copy.
When Luke finished answering the question, the couple was touched. They thanked everyone for coming and said, “We are grateful for young people in the world who believe something so passionately.”
For Luke, the experience was a huge boost in confidence for sharing the gospel.
“Sometimes in high school you clam up and stay quiet about spiritual things, and then you lose your confidence,” Luke says. “That day was very strengthening for me as a young man preparing to serve a mission.”
Tristan S., 17, served on the planning committee and was excited about the whole conference. But even with all that energy, he still felt a little unsure about the actual teaching experience.
“I was nervous,” Tristan says. For one thing, part of the goal with each visit was to stay and talk for at least 15 minutes. In other words, no showing up, sharing a scripture or two, and leaving within a few minutes. Sometimes 15 minutes can feel pretty long.
Tristan went with a younger companion to the home of a single man in his 30s. “We shared scriptures from Matthew about how Jesus Christ brings peace in our life,” Tristan says.
The man they were visiting added to the conversation right away as he shared his own insights and experiences. They sailed right past the 15-minute mark without noticing. By the time they reached 45 minutes, the man told them, “There’s something different about you guys.”
Tristan and his companion gave the man a card directing him to mormon.org, which he accepted gladly.
“It was an amazing experience,” Tristan says. “It’s something I’ll never forget.”
Lindsey J., 17, and her companion for the day visited a woman who’s been investigating the Church for three years. Her husband was not investigating.
The conversation with the wife was going well when, after a few minutes, her husband decided to enter the room and join in. “They were a very talkative family,” Lindsey says.
As they continued to visit, Lindsey felt a strong prompting. “Usually I’m not the kind of person to ask somebody something so direct,” she explains, “but I felt like I should ask the husband if he would be interested in going to church.”
So she did.
To Lindsey’s surprise, the husband answered that, yes, he’d like to attend even though he wouldn’t make any promises. Two Sundays later, both husband and wife came to church together. They’ve been attending ever since.
Lindsey has most enjoyed getting to know the couple better and better. “I say ‘Hi’ to them all the time,” she says. They’ve become close friends. Lindsey even brought flowers on Mother’s Day because the woman doesn’t have children of her own.
Ever since the youth conference, Lindsey has chatted with many other youth about their experiences. With each conversation, it became clearer just how much everybody enjoyed sharing testimonies about the Savior.
“A lot of the youth said that this was the best weekend of their lives,” Lindsey explains.
That one short hour of teaching was just the beginning. Some families began meeting with full-time missionaries afterward. Others attended a Church meeting for the first time, prayed, or started reading scriptures.
As for the youth who participated, they’ll never forget the experience. They also gained confidence in sharing their beliefs with others. “A lot of youth were really nervous about this,” says Kyle O. “But going out to share increased their confidence. They realized it really wasn’t that hard to open your mouth and share the gospel, to share the love of Christ.”
It just goes to show that you don’t have to be afraid to shoot for the moon when it comes to setting goals.
You might just get there.