June 7, 1983
I am pleased that you are here. I would make one request of you during the time we are here together will you please offer prayers in your hearts for You and for me? We know that if you learn anything here tonight, it will be in large measure because of your own faith in God--that you prayed humbly, "Heavenly Father, teach me; speak to me inside while Elder Cook is speaking." One man cannot know 1200 missionaries' hearts, but the Spirit does if you will pray and tune in, he will speak to you tonight in your hearts. I bear testimony to you in the name of Jesus Christ that that will happen.
I would like to say one thing about President and Sister Christensen that I think really needs to be said. He has been, with his wife, a great mission president. This Missionary Training Center, because of his yielding his heart to the Lord in the way I've just described, has been greatly blessed. His lovely wife has done her great part that only she could do. Because of their hard work, the Missionary Training Center has greatly increased in Spirit and it will continue to do so as the new president comes. You should thank the Lord in your prayers for a great mission president, and his wife as well, because they have given many, many hours--more than any man knows--to take good care of you and the many other thousands and thousands who have come through. You ought to know that.
I would like to say a few things tonight about following the promptings--about getting revelation. About what it takes to be an excellent missionary. Not a "mais o menos" (so-so) one, as we say in Spanish, but I mean an excellent one--one about whom the Lard would be able to say, "This is my missionary, through and through." I think that is what each of you want.
Are you a little concerned about going on your mission? You ought to be because that concern will keep you humble. I have heard President Kimball say--and he has given hundreds of talks--that he is still concerned every time he stands up to speak. He is not worried about himself, but worried about being in tune with the Lord so the Lord can accomplish what ought to be done.
Some missionaries out in the mission field jokingly say once in a while, when they are feeling a little discouraged, "When is this happiest two years of my life going to be over?" They kid around this way because they are down a little bit. Have you ever had that feeling? I'm sure you have. There is nothing wrong with feeling a little discouraged once in a while, and you ought to know that. Otherwise you wouldn't know what it is like not to be discouraged. You don't want to persist in it because it is not of the Lard to remain so, but if you have been a little discouraged, a little worried, a little concerned, you ought to know that it is normal and natural. You're just like President Christensen is, and like I am, and like anyone else is. Just keep working on increasing your faith until it is almost impossible to make you discouraged.
Follow the Promptings
Let's talk about a few things that relate to the matter of following the promptings. I remember a case some years ago of a woman who, with her husband and several small children, was preparing to go to sacrament meeting. The father was nagging the wife: "How come we're late? If we don't get going, we're going to be late!" The husband kept after his wife as they drove to church, "We're going to be late!" He was hurrying to make sure that everybody got there on time.
Just as they got out of the car, and while the husband was scurrying to get the kids under control, this good wife said, "Honey, I've got to go home." He said, "What?" "I've got to go home." "Why?" "I don't know. I've ' just gotta go home. Right now." Well, he argued a bit, but she insisted that she must go home. She did so and did not return for the meetings.
The husband came home two hours later, annoyed that he had had to take care of all the children in sacrament meeting--only to find about a third of his kitchen burned down. He realized that the whole house would have burned to the ground had his wife not gone home.
How had she known? No man knew that. She just followed a feeling inside that said, "Go home, go home."
I remember hearing of a case in the pioneer days somewhere in southern Utah where there had been a long drought and many of the crops were about to die. The bishop had called the ward together and asked them to fast and pray. The saints had done so. On a particular Sunday, the bishop asked them to come together in the afternoon to offer a final prayer that the rain might come.
As one family prepared to leave home, a little five-year-old girl said, "Wait a minute, Dad, I forgot something." She ran into the house and came out with a bag.
The Saints gathered together in the church courtyard and offered prayer with all of the saints exercising their faith. Before the final "amen" raindrops began to fall, and then it came down in bucketsful. Everyone ran for the chapel. Interestingly enough, there were two people left in the courtyard--the bishop and the five-year-old girl. She opened up her bag and said, "Bishop would you like to share my umbrella?"
Would you think about that for just a moment? A five-year old girl heard that they were going to pray to the Lord with all their hearts that rain would come. As far as the history shows, she was the only one--the only one with an umbrella. That little girl had total faith that it would rain.
If you have your New Testament with you, look in Hebrews, chapter 11. I am going to quickly touch on two or three verses, explain a principle, perhaps illustrate with another example, and then I am going to try to show you how this works.
Faith, the Assurance of Things Hoped For
First of all, look at verse 1 in Hebrews, chapter 11, a great chapter on faith. The first verse says,
Now faith is the substance [Joseph Smith translated that ward as meaning the assurance] of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. [Hebrews 1:1]
Would you think about that with me for a minute! It is an assurance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen. In other words, you can't see it beforehand. You just have to believe in the feeling you are getting. Does that make sense? Now here is verse three.
Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. [Hebrews 11:3]
Do you catch that all right? In light of this scripture, if I were a missionary, I would come close to memorizing Alma, chapter 32, which teaches missionaries and everyone else, as this passage does, mare about faith. The keys to faith are there--but you will only be taught if you pray to the Lord and let him teach you, because you have to learn faith for yourself. Alma 32 tells us about the spiritual creation, the temporal creation, and the eye of faith, meaning that you create in your mind first of all, Elders and Sisters, the spiritual creation of that which you desire, and you concentrate your mind on it until it comes into reality in the real world. We will talk more about that in a minute.
The point here is that the Lord didn't make things that now exist out of something that wasn't there. There was a spiritual creation and then a temporal one, wasn't there? You were created in the preexistence, as it were, and then in temporal existence which you see now. Every idea, the exercising of faith, anything that has any value that I know of, is created first of all spiritually in the mind of man and then later, because of his exceeding great faith, he brings it about temporally -- he literally causes it to happen.
Listen for a minute to verse four. Some wonder why Abel offered a better sacrifice than Cain. No answer to this? Interestingly enough, the Lard says he obtained the "witness that he was righteous" (Hebrews 11:4). That is an interesting thought, isn't it?
Look at verse five. Enoch tells of great things. He was translated, a man of great faith, but then it says, "before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God-" First the spiritual and then the temporal.
One more. Here is Noah. Noah was moved, the scripture says, with fear, and prepared an ark. He didn't know for sure it was going to rain, did he? He had the feelings, the impressions. He was pretty sure the Lord had told him. He went and did and then later the rain came, in that order.
Abraham was told to move. He didn't know where to go. He went and did what he felt he should do and then later the Lord brought about great miracles by the man.
You know, in the world if you ask managers and administrators to list the qualifications that make good leaders, they say, "Well, to be a good leader You've got to: 1) plan, 2) organize, 3) delegate, 4) understand finances, and 5) have great skill in human relations." That is their answer for the qualifications of a leader. Does the Lord emphasize that? No, he doesn't. Those are good things, true, and we want to develop them. But the Lord has a different answer to the question, and you know the answer because you've probably memorized it. D&C 4 says,
And faith, hope, charity, and love, with an eye single to the glory of God, qualify him for the work. [D&C 4:5; emphasis added]
Let me repeat that. How do you get qualified for this work? Faith hope, charity, and love, with an eye single to the glory of God, giving Him all your heart. I like to add two more words. Another passage in D&C 12:8 says,
And no one can assist in this work except he be humble . . . [Emphasis added]
Add the word humble to your list. Then the passage goes on to say,
. . . full of love, having faith, hope, and charity, being temperate in all things, whatsoever shall be entrusted to his care. [Emphasis added]
Now I would like to emphasize those six words--love, faith, hope, charity, humility and temperance. There are other key words, but remember that if you want to be a better leader increase in those six things.
Now someone might say, "Well, Elder Cook, I would really like to have more faith." How many of you would like mare faith? (All raised their hands.) But how many of you, when you prayed this morning, prayed for more faith? (About twenty percent raised their hands.) That is interesting, isn't it? What happened to the other eighty percent? I guess the Lord would say, "Do you really want more faith, or do you just say you do?" That is an interesting question, isn't it? Because if you really want it, you've got to persist. You have to pray that the Lord will increase it for you every moment.
How do you learn about these six qualities? The formula that I understand is to learn all that the scriptures show about these things. I would study them and then I would pray about them and ask "How do get more hope? If I just had more hope, I wouldn't be so discouraged. How do I really learn to extend my love? What does it mean to say the pure love or Christ? How do I transmit that love to an investigator?" That is what you are trying to do, isn't it? I am convinced that the major responsibility of a missionary is probably this one.
Primary Responsibility of the Missionary
What is it you are doing out there? Giving the discussions, yes, but that is rather secondary. Speaking the language, yes, but secondary. What are you doing? I think the answer is that your major responsibility is to give the investigator a spiritual experience. To the degree you know how to do that, to the degree you have developed in such a way that when you touch someone, when you look him in the eye and bear your witness, it humbles his heart--to that degree you are practicing what you are preaching. Then when the power goes from you right into his heart he says, "I believe. I will do whatever you tell me to do because I know you follow the Lord. " Then he knows you are the Lord's servant. When the investigator knows that, he will do anything that you tell him to do. And the reason investigators sometimes have a hard time is that the messenger is not giving the message clearly enough so he knows that you are following the Lord.
I would like to ask four elders to come up here to help me. I promise that whomever comes will not be embarrassed and you will learn more than anyone else. I shook hands with two sisters, also, whose help I would appreciate. We are going to do some role-playing. These are faithful missionaries, and I say that because it takes a lot of faith to raise your hand and come up here, doesn't it? Now, I am going to try to show the best I can how a missionary uses those six qualifications to serve, and uses them with power until the Spirit converts the people so they have no choice but to say, "I give up, I'll repent, I'll be baptized." And I bear testimony, brothers and sisters, that if someone does that in great power it will be just like what is taught in 3 Nephi 7:18, that Nephi had so much power that, "It were not possible that they could disbelieve his words."
That is a great passage. Of course it doesn't mean that they all got baptized because there are some men who are bent upon going to hell--a few of them, not many. And because the Lord honors their agency he will let them go. But the great majority will respond if the messenger conveys the message clearly.
Let's do this for just a moment. We will assume that I'm the missionary and I'm knocking an a door. Let's assume that this is a reference given to me by a member, because that is the best way to do missionary work that has ever been found. Is that true? There is no better way to do the work than through the members.
Now I've got a reference. We typically take the member with us or have the investigator come to the member's home. That is the best way. But this member gave us so many names that this is one that Elder Cook and his companion are going to go and just visit. And I am going to ask this Elder if he will be my companion. Will you do that, Elder Benavidez? (He nods approval.) He will be my companion. Now we need a sister to come to the door. Who wants to be first? Sister Jones? (She says yes.) You be as negative as you can possibly be. Can you do that? She looks like she is really going to tell us off, Elder. We are going to knock on the door and you just be as negative as you can be.
Elder Benavidez and I, the first time, are going to be what I would call some pretty poor missionaries. We really don't know how to do this very well, and what I want you to do is jot down on your paper what you see that we did wrong. When I am finished, I am going to ask you six missionaries up here with me to tell us what we did that was wrong. When you tell us, you will represent all of these missionaries as if they had had a chance to participate.
Acting as Men Only
Here we go. This is the Jones family, and here come two missionaries with their reference from the member.
Missionary: Oh, hello, how are you, Mrs. Jones?
Investigator: I am fine.
Missionary: Good, good. We are missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day saints and we are making some visits here in the area. My name is Elder Cook and this is my companion, Elder Benavidez. We know a member of our church who lives across the street here, the Evans family. They said that you were a very good family. Do you know Mrs. Evans?
Investigator: Yes, sort of.
Missionary: Well, She feels good about you and we thought, uh, we could come over perhaps, and visit you and get to know you and your family better.
Investigator: You really came at the wrong time because I am really busy. I've got five or six things going an here and I just don't have time to talk to you. I'm not interested in your church, anyway.
Missionary: We really would like to talk to you about the gospel.
Investigator: I know all about the gospel. I go to church up here at the Presbyterian Church.
Missionary: Oh. Well, we represent the Lord and his church, and we have some lessons that we would surely like to teach to you and your husband and your family.
Investigator: Well, they're not home. See, it's a bad time. I'm here and I am doing all kinds of things. No time.
Okay, that is really a key point. She says she's alone. If she is, you shouldn't go in. But you must know now whether she is lying or telling the truth. Some of the time they are not telling the truth.
Missionary: Well, maybe we could come back another time then, Mrs. Jones.
investigator: No, I don't think so.
Missionary: Well, it was good to meet you, anyway. We will check back. If we are in the area sometime, we might drop by just to meet your husband, if that is all right.
Investigator: No, he is never home.
Missionary: Oh. Okay. Well, thanks anyway. It was good to talk to you. Good-bye.
How did the missionaries do? Pretty poorly. And yet, brothers and sisters, and I say this with all due respect to you, that might very well be a fairly typical approach for many missionaries. They said who they were, they talked to the lady, they understood that they were supposed to counter her objections. We did try and we still walked away with absolutely nothing. Now, let's have you help me. What did we do wrong? (Responses.)
- We didn't try hard. We were negative.
- We could have tried to add to the truth she had as a Presbyterian, something like that maybe. We didn't tell her much about the church, just about ourselves.
- We weren't very confident. Could you feel that, Sister Jones? Do you think that is going to influence the investigators? Sure it is--negatively.
- There was very little spirit. In fact, I'll ask Sister Jones--did you feel very much faith from Elder Cook? (No.) Interesting, isn't it? Very little. Did you feel any hope? (Not much.) we were already pretty sure you weren't going to let us in because the last ten didn't either, and everybody is hard-hearted in this area. They won't let the missionaries talk to them anyway.
Now, if you have that attitude, it will transmit itself immediately to the people and you will bring about a self-fulfilling prophecy. She didn't really feel our happiness, our willingness and enthusiasm to convince her we were the Lord's servants. Maybe we could say, "We tried, we did the best we knew how, and it just kind of flopped." Yes, but one has to be a challenging and testifying missionary and we weren't either, were we?
Sister Jones, did you feel a lot of love or charity in us? (Almost none.) Did you feel any humility? (NO, I felt that you were scared.) we really were. I am paraphrasing Joseph Smith here, but he said:
Doubt and fear will never exist in the mind of man at the same time alongside of faith. It is impossible. One or the other will leave. Faith, or doubt and fear.
She felt it in us. We were scared. We were full of doubts, we didn't know how to do it and so it didn't work. After such an experience the missionary may walk away from the door and say to his companion, "Boy, these are a hard-hearted bunch." And who is probably really hard-hearted, Elder? Who is most likely the real problem? The missionary. It's the missionary, because if he is going to convert them and start the process he has got to exercise the Spirit over them so they feel that in him.
Now let's try it again. We are going to try to do it as powerful missionaries, with the spirit of the Lord. I would say to you that the most important thing I know about what we are talking about sure knowledge that no matter how inadequate the missionary, no matter how weak, he will receive help if he will pour his heart out to the Lord in prayer for everyone of those investigators before he goes to the door--even while he is walking up to the door.
While he is nervous and speaking, his companion should be praying with all of his heart, "Heavenly Father, help us to discern her heart. What shall we say?" If it starts to falter, Elder Cook should be praying, "Heavenly Father, this isn't going too well. What should we do? Help us, please help us." I bear witness there has not been a single sincere prayer like that ever offered from the beginning of man that God did not answer. Not one. If you will do it in the sincerity of your heart, He will teach you how to be a great missionary. Oh, you will learn from your zone leaders and from your mission president, but He will do it--and when He teaches you, you will know for yourself and your faith and hope and courage will grow.
Elder, would one of you come up and help me? (Missionary approaches Elder Cook.) What else did Elder Cook do that wasn't good? There was no smile. There was no spark. There was no enthusiasm. There was no handshake. There was no looking in the eyes, was there? You know, the world talks about those things as techniques, but the truth of it is these social behaviors are manifestations of inner feelings. What do you think a handshake really is? It's a gesture of love, isn't it? You can't greet a sister and show affection inappropriately so you've got to have another way to transmit that love so she can feel it in you.
Now, this is the way some missionaries shake hands. You will not want to do it this way. "Hi, Elder Helvey. How are you doing?" (Quickly shakes hands unthinkingly.) Does that mean anything? No, not at all. Some missionaries are a little better than that and they will say, "Hello, Elder Helvey. How are you today?" (A little better but only a handshake.) Is that how most of us do it? Probably about like that.
But what would happen if while you were shaking his hand, you were praying in your heart, "Heavenly Father, deliver up his heart to me." If you are praying and looking him in the eyes and shaking hands in that very moment, I bear witness to you in the name of the Lord that the Spirit will transmit from one man to the other. He will humble his heart in your presence, and he will feel in his heart that you are a servant of the Lord.
For example, what if you were to do it this way? "Hello, Elder Helvy. I am Elder Cook. It is a privilege to come to know you a little better" (praying and transmitting love and the Spirit, looking him in the eyes). Do you feel anything, Elder? (Yes.) It is not a trick. If this missionary is humbly praying, "Heavenly Father, When I take this fellow's hand and I look him in the eye, let Thy spirit course through me and into him so he feels it in his heart," he will feel it. You're halfway there if you just do that alone. Are we looking into his eyes as some kind of super technique? No. We are looking into those eyes to transmit by the power of the Lord right into his soul that we are servants of the Lord. You can feel that, can't you, Elder? (Elder really feeling the spirit of the transmission responds with, I sure can). It burns in and it will do the same to any man. I don't care how hard his heart is. Thanks, Elder.
Acting as a Servant of the Lord
Sister Jones, we are going to do it again. We are going to try this time to do it a little differently. Now, you saw me grab the elder by the arm. Would you do that with a sister? You wouldn't, would you? No. So you've got to transmit just as much without that. Fortunately, most of the sisters of the world are more softhearted than the brethren, I think, and you can do just as well. So we are going to do it again and I want you to observe some things that are going on this time that are very different fran the last time.
This companion and I know that the place to preach the gospel is not at the door. If you don't know that, write it down. You do as little of that as you can at the door. Where do you want to teach them? In the house. So what is our objective? To get in the door. Because if we don't get in the door, the approach is probably all over. We must get in.
I am going to assume, Sister Jones, that your husband is there this time. Now there is one other thing that is very different this time and it is this (directing self to his companion):
Missionary: Well, Elder Benavidez, Brother and Sister Smith, who gave us is reference about the Jones family, say that there are three children, a husband, and a lovely wife. They feel really well about their spirit and I knew as we prayed this morning before we left to visit them that the Lord would bless us. I guess I would just remind us both as we are heading for that home now to be praying with all of our hearts that the Lord would soften their hearts so that they will feel the spirit of the Lord in two of his servants. I know, companion, that if we will pour our hearts out to the Lord, and while I'm doing the speaking you keep praying, the Lord will let us in.
Do you have any doubt whatsoever that we are going in that home? (Companion answers no.) We're going in. Now, isn't that very different? I am preparing my companion in faith. We have already decided.
Missionary: Short of the woman being alone, or the Lord giving us an impression at the 1ast moment that we ought not, we are going in. I'm sure of that. It doesn't even matter what she thinks about it, because we, this time, will represent the Lord and that's different. Keep praying, companion, here's the door.
Missionary: Hello, Mrs. Jones? I'm Elder Cook from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It's a privilege to meet you. This is my companion, Elder Benavidez.
Investigator: Nice to meet you.
Missionary: I suppose your husband is home isn't he [affirming it by nodding the head]?
Investigator: Yes he is.
Missionary: Good. Could we come in a moment [nodding the head]?
Investigator: Well, we are kind of busy.
Missionary: Well, that's all right, we promise just to take a couple of minutes. May we come in [walking towards the door and entering]?
Now, remember one thing. Remember that if the investigator ever offended, you didn't do it right. I mean that. If they think, "Boy, these guys are pushy; I wish they would get out of my house," you did it wrong because the Spirit won't offend them.
Notice that we didn't say, "Is it all right if we come in, Mrs. Jones?" Did we say that? No, we didn't. What did we say? "Well, may we come in?" Remember that we are talking about number one on our list for just a moment--faith. Let me offer you three practical suggestions about exercising faith.
Three Elements in Seeking Faith
1. You first of all must have the spiritual creation in your own heart. For example, I see her in her white baptismal clothes. Is she going to convince me that she is not going to be baptized? She hasn't even heard the word yet. In other words, I believe with all my heart as I feel her spirit right off, "We are going to baptize you, sister Jones. I'm not telling you that yet, but you may as well give up and repent right now, because we are going to. "If I feel that good spirit in her, and my companion does as well, we will baptize her.
So your first consideration is what you really believe in your heart. Do you believe she won't be baptized? You're right. Do you believe she will be? If you exercise your faith, brother and sisters, along with a couple of other things, she will be.
2. Your second consideration, which you have seen illustrated, is the wording you use. The Lord says in one passage, "Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not" (D&C 6:36). If we are praying with all of our hearts, if we are using the positive words that are full of faith, guess what impact that has on her when she speaks back to us? She'll also speak words full of faith.
We didn't say, "Is it all right if we come in?" That's pretty negative, isn't it? Did you notice something else? Did I say, "Is your husband home?" Did I say that? No, I didn't. I said, "I assume your husband is home, isn't he, Sister Jones [nodding, affirming]? Good, may we come in a moment, then? Thank you." Did you see that? It's not, "Is your husband home?" because that is negative. It shows doubt and you're giving her a chance to lie--and in many of the countries where you are going they will do just that.
3. Joseph Smith said that "faith is the moving cause of all action." Faith is action, not just words. I say (nodding my head), "I assume your husband is home, isn't he?" Yes, I assume he is, and then follows the action: "May we come in, please? [moving towards the door]. Thank you."
Think about this question very carefully. If the Savior were at the door, and she said, "I'm sorry, we're too busy," would he walk away? He would not, because his love runs so deep for that woman that he would do anything in his power to convince her of who he was and what he was doing there.
What I am trying to describe is found in many passages that we don't have time to talk about, that is, speaking in the name of the Lord. That's what we are trying to show. Flow do you speak in the name of the Lord? How do you be a servant of the Lord acting with authority? Doctrine and Covenants 68:8 says that you are to go forth and act in authority, to not be afraid of the world. Did the Lord send us? Yes or no? He surely did. Then act the part. That is the key--act the part.
Sister Jones, why don't you resist us quite a bit? We will do the same thing. You tell us your husband is home, but just resist us. Do whatever you want, because it really doesn't matter, does it, companion? (Because now we're three, with the Lord involved.)
Missionary: Hello, Mrs. Jones. I am Elder Cook of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Pleased to meet you.
Remember what is going on now; you are not just shaking hands. You are not just looking into her eyes. What are you doing? You are praying, "Heavenly Father, I just have a minute to shake her hand. I feel a very good soul."
Missionary: This is my companion, Elder Benavidez.
Missionary: How are you, Mrs. Jones? I suppose your husband is home, isn't he? Can we come in a moment?
Investigator: Well, no. He is not dressed.
Missionary: Oh, he isn't? Well, okay, that's all right. I suppose he is in the process of getting dressed. We will just wait in the living room a minute, if that's okay.
Investigator: Well, it's going to be a while. He is kind of busy.
Missionary: Okay, well, listen, we will wait a minute, then. We would really like to talk to him, Sister Jones, because the Lord sent us here to your door today and we have a special message that will be of great interest to your husband. So we will just wait here a second, if that's okay. Do you just want to tell him that we are here? Maybe you could just tell him so he will know we're here.
Investigator: Well, see, we are on a really tight schedule. He's got somewhere to go as soon as he is through with what he is doing, and so he really doesn't have that much time to listen.
Would the Savior give up right now? No, nor will we.
Missionary: Sister Jones, I suppose he has an appointment and is getting dressed to go out. We promise not to take but a moment. We just would like to greet him. Why don't you go tell him we're here? Would you, please?
Investigator: Yeah, I guess I can.
Now brothers and sisters, one other thing. Alma taught about the eye of faith in Alma 32, where he says that you are to look forward to the object of your faith. What is it we want? Baptism. What is it we want at the door right now? We want to get in. So where are we going to look in that crucial moment? Into her eyes? No! And if you noticed, both times we said "May we come in?" we looked toward the door (looking forward to the fruit desired), because it is very difficult to withstand that kind of faith. She has to be very, very hard-hearted to stop us.
Or for example, when we say, "Well, now Brother Jones, we would like to have a concluding prayer, and of course we do that kneeling," where do I look--in his eyes or to the floor? Do I do it this way? "Brother Jones, we would like to have a kneeling prayer [looking in his eyes]. Is that all right with you?" That's negative, full of doubt, and the response will be, "No, not today."
And then the battle starts--and whose fault is that? The missionary's. The eye of faith is, as you are praying, "Heavenly Father, we are approaching a critical moment--that is, he must kneel with us. Now I am going to do this the best I can, Heavenly Father, and use the best words I know, but help me to have the faith that he will do it."
Remember the three suggestions we have just discussed:
1) I am going to create spiritually in my mind the fact he will kneel with me.
2) The wards are going to be full of faith.
3) My actions will be a reflection of my faith.
So again I would say, "It is our custom to have a kneeling prayer, as you know, Brother Jones, and we would be delighted to have that with you now." (The missionary looks to the floor and commences to kneel assuming in full faith the investigator will also kneel.) And he will always kneel. It is a matter of the missionary and the spirit of the Lord with the missionary.
Now, I am going to illustrate two or three more things very quickly. Remember what it is we are trying to illustrate.
Elder Cook: Sister Jones, be totally honest, could you feel faith in us this time?
Elder Cook: Pretty strong?
Sister: Very strong.
Elder Cook: Could you feel hope?
Elder Cook: How about charity, the pure love of Christ? When I say the pure love of Christ, can you tell me how you felt as you thought about what we did to you?
Sister: The handshake was warm, you had a smile on your face, and you looked at me with a happy face.
Elder Cook: It is something that transmits that is not in the words, isn't it. Could you feel any love we had for you?
It transmits, doesn't it? And when the investigator feels it, he will respond. And the reason most don't is that they are not feeling it. They respond to those things because there is something they saw firsthand in the preexistence in God. They saw it, they felt it, they know what it is. And when they feel it in you, they will respond. They will respond, and you will work for your whole mission and all of your life to learn how to do that.
Now let's discuss the word temperance. Other words for it would be moderation or discipline. Would this be moderation?
Missionary: Hello, Sister Jones. How are you doing? It's good to visit with you [addressing her at some distance].
Is that moderation? Too far away. Can you influence her that far away? Pretty hard. What about this?
Missionary: Hello, Sister Jones. It is sure good to be with you [speaking to her right in her face].
Not so, and the Spirit will be offended. You've got to be careful. Temperance is good judgment and being guided by the Spirit. In just the same way, one is not temperate or moderate who is overbold and offends, nor is one moderate who timidly approaches a door and, encountering some resistance, sheepishly walks away. The Savior would not, nor should you.
Let's take another couple of quick examples. What if someone says to you, "Look, I don't want anything to do with Mormonism." You have already talked to him, but he is pretty hard-hearted and really rejects you. Suppose he says, "We don't want anything to do with Mormonism. I don't care about religion. Let me out of here." Or, "I'm an atheist. Just go away and leave me alone. My football game is playing and they're on the one-yard line. Will you just go, please?"
You reply, ""Well, Brother Simmons, we will because you are the head of this home [withdrawing]. But may I tell you just one thing before we go? Just one thing [now moving closer to the investigator]." Now do you see the actions again?
Brother Simmons, I wasn't going to tell you this, but maybe I should. Before my companion and I knocked on your door, you ought to know that we had a prayer to the Lord about Brother and Sister Simmons. We prayed with all our hearts that your heart would be softened, that you would listen to the message that we've brought to you from the Lord. We would very much like to deliver it. May we come in a moment [moving towards the door].
Now again, you see the difference. Be sure not to interpret that as a mere procedure. It isn' t. But if it is not in your heart that the Lord really has sent you and your companion and you are servants of the Lord, they will not believe because it will not transmit. Okay, let's look at one more illustration that is essential for baptizing "thousands."
Investigators in Church
Before we begin the role-play I'll tell you this one specific. If you would like to double your baptisms wherever you are--if I had to put into one sentence something you could do in addition to all I've said about the Spirit it would be this one thing--double immediately the number of people you have in church each week. If you will double that number, you will automatically double your baptisms. If you double the number of hours worked, you may or may not. But if you will double the number of people you take to that church building in the right spirit each week, you will double your baptisms immediately.
Suppose that my companion and I committed this week to have ten investigators in church. We only had eight--the members brought five and we brought three. We don't go sit in the back row now and enjoy the meeting. We've got our investigators in the hands of the members. My companion and I have prayed inside the building, "Heavenly Father, we lack two more and the meeting is about to start. Please help us." President Kimball said we should use the chapels for their maximum proselyting benefit. So we are going to bring a couple in right off the street to see the LDS chapel--because we are going to have ten investigators, not eight.
Here we are out on the street. We have been praying together again, "Heavenly Father, we would really like to have two more." Here comes a pretty young lady about sixteen. Would we invite her in, Elders? Probably not; we will let the sisters invite her in. She might misunderstand. Here comes a man who is not dressed too well--pretty shabbily dressed. Maybe we shouldn't ask him because he might be embarrassed in the meeting when he sees everyone dressed in their Sunday best. "Heavenly Father, the meeting is about to start. Who could it be?" Here come a nice looking couple walking along the sidewalk in front of the chapel.
Missionary: Hello, folks, how are you? I'm Elder Cook of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Investigator: I'm Mr. Jesse, and this is Mrs. Jesse.
Missionary: I'm glad to meet you. I'm Elder Cook and this is my companion, Elder Clark. Mr. Jesse, may I ask you a question?
Missionary: Do you know what this is over here [pointing to the chapel]?
Investigator: It looks like a church.
Missionary: It is. In fact, it is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Have you ever been in one of those buildings?
Investigator: I can't say I have.
Missionary: In your whole life?
Missionary: Come on in. I would like to show you something [moving wards the chapel door].
I'd say that half of the people would come in on that alone. Let's assume he resists. Let him say what he wants because is he going to go in anyway. He is, unless I receive an inspiration that I ought not to continue.
Investigator: Oh, no, we don't have time right now.
Missionary: Oh, you have another appointment?
Investigator: Yes, we've got to go over to some friends near the park.
Missionary: You're going down here to the park. Let's see, it's about 8:30 right now, and you need to be down there 8:45 or 9:00?
See--the words of faith.
Missionary: Well, we promise not to take more than ten minutes. Come on in a minute [moving toward the door].
I would say that another 20 or 30 percent would go in with that alone. Let's assume we are in the chapel for just a moment with the investigator. Let's assume, to make it harder, that no meetings are going on. We would say to him, "You know, we promised ten minutes, and we are going to keep our word." If you don't, the Holy Ghost will leave you. If you deal in semi-truths or in door approaches in words that are semi-true, the Holy Ghost will leave you alone. You have got to speak the truth at all times. When ten minutes have passed, I'm going to be saying, "Brother Jesse, you know you mentioned ten minutes, and it has been that. We are men of our word; if you need to go now, that's fine with us. If you have a few more minutes, though, we would like to show you one more thing."
If you have called down the Spirit upon them, they will be glad to say, "Well, no, that was all right. Show us a little bit more." If they really honestly had a commitment, then you had best honor it. Get their address and go visit them at their home.
Now assume that we are in the building an a Tuesday and there is no meeting going on. The Elders have not forgotten to pray because their objective is to soften these people's hearts.
Missionary: You know, Brother and Sister Jesse, what do you think this is [looking at the pulpit]?
Investigator: It looks like where the preacher talks to everyone.
Missionary: Exactly, Brother Jesse. It is. You know you mentioned you have our children, right?
Missionary: Later on that oldest one, who is 15, when you folks become members--when you have a chance to be members, John will have a chance to speak right at this podium, because one of the things we teach the youth to do is to speak.
Investigator: That's wonderful.
I would say, Elders and Sisters, that most will react positively to the affirmation about becoming members, a few others might be a little bit turned off and say, "What do you mean, when I'm going to be a Mormon?"
You might say, "Well, you have to prepare yourself for that first, you know. You couldn't be baptized now even if you wanted to." (A sense of relief will come over them.) "But I testify these things are true and you'll come to also know it.
Is that true? Sure it is. If you say something that is not true, the Holy Ghost won't confirm it. But when you speak for the Lord, then that will happen. Now we have gone around the tour and we are into a small room--just a regular typical room in the building, okay?
Missionary: Well, Bother and Sister Jesse, what do you think this is?
Investigator: It looks like a small room.
Missionary: It is, but it's a very special small room.
Investigator: Well, what do you do in here?
Missionary: Well, thanks for asking me that question.
Do you see what's happening again? Who's leading? The missionary. Do you see that again? I'll do it one more time.
Missionary: You know, this is a very special room.
Investigator: Well, what do you do in here?
Missionary: This is where the Relief Society meets.
Investigator: Relief Society? What's that? [says the wife].
See how we're drawing her out now to get her involved? I could have immediately said, "This is the Relief Society--this is what we do." But now she's asking. That's the time to plant the seeds of faith.
Missionary: When you get to be a member of the Relief Society later on, of course, as a member, Sister Jesse, this is where they'll teach wives how to love their husbands more. What do you think of that, Brother Jesse?
Investigator: That sounds good.
Missionary: This is where spiritual training for women occurs. Training also in cooking, sewing, homemaking, etc.
And then you would give her a short one or two-minute statement and than your testimony. We are now at the last step on the tour--the baptismal font.
Missionary: Well, what do you think this is, Brother and Sister Jesse?
Investigator: It looks like a big bathtub.
Missionary: Well, it is in a way.
Some missionaries might say, "Bathtub? Oh, it's not a bathtub [offensively putting the investigator downl." And there goes the Spirit, doesn't it? So negative. She didn't say it very well, but why not turn it around in Faith and say:
Missionary: Well, you know, it is kind of a bathtub in a way. It's where one cleanses his sins in the baptismal font when they are baptized. Now, Brother and Sister Jesse, when you get baptized later--and of course, you couldn't yet because you are not yet prepared, but I mean later, Brother Jesse, you will come down those stairs dressed in white which signifies purity."
What's Elder Cook doing? Creating in his mind that spiritual creation that Alma talked about--that is, planting faith in his heart. If Brother Jesse will nourish the word now, with the prayers and scriptures which Elder Cook will give him, he's going to become a first-class investigator and then a member.
Missionary: And then, Sister Jesse, you will be coming down this left side afterwards, dressed in a white dress again signifying purity, and you will both be baptized by the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ. And I just went to bear testimony to you that that is true.
Then I'd give a testimony, whatever I'd feel prompted to say. I may give them their first lesson right then. I may get an appointment. I may set them up with a member. The Spirit will tell you what to do. Do you think this is a different couple now than came in off the street a few minutes ago? They're very different, aren't they? Why? Because a missionary was working with the Spirit of the Lord and he assisted in changing them with the Spirit.
Line Upon Line, Precept Upon Precept
Remember this. The scriptures say that we're to teach line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little, there a little. Some missionaries don't know what we just illustrated. They'll go through the discussions and they will find themselves not having mentioned baptism once by the time they are ready to give the commitment for baptism. And they'll struggle. Do you know how scary that is? The Elder might say;
Well, Brother and Sister Jesse, we really nave something important to tell you about as we finish this lesson because you people need to be--you know-cleansed from your sins . . .
He is afraid to say baptism. He says,
You know--I mean, companion, wouldn't you like to give this part of the discussion?
Well, you know, folks, when you have a chance to learn more of the gospel, you'll get a chance to be b . . . b . . . b . . ., well, you'll get a chance to have a very sacred ordinance performed.
When he finally gets to it, he blurts out,
Wouldn't you like to be baptized [speaking quite loudly]?
scaring the investigator to death. And they receive it about that way (saying no) because the elder doesn't know the true principle of line upon line, precept upon precept.
For example, to do better in giving the lesson on the restoration, I would be making remarks like this throughout
As Joseph Smith came out from the grove, he came out with a sure knowledge of God. Later, when he was translating in the Book of Mormon, he learned that he had to be baptized. Of course, when you folks have that opportunity, that will be a great day. You know, as you read the Book of Mormon, Brother and Sister Jesse, you will see many times where it mentions that men ought to be baptized. When that day comes for you folks and you have that privilege, it will be a great moment." (The missionary could, in a similar fashion, teach the concept of baptism with respect to the visit of John the Baptist, Peter, James, and John, etc.)
And if you sow those seeds eight or ten times in that lesson, when you come down to the crisis, as it were, to set the baptismal date, they will say, "Why not? Yes." Why? Because a real missionary with great faith taught and they respond.
If you are worried, for example, that your investigator is not going to kneel down, then mention it four or five times. Pave the way with your faith before you get to the crisis. I think that is one way to illustrate what the Lord means when he talks about line upon line, precept upon precept.
Let me state once more that we're not trying to show some tricky technique. If it isn't based on faith in God, knowing that it is he who will give you the conversions, you will not be successful in what you are trying to do, You have to let people know you really love them with all your heart. I remember a man who rejected me many times, I just continued to say, "Oh Brother Bradley, I know you don't feel very well about me, but I love you anyway, and I'll not leave until you have come to know that these things I've brought to you are from God. If you don't know that, it must be my fault. I apologize for not having conveyed to you sufficiently the power of the Lord to know it." And I would get him on his knees right then and have him pray with me, because if he will do it, the Lord will speak in his heart and he will be converted.
Remember what was said about the three considerations that seem to be involved in the whole teaching process:
1) Be certain where your own heart is. (Create the spiritual creation.)
2) The words must be full of faith. You'll probably work for many years to get all of the negative words of doubt and fear out of your vocabulary. When you do, you will speak in great faith and the people will respond.
3) Three, learn how to tie actions to your words and the people can't do anything but agree, repent, and be baptized.
Faith Comes in Tribulation
We started by talking about faith. I'd like to end by telling you one other example--one in which I didn't perform too well. One time in Ecuador I was waiting at the airport to take a flight out. I went through Immigrations where they stamped my passport. I then sat down to wait to leave. Before going in to immigrations I had prayed the way you have been praying tonight. "Heavenly Father, bless me with more faith. I really want to have more. Bless me to believe beforehand. Bless me to be more sensitive to those promptings so I'll know what to do in the very moment." I really prayed quite fervently for more faith.
As I was sitting and waiting an immigrations official came over and said, "May I see your passport again?" He took it, took his pen out, and in the most terrible, cold, negative spirit I'd ever seen, said, as he crossed out the exit stamp he had just placed in my passport, "You'll not be going anywhere," and gave me the passport back.
I answered, "What do you mean I'm not going anywhere? I've been in this country a long time now, and you can look at my passport. I've been in and out of the country ten times." "I don't care," he returned. "You're not leaving." And he walked away and went back to his desk.
I could hardly believe what I'd heard. The announcer was saying, "Last call for Braniff. If you're going, pass through immigrations." I went back to his desk and tried being kind to him, "Sir, I've got 2,000 Latter-day saints waiting for me in Bolivia. They've all come together along with missionaries from all over the country."
"I don't care if you're the President of the United States. You're not leaving Ecuador." Well, then I got kind of mad inside and said, "Who's your boss?" The man next to him said, "He's the boss." A few minutes later, by persisting, I got a telephone number of the office downtown. I then began a frantic, futile effort to contact someone important enough to straighten the matter out for me. The announcement come, "Last call for Braniff." As I dialed the number, for the first time, I am sad to say, I humbled myself and poured my heart out to the Lord. "This is thy stake conference. I am trying to go. I don't know what to do. Another two or three minutes and it's all over. Please help me."
As I prayed as humbly as I could asking for assistance, I felt inside, "Hang up the phone; it's a trick. They're just wasting your time to make fun of you." I hung up and also felt an impression to walk out of there, which I did, right out of immigrations to the front door by the street. I bowed my head again and prayed, "Heavenly Father, help this missionary. I'm only trying to do that you want me to do. Help me."
When I looked up, in that very moment a uniformed man walked in off the street. He turned out to be an immigrations official. I quickly grabbed him and showed him my passport. He said, "Well, this isn't proper, what's happening?" I said, "I don't know." He said? "Come with me."
This young man followed me to the immigrations desk and said, "Jose, what's going on? Why aren't you letting this fellow go? His papers seem to be in order." The first official again said,' "I don't care who he is. He is not leaving." It was evident that the angry official was this young man's boss. Then I saw the Spirit of the Lord descend on this young man, who, I am sure at great risk to his own job, walked over quietly, grabbed the stamp, stamped my passport, and said, "Mr. Cook, if I were you, I would run." He didn't have to say that twice! I was gone--up the gangplank and the last one on. They were shutting the door when I reached the top of the stairs.
I don't know what happened to that young man. I saw the Spirit work with him, though. He may have been fired afterwards, but if he was, the Lord took care of him because he responded to the Spirit.
I was so upset that it took me nearly half an hour on that plane ride to calm down. I prayed and thanked the Lord that He had heard my prayer. And I think it's significant that when I calmed down, I repeat, when I calmed down, I heard as distinctly as I've heard anything that voice inside say to me, "Elder Cook, I thought you wanted more faith." It just burned through me. I knew I had failed in that instance, that I hadn't in the very first moment prayed for help. I had tried to wing it on my own. I had let the world upset me and not relied sufficiently upon the Lord. Missionaries never forget that. If' you do it on your own, you'll not accomplish much because this is the Lord's work.
I bear humble testimony, last of all, in the name of Jesus Christ our Master, that this is His work. This is His church. He is involved in the specifics of directing people's lives in this kingdom more than any man knows. When the veil is removed and we realize how much He really was involved, that He truly was directing events, I suspect we'll feel very humbled. I'm sure we will kneel down before Him and ask forgiveness for having been so ungrateful and not having recognized His hand in our lives.
I bear testimony that Jesus is the Christ. I bear that testimony to the whole world. We know it. We are the only people on the face of the earth who know it the way we know it. I bear witness that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, that President Spencer W. Kimball is. Keep working on your own faith and testimony and the Lord will greatly bless you and give you great success. Alma 26:22 gives four conditions to baptize thousands;
"Yea, he that repenteth and exerciseth faith, and bringeth forth good works, and prayeth continually without ceasing--unto such it is given to know the mysteries of God; yea, unto such it shall be given to reveal things which never have been revealed; yea, and it shall be given unto such to bring thousands to repentance, even as it has been given unto us to bring these our brethren to repentance" [Emphasis added].
Here are the conditions of faith which we've talked about tonight: First, repent unless your heart is in order, you'll not convert with power. If you've got some things out of order tonight, Elders and Sisters, covenant with the Lord and get it back in order. Second, exercise your faith. Third, act with good works. And fourth, pray continually without ceasing. Four great keys which will help you to baptize thousands.
May God bless you. Let your voices be heard all over the earth. May you be an example of the great core of missionaries which has gone out to bear witness to all the earth that the Lord lives. May each of you feel the Spirit in me as a special witness of Jesus Christ as I bear witness that God lives and that Jesus is the Christ.
I say last of all, if nothing happened tonight more than that you were turned closer yet to the Lord, the hour would have been well worth it. May the Lord bless you to do just that, turn to God in all things, I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.