This week, it has really hit me how urgent this work is. God really is hastening His work. We are gearing up for about 50-75 new missionaries come January. What an amazing work this is! I feel the urgency inside of me, my spirit is trying to sprint to the finish, it is all I can do to keep up the best I can. There is just so much work to be done.
I can see how hard both forces are working in this world. It has been so evident this week how hard Satan is working to confuse, distract, and lead away the children of God. Many of our investigators have testified of the truth, yet they refuse to live the gospel. It has broken my heart. There comes a point when they have to choose — choose to follow God, or choose to turn away, to step back into the world they came from. A world of chaos, distraction, and loneliness. The hardest moments on my mission have been the times when I look at one of my investigators, someone I have come to love with all my heart, and they look me back in the eye and tell me they do not want the gospel in their lives.
It is devastating. But the work will move on.
I have noticed on the streets, the world is getting harder, tougher, and more calloused. People we talk to on the street laugh and make fun of us. Some are kind, but refuse to believe that they have to live the gospel of Jesus Christ to return to live with God. They think that they can do it on their own. We are getting to the point where I feel like we are trudging through mud, trying hard as we might to find those that are prepared. Despite the difficulty, the work will move on.
I have had many experiences this week, but I would like to share with you an experience from the Mormon Battalion Historic Site I had while I was on shift.
November 3, 2012
I was finishing up a tour in gold panning, and a middle-aged gentleman walked up, looking around like he had just walked up to the historic site. I excused myself from the family I was helping and welcomed him to the Battalion and to Old Town.
We talked for a minute and I asked if I could show him how to pan for gold. He agreed and we started panning. Over the past few weeks, I have had a few experiences talking with people at the Battalion or at the temple where a peace comes over my heart, and I am certain that they are a child of God that specifically has been guided at that time and at that moment to be healed by the message of the Restored Gospel.
As I talked to him, I had that peace come over my heart.
I looked at him and could feel the burden on his heart. I could see it in the sadness and darkness of his eyes. I hear it in the tone of his voice. I just told him that I could tell he had a burden on his heart, and wondered if he wanted to talk about it.
He told me that he just didn’t like where he was at this point in his life.
"I just go out on the weekends and drink, and party, and I don’t even know why I do it. I suppose because I am bored and I don’t know what else to do. I just want to change"
I testified of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and the power it has to lift his burdens, to comfort his heart, and that through the gift of the Atonement, he had the power to change. We walked into the resource room and looked at the display of the Book of Mormon and of the Bible. How amazing it was to me to be able to testify of the Old and New Testament, and Another Testament of Jesus Christ. The books that contain the Gospel, the way to find peace and joy in this life.
He looked at them for a while and then looked up at me with his sad eyes and told met that ' I just feel like I have calluses on my heart. I just can’t feel anymore."
I asked him if he had ever felt the Spirit before. He said, "Once. When I was a young boy, I felt that I should go back to church. I knew God was speaking to me and I didn’t do it."
We slowly walked to the lobby and sat on the couch. I testified that the missionaries could teach him how to get rid of the calluses on his heart and help him start over, completely change. I felt the Holy Ghost remind me of my missionary purpose — To invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the Restored Gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and his Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end. How great is my calling!
I turned to him and asked him if he found that what I was teaching is true, would someone holding the priesthood authority of God baptize him. He looked at me and said, yes. He hadn’t prayed since he was little, so we went to the theater and knelt down in prayer. I prayed first and then he followed. His prayer was the most sincere prayer I have heard. I felt honored to be kneeling in a room where God's son — His little boy —was returning back to Him.
That moment will be one I never forget.
The lesson I learned through this is that, yes, things are hard, the world is bad, and Satan is loosing his chains over the whole earth. But GOD'S WORK WILL MOVE FORWARD. And we have the responsibility to be part of it.
Are you joining the fight, or are you sitting on the sidelines? With or without you, His work will continue.