The 2017 Africa SE Area Plan has as one of its key goals, “love and serve one another.” As we love and serve one another, we become like the Master whose mortal life was filled with love and service. The ultimate expression and manifestation of His love was His infinite and eternal sacrifice for all of us.
One of the best ways to show our love, not only to Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ, but also to our brothers and sisters throughout the world is to share the gospel. The gospel centers on the atonement of Jesus Christ.1 It is the good news spoken of in the scriptures.2 The gospel gives us joy and happiness, peace and comfort, direction and hope. The gospel gives us an abundant life in this life and eternal life in the world to come.3
Lehi in his sermon to his son Jacob professes just how important sharing the gospel is.
“Wherefore how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah.”4
The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “After all that has been said, the greatest and most important duty is to preach the Gospel.”5
Often when we think of sharing the gospel, we become discouraged, having feelings of guilt and fear, wondering if our efforts are good enough. Whilst a desire for improvement is good, Heavenly Father does not want us to see sharing the gospel as a burden. Rather, it should be viewed as a great blessing, an honour to be able to share with others the pearl of great price, the greatest of all the treasures we have received. Elder Dallin H Oaks has said “Sharing the gospel is not a burden but a joy. What we call ‘member missionary work’ is not a program but an attitude of love and outreach to help those around us. It is also an opportunity to witness how we feel about the restored gospel of our Saviour.”6
One thing we can all do to share the gospel is to sincerely pray and ask Heavenly Father to help us to be able to find the people that he has prepared to hear the gospel message. Recently, Elder Mark S Palmer, First counselor in the Africa South East Area Presidency invited the area seventies to do just this. I remember going home after receiving this invitation, entering my study and asking the Lord to help me to talk to someone who was ready. A short time later, I was attending a district conference in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and got into conversation with Raymond the driver who took me from the airport to the hotel I was staying at. As we spoke about the gospel, he mentioned to me that it was strange but just the day before he had met another member of our church, Ephraim Msane the Nairobi Kenya mission president and he too had helped him to feel something special as he spoke about the church. I remarked to Raymond, “don’t you think the Lord is trying to tell you something.” He agreed. I believe Raymond was prepared by the Lord to hear the gospel message and that Heavenly Father had answered my prayer to find someone ready to hear the truth.
We should remember that sharing the gospel is more than just talking about the church. Sharing the gospel is giving of ourselves to those in need. It is having faith that the Lord knows and loves all His children and that He will use us as His instruments in blessing their lives. On one occasion, my wife and I were selecting the airplane seat I would travel in to a church assignment and felt impressed to move the seat from the preselected option, to a seat towards the front of the aircraft. The next day as I boarded the plane and took my seat, I sat next to a woman who told me she was traveling to a funeral of a family member who had committed suicide. She was heartbroken. I felt thrilled at the opportunity to share with her sacred principles of the gospel that would comfort her and give her peace. It was no coincidence that in my family I too had recently lost a loved one to suicide and so was uniquely qualified to provide this comfort and direction she needed. I know the Lord sent me to comfort one of His daughters at an extremely difficult time in her life.
I invite each of us to prayerfully ask God to help us to find someone to share the gospel with. I testify that as we do so, God will answer our prayers and lead us to those ready to hear the gospel message. I testify that sharing the gospel brings great joy and is one of the best ways to love and serve others. I know that as we seek to be His servants, He will lead us to the very people that we are uniquely positioned to assist and in so doing, they and we, will find true happiness and joy.
3 Nephi 27:13-15, 20-21.
See Guide to the scriptures; Gospels
John 10:10, D&C 14:7; 2 Timothy 1:10; D&C 10:50
2 Nephi 2:8
Teachings of Presidents of the Church Joseph Smith Chapter 28: Missionary Service: A Holy Calling, a Glorious Work
Elder Dallin H Oaks Sharing the restored gospel General Conference October 2016