How marvelous it is to participate in general conference this month.
Our great hope is that members will gather together in their chapels, or if they have adequate internet access perhaps in their homes, and watch and listen to our prophets, seers and revelators share what the Lord would have us know.
We have a daughter who gathers her young children together and literally sets up a tent inside their house facing the computer screen where they will watch conference. They all crawl into their little tent with pens and crayons to take notes and learn together. This is what happened as the aging and ailing King Benjamin gathered his people together to declare the word of the Lord to them and each family pitched their tents with the door facing the temple from which King Benjamin would speak to them.
We do not ask our members to set up tents but have ensured within the past year that every stake center in our Area (and selected additional meetinghouses where transportation is difficult) has satellite access. Now we can all gather together in our congregations and in a most remarkable way watch and hear the words of our living prophets within days of when they speak. The Lord has declared that “whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants it is the same.” I testify that what we hear in general conference is vital for us in our time and will bless each of us. The brethren and sisters who speak in general conference diligently seek to know the will of the Lord through earnest prayer, fasting and study. They spend countless hours and many sleepless nights seeking to know and understand the message the Lord wants them to give.
President Harold B Lee taught: “The only safety we have as members of this church is to … give heed to the words and commandments that the Lord shall give through His prophet. There will be some things that take patience and faith. You may not like what comes from the authority of the Church. It may contradict your [personal] views. It may contradict your social views. It may interfere with some of your social life. But if you listen to these things, as if from the mouth of the Lord Himself, with patience and faith, the promise is that ‘the gates of hell shall not prevail against you; … and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before you.”
I marveled last April conference at the brief but powerful message of our beloved President Monson. He warned us that we could no longer rely on the testimonies of others and then boldly and simply invited each of us to read and ponder the Book of Mormon daily. He also promised us that as we do so we will hear the voice of the Spirit, resist temptation, overcome doubt and fear, and receive heaven’s help in our lives. As I write this message I do not know what we will hear this October conference but I do know that we will hear the word of the Lord and we will feel the Spirit of the Lord teaching and testifying to us of truth.
Every six months, I go to general conference with the following question and plea in my mind and heart: “How do I need to repent and change and please help me recognize those things I need to improve on”. Without fail this question is answered if I listen with a humble and teachable heart. I have come to love the scripture: “For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth.” Elder Hales teaches that “In general conferences we can receive the word of the Lord meant just for us” and that “the greatest blessings of general conference come to us after the conference is over. Remember the pattern recorded frequently in scripture: we gather to hear the words of the Lord, and we return to our homes to live them.”
We invite you in the months to come to read again and again the messages received in this general conference. Ponder these messages and look for how they apply in your life. Share them with friends not of our faith and those you are helping to return to activity. Especially counsel together in your families about the inspired messages and how they can bless you and your loved ones.
In the Africa Southeast Area the Conference editions of the Liahona are provided without cost for families and individuals in the area. They are distributed through the wards and branches. Additionally, the conference messages can be watched, listened to or read on lds.org. We have our own website for the Area which is found at africase.lds.org and includes wonderful local testimonies and follow up from general conference. Conference messages will be used for months to come in lessons and talks in our Sabbath meetings. We are making great effort to see that the words of living prophets will be available to all our members and we promise that they will bless each of us as we include these messages in our lives.
I testify of living prophets and apostles and that Jesus Christ directs and leads His church through them. How I love general conference and the outpouring of the Spirit which always comes. I thrill to see the extraordinary efforts made by our members to come and see the Apostles whenever they visit our Area and to then hear the Apostles themselves share how touched they are by the faith of the wonderful African Saints they meet. But these visits are rare and how thankful we are that in this day the words of those we sustain as prophets, seers and revelators can be heard and read by all right here in Africa. May we heed their warning voices and may we strengthen our faith in Jesus Christ as we do so.
Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee (2000), 84–85
April 2017 General Conference, President Thomas S. Monson