I never served a full-time mission as a young man because of the Korean War and the restrictions placed upon the number of young men allowed to serve. In later years I was in Dental School and just learning to share the gospel and open my mouth as a young man, when I had a great learning opportunity. I was sitting by my Institute Teacher, Dale Tingey, on a plane trip from California to Utah, and asked him to show me how he started a gospel conversation with a person he has just met. He smiled and simply said, “Just watch.” I watched and noticed some major truths. He had a natural conversation with the people next to him about life, work, school, and where they were headed on their trip. Next he asked them what they wanted to do in life and what they enjoyed doing. It was a simple continuation of a normal conversation.
Since Dale’s new friends were having a layover in Salt Lake City on their way to Sun Valley Ski Resort, he asked if they had ever seen the Mormon Tabernacle and Temple Square. They hadn’t and then he shifted into high gear with an enthusiastic invitation to visit the Temple Square. He arranged for a taxi to take them. He got their contact information and pleaded with them to write him about their visit. He gave them his card and reminded them to get a copy of the Book of Mormon at Temple Square. Upon our return to California, Dale received the loveliest letter telling him of their wonderful visit, and how much they appreciated his friendship. It was the highlight of their vacation.
Success is doing the will of God whether you baptize someone or not. Abinadi had no knowledge of his convert Alma. Samuel the Lamanite simply preached repentance and then had to flee the land of the Nephites. Nephi was able to baptize his converts. Doing our best is all the Lord asks of us. Most times that will require us to open our mouths and eventually issuing an invitation for others to act concerning a gospel related activity. We are to invite. We are to offer opportunities for people to be uplifted by the Holy Spirit. We give people a chance to choose. This is a huge success in sharing the gospel. A greater joy is when they accept. Then the greatest joy is like unto Alma’s and Ammon’s, when they shared the gospel and invited those they taught to come unto Christ (see Alma 29:9-10, 14). So with faith, “Open your mouths and they shall be filled, and you shall become even as Nephi of old, who journeyed from Jerusalem in the wilderness. Yea, open your mouths and spare not, and you shall be laden with sheaves upon your backs, for lo, I am with you. Yea, open your mouths and they shall be filled, saying: Repent, repent, and prepare ye the way of the Lord, and make his paths straight; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (D&C 33:8-10; emphasis added).
As we open our mouths, we will trust in the Lord. If we have studied well and treasured up the word, we have no need to fear. “And at all times, and in all places, he shall open his mouth and declare my gospel as with the voice of a trump, both day and night. And I will give unto him strength such as is not known among men” (D&C 24:12). Remember as you open your mouth and trust in the Lord, the very things you have studied and need to say will be given you in that very moment. Brave things like, “When you read that verse you will know the Book of Mormon is true” and they did. “It’s time to be baptized” and they smiled and said, “yes.” Never doubt the Lord.
A simple thing to do: There is always a place to have a natural conversation that can lead to a missionary moment. After a short visit on a plane, in a store, at a park, on a commute, at a soccer game, at an early morning meeting, during a rushed lunch break, at an evening PTA gathering, on a business trip, family vacation, school field trip, out of state sporting tournaments or whatever, you could say: “It was so nice to visit with you. I can tell you would love this article I just read about…I’ll send you an email or if there is a chance for a returning visit, I’ll bring it to the next soccer game.” Simply look for opportunities to share things in an ordinary way without any major commitments. You simply want to enhance their lives with the gospel. We have work to do and the great thing about it is that it is full of joy. There will be tender moments of trials and set backs, refusals, and even rejections. Remember that we are being successful by simply asking and inviting people as directed by the Holy Spirit. Every moment is a moment of success because we are doing the Lord’s will, and we are seeking to please our Father even as the Savior did. The Lord’s way always works. We have been commanded! We should obey. The joy is indescribably delicious, but we must open our mouths to partake of it. Remember in our conversations to talk about the Church as a matter of fact without reservation or explanation. The more natural and normal you converse, the easier to share the gospel. Don’t make your conversation a ploy or necessarily planned, but just always be sharing your most precious gift of the gospel of Jesus Christ. “The other day at Church…You will not believe what I learned in my Church meetings last Sunday…My neighbor gave me this book at Church…wow is it amazing.”
Take time to think of some of the needs of your friends because The Ensign is full of articles that could relate to anyone, which makes it a wonderful missionary tool for sharing the gospel with your non-member friends. This precious magazine is a wonderful introduction into the gospel, as many people will be more apt to pick up a magazine than a book. Take the time to study it and see if there is an article that could help someone you know—and then share it!
Make a little missionary kit with copies of The Book of Mormon, pass along cards, Ensigns, DVD’s and pamphlets and put in your car so you are always prepared. We gave missionary kits to all our children several years ago for Christmas to help them be prepared. Keep them stocked and you’ll always be ready.
My sweetheart Pat was serving as the General President of the Primary and we were on our way to the Philmont Scout Ranch where she was to speak to Stake Presidents in regard to scouting in the Church. I was driving merrily along not paying much attention, as the road seemed endless before me and after me. As I was speeding along out of no where it seemed flashing lights of red, white and blue were pulsing behind me with an ever increasing siren blazing in the quiet desert of New Mexico. I looked down and sure enough I was speeding. I probably exceeded the speed limit by ten miles an hour. I pulled over quickly to the side of the road and rolled down my window. The Highway Patrolman walked up to my side and asked for the usual documentation of license and registration. I provided it and expressed my sorrow for going to fast. He acknowledged that I indeed had broken the law and said he would need to give me a ticket. Then out of the blue I said, “Since you are giving me something the least I can do is give you a present.” I opened the door and reached in the back seat to get one of the copies of The Book of Mormon. Then I said something like, “I am giving you a most priceless gift that will bring you closer to Heavenly Father and our Savior Jesus Christ. I want you to know that I love this book and testify that it is true.” As I looked into his eyes as I was presenting him the book it was as if the world stopped for a few precious moments. There was a hush over the desert and the Spirit was there. He looked at me and said, “Thank you. Could I have the ticket back please? Then he wrote on it in big letters WARNING. I smiled and thanked him and he smiled and thanked me and I solemnly got back into the car and prayed that he would know that The Book of Mormon was true and it was the word of God. A miracle. It was a missionary moment on an isolated road in the desert of New Mexico. I thanked the Lord and we proceeded on our way. Keep your mind focused on missionary opportunities for they are everyway you turn—just be ready.
We were on vacation with friends and we stopped to pick up some groceries. As we stood in line the clerk mentioned that I would receive so many points for shopping at the grocery store. I was delighted and looked at the woman behind us in line and asked her if she would like my points. She was delighted and then I said but you have to do me a favor. She smiled. I quickly went the car and came back with The Book of Mormon. I said to her that the points were wonderful but this gift I was giving her was priceless. She promised she would read it. We left with gratitude hoping and praying that she would love the book. Life was good. There are missionary moments every moment of everyday as we seek tom open our mouths and share the joy of the gospel.
As we pray for missionary opportunities, the Lord will provide us a way to open our mouths and share this glorious message. Be strong and of good courage. “I’m busy.” “I’m tired.” “It’s too late.” These are some of the feelings we might have. It’s OK. Time Out! We need a little rest. We needn’t hyperventilate. Just be friendly and kind. Don’t over extend yourself. Pray for guidance in selecting a family or friend to share the gospel. Let’s compare this great member missionary work with lifting weights. We build up strength as we progress through lighter to heavier weights, and each time we go to a higher weight, we become stronger and able to lift more. So it is with missionary work. A little at a time and we will grow day by day into an instrument of the Lord. This is joy. You will believe when words of truth come out of your mouth and people say, “Thank you. We would love to….” With friends and neighbors, look for an opportunity to invite them to enjoy an activity with you, read an article, or whatever the Spirit suggests. If it is a neighbor, just drop by and leave them something that would invite questions or discussions about a gospel topic. But invite them to do something.