Chapter 2: Getting Started

Opening Your Mouth

I was 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 back 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 they 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. 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. Abinadi had no knowledge of his convert Alma. Samuel the Lamanite simple 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 and most times that will eventually require us to open our mouths and eventually issuing an invitation for others to act concerning a gospel related activity. We are to invite. This is a huge success in sharing the gospel. A greater joy is when they accept. And then the greatest joy is like Alma’s and Ammon’s when they accept the gospel and come unto Christ and are baptized. “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 hour.

Young Mormons

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 for sharing 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, tender moments of trials and set backs, refusals, and even rejections, but 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. And the joy is indescribably delicious, but we must open our mouths to partake of it. Remember    in our conversations talk about the Church as a matter of fact, it is part of who you are. The more natural and normal you converse the easier to share the gospel. Don’t make it a ploy or necessarily planned but just always be about doing good and sharing your most precious gift of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Ensign is full of articles that could relate to anyone on many different levels. 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.   Keep your mind focused on missionary opportunities. 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. 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.             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. A great joy is felt when they accept an invitation. The greater joy is when they accept the missionaries to come and teach them, and you reassure them that you will be right there with them if they have any questions or concerns. In sharing the gospel it will at one time or another require us to open our mouths.

Making The Invitation A Key To Success

Consider the following activities with your friends and neighbors. The easiest ones to do are at the beginning. Remember all we want to do is to love them and let them know that Heavenly Father loves them and life is great especially as the gospel of Jesus Christ becomes a part of their lives.

  • Make a plan to get to know your neighbors that live close to you.
  • Be friendly to the people in your neighborhood.
  • Share some cookies or special treats with your friend or neighbor.
  • Select a friend to share the gospel with.
  • Invite a friend or neighbor to a local concert.
  • Invite a friend or neighbor to participate in a recreational activity.
  • Invite a friend or neighbor to a ward picnic.
  • Share a copy of an Ensign or The New Era with a neighbor.
  • Attempt to start a gospel conversation with your friend or neighbor.
  • Share a church book with a friend or neighbor.
  • Share a copy of The Book of Mormon with a friend or neighbor.
  • Invite a friend or neighbor to Church (usually just sacrament meeting).
  • Invite a new friend or neighbor to Relief Society.
  • Invite a relative, friend, or neighbor to come to your child’s baptism.
  • Invite a family over for Family Home Evening.
  • Invite a friend or neighbor to have the missionaries teach them the gospel.

That list is not exhaustive or perfect in placement or difficulty but rather just some ideas we might all consider. Remember we are always looking for a moment to issue and invitation. If our desires are strong the Holy Spirit will guide and direct us in what to do and what to say and how to say it. Trust in the Lord. We can do it. We need to be sincere and full of love. We need to be their friends. Our success is simply to invite all to partake of the love of God. We are to offer the gospel of Jesus Christ. They choose.

Mormon serviceSo “let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed” (D&C 123:17). His arm will be extended, and we can do it in the strength of the Lord.

The joy of sharing copies of The Book of Mormon is indescribably delicious. Each including an invitation to read the book and Come unto Christ.As a family we routinely have a FHE night where we would put our testimonies in copies of The Book of Mormon and send them off to missions throughout the world, praying fervently for those who would receive the copies. This was kind of like opening our mouths without any stress, and we knew the missionaries needed copies of The Book of Mormon.

A few months after sending copies out, two dramatic events took place within a couple of weeks of each other. First, a letter came from South America written in Spanish. Curious, I rushed to a good friend for translation. The letter read: “Thank you for inviting me to read and pray about the truthfulness of The Book of Mormon. Thank you. Thank you. It is true. I am now a member of the true Church. Your brother…”
Shortly after the letter I received a phone call from a student who queried me as to the fact if I was Ed J. Pinegar. I confessed I was. His voice was a little shaky and he said, “I am a student here at BYU, and I just want to tell you thank you. I received a copy of The Book of Mormon with your testimony in it. I took the lessons got baptized. Thanks so much.”

I give gratitude for the goodness of God, the blessings of the enabling power of the atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ, and the great converting power of The Book of Mormon and the Holy Ghost. There is joy in building up the Kingdom of God.

Examples Of Fearlessness In Opening Your Mouth And Sharing The Gospel

President Kimball shares several examples of members having “sharing the gospel” experiences too.

reading Mormon magazing“A beauty operator, a member, asked her new client if she would like to read a Church tract while waiting and placed it in her client’s hand. The answer was “No.” Then she offered a copy of the Book of Mormon and again the answer was “No.” Not giving up, the member picked up a Church magazine from another table as though it were a commercial magazine and gave that to her client to read. Quickly thumbing through the pages the client readily realized it was also Church material, but as she moved to lay it down, she noticed an article entitled, “Love at Home.” Having some serious troubles with her husband, she decided to read the article. Then during the rest of the visit a lengthy conversation developed around Mormon home life. The result was a visit arranged immediately with the missionaries. The husband wasn’t present at the first visit, but the wife gave him an ultimatum: “Listen to these missionaries or the children and I may leave.” He listened. They were baptized as a family. He is a high councilor today.” (Spencer w. Kimball, “It Becometh Every Man,” Ensign, Oct. 1977, p. 7).

Is that amazing. She never gave up. She never gave in. She never gave out. Can you imagine how pleased the Lord is with that kind of effort? Now what if she still refused? There may have not been joy over a conversion but there would be joy knowing you had done the will of the Father and in that you shall be blessed. There is peace in righteous doing. Remember a seed can take root long after you have planted it. Abinadi never knew of Alma his magnificent convert that changed much of the Nephite nation.

Another example from President Kimball, “We have profound influences upon our relatives. A young mother turned to her own mother who was a guest in the home, and who had just enjoyed a visit with the missionaries and said, “Mother, what has gotten into you? You don’t even treat relatives that nice!” The lady, wise and perceptive and spiritual, looked at her daughter and replied, “My dear, can’t you see: they are angels!” They joined the Church. That phrase is a tradition in that family. They will always look upon all missionaries as ministering angels.” (Spencer w. Kimball, “It Becometh Every Man,” Ensign, Oct. 1977, p. 7).

Not only do we have influence on our relatives we have influence in our circle of friends. What you are will radiate to them and at the right moment you will say the right thing and question will be asked and a discussion will ensue and someone will want to know the truth. You will say to yourself, “That was so easy and natural.” And it will be. You will be an instrument in the hands of God and lives will be blessed.

President Kimball with a multiplicity of insights teaches us yet another great truth. “Every gospel teaching experience is a spiritual experience for all parties, regardless of whether it leads to baptism or not. Our goal should be to identify as soon as possible which of our Father’s children are spiritually prepared to proceed all the way to baptism into the kingdom. One of the best ways to find out is to expose your friends, relatives, neighbors, and acquaintances to the full-time missionaries as soon as possible. Don’t wait for long fellowshipping nor for the precise, perfect moment. What you need to do is find out if they are the elect.

“[My] elect hear my voice and harden not their hearts” (D&C 29:7). If they hear and have hearts open to the gospel, it will be evident immediately. If they won’t listen, and their hearts are hardened with skepticism or negative comments, they are not ready. In this case, keep loving them, fellowshipping them, and wait for the next opportunity to find out if they are ready. You will not lose their friendship. They will still respect you.” (Spencer w. Kimball, “It Becometh Every Man,” Ensign, Oct. 1977, p. 7).

Love everyone. Their positive response does not make or break our friendship. We just want to help everybody everywhere. As we start our friendly conversations the Spirit will lead you in the conversation provided we are praying for that help. We must earnestly seek a portion of the Holy Spirit to assist in the work. It is like the person who says he never has a missionary experience and his friend asked, “Have you ever prayed to have a missionary experience where you can share the gospel? Silence prevailed and a lesson was learned. If there is no desire there is usually no effort to start a gospel conversation.

While serving as President of the MTC in Provo I would give a message to the departing missionaries. It included some of the following:

  • Being exactly, immediately, and courageously obedient.
  • Love the people you serve and teach.
  • Live worthy of the Holy Spirit—and teach by that same Spirit.
  • Exercise faith in Jesus Christ so you can do the work.
  • Your loving mission president and his wife are waiting for you. Follow their counsel.
  • And the parting words were—Open Your Mouth.

member missionaryI covered each subject and gave them a challenge to open their mouth on their way to their mission. I encouraged them to get in the habit of never letting a person pass by you without a word of greeting as directed by the Holy Spirit. The results were amazing, as the following letters will testify.

Dear President Pinegar,

I want to thank you for telling us to open our mouths in the departure meeting. I know the Lord has commanded us to do so for a purpose and I would like to share an experience with you. My first Sunday here in Paraguay we rode a bus to a nearby town for a discussion. I was sitting next to a woman and felt the need to talk to her and give her a copy of The Book of Mormon. And though I was only in the field four days and was afraid to speak because of my lack of language experience, the Lord blessed me with the words and the ability to understand her. I gave her the Book of Mormon, and with the help of my companion, got her address. The elders found her home and challenged her to be baptized in the first discussion, which she accepted. What a beautiful feeling it was to see her at church and know the Lord had used me as an instrument in his hands, even in my rough form. Tell the missionaries to open their mouths right away. Don’t wait until you feel comfortable with the language. Many precious souls may be lost if you wait. Every soul is important to Heavenly Father and He will bless you by the Holy Ghost to accomplish His purposes.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is once again on the earth in its complete form. And I’m grateful I can help share it.

May God continue to bless you in all you do.
Sister Kerrie Cross
Paraguay Asuncion Mission

 

“Dear President,

After your talk Sunday night I was so nervous I didn’t know what to do. I knew I’d be leaving Wednesday, and I was going to have to open my mouth. And I thought, I can’t do it, I can’t do it. So, I fasted and I prayed and I left Wednesday on the plane, and to my joy I had a window seat and my companion sat next to me. So I said, ‘Oh dear I won’t be able to talk to anybody on the plane,’ and so I was relieved. But then, I got into the airport and I sat down, and here was a man sitting across from me. He was old and different looking, and I didn’t know what to do. And all I could remember was your voice telling us, ‘Open your mouths, it will be filled, I promise you.’ Well, I girded up my loins and I opened my mouth and said, ‘Hi, where you headed?’ From that little beginning began an hour conversation. Pretty soon we became friends.

And after a bit I said, ‘If you knew there was another book written about Jesus Christ would you be interested in reading that? The Book of Mormon?’ He said, ‘Oh, I have a Book of Mormon.’ I committed him right there to read the book, and then he told me, ‘My daughter is taking the discussions, too.’ And then I said, ‘Is it OK if I have the missionaries come by and see you?’ He said, ‘That will just be fine.’ Oh, President, it’s so easy to open your mouth. The Lord will fill it. There’s nothing to it.”

A Thankful Missionary

I read that letter every time to departing missionaries because it helped them realize that we can all do it. Another joyful letter comes from a sister on her way to Korea.

 

Dear President Pinegar,

On the way to L.A. from S. L.C., I was feeling a great deal of fear about opening my mouth. I wanted to share the gospel, but I was afraid of rejection. I sat down next to a man that, to be honest, looked very mean and unhappy. He was probably in his 70s and looked straight ahead without saying a word to me. It took me a good 10 minutes to muster up enough courage to say “Hi!” I did it because I remember the words you had said about “opening your mouth.” You know, it really worked! This man needed someone to talk to. He just needed someone else to initiate the conversation. He told me all about himself and I told him about myself and why I was going to Korea on a mission. He was impressed. He had a daughter who was having the discussions and already owned a copy of the Book of Mormon. Well, by the end of the flight we were on a first-name basis and he said he would always remember that flight and me. I got his address and told him I would write him from Korea. I also committed him to read the Book of Mormon. On the flight from L.A. to Korea, our district gave out seven copies of The Book of Mormon and made about ten total contacts, with one commitment for a first discussion.

One of the elders was having a Korean gentleman who knew some English help him with his Korean. He then gave him the Book of Mormon and the man read it for about an hour on the plane ride. Tell all those missionaries that if they fear, they doubt the power of God because although we are weak, if we have faith and open our mouths, he will fill them. He has the power to make us do incredible things—I’ve felt it!

Sister Rebecca Ivie,
Seoul, Korea Mission

 

Dear President Pinegar,

When I got here at Arcadia, I wasn’t here half an hour before I was blessed with the opportunity of being persecuted for the Lord. Persecution is a lot easier to take when you think of it that way, then you aren’t as likely to have contention in your heart. In fact, we had two people yell at us from a corner while we were on our bikes. We turned around, asked them what we had done to them to deserve such ridicule, and they couldn’t think of anything. So we asked them what they knew about us, and why two normal-looking young men would be riding bikes in 80-degree weather in suits and ties. Well, to make it short, we gave out two copies of the Book of Mormon and made an appointment to teach them at a city park the next day. They came and brought a friend. While we were teaching, a group of boys between 14–16 came and, slowly but surely, they were drawn to what we were saying. We now have over 10 people that we are teaching just because we asked why they were yelling things at people they didn’t know. Doesn’t the Lord work in a mysterious way?

Elder Beck
Arcadia, California Mission

These young, enthusiastic, and believing missionaries did it and so can we! The missionaries all had success as they opened their mouths for they had the courage to invite the people to do something that brought about a gospel conversation or moment in time where the love of God was felt by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Let us pray to the Lord for strength to open our mouths, to find the people who will hear our voices, and then let us speak. For of all the things full-time missionaries and members struggle with, knowing what words to say and when to say them can require the most thought.

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