The Priesthood Session of the October 1976 conference had two talks that really made me feel a greater sense of urgency in my missionary efforts and in my dedication to the Gospel.
First, Elder Rex D. Pinegar shared a story from the life of President Spencer W. Kimball that made me reflect on how much more bold I need to be in my efforts:
Our beloved prophet not only calls us to be better missionaries, to lengthen our stride, he shows us how. In 1975 my wife and I were with President and Sister Kimball in Bogota, Colombia. As we were in the airport for his departure, an airlines representative met with us. Upon being introduced to this fine young man, the prophet extended his hand with these words, “Young man, I hope the next time I shake your hand you’re a member of this church.” Without any hesitation, and with his eyes fixed firmly on those of the prophet, the man replied, “Sir, so do I!” The President turned to the mission president and obtained a commitment from him to teach the man the gospel. Words President Kimball had spoken to missionaries in Bogota had been exemplified in deed: “Give full energy and thought to the Lord’s work–your lives will be rich because of it.” That day I saw how the prophet’s full thought was centered on living the spirit of the calling, as well as carrying out the physical duties that are his.
I was so impressed by the effectiveness of this missionary approach by the prophet that I tried it myself in Puerto Rico. Just a few weeks later I was in San Juan, Puerto Rico, for a district conference. Following the morning session a Brother Martinez brought his nonmember mother and sisters up so I could meet them. As I leaned down over the railing of the stand I could hear the words of President Kimball ringing in my mind. Out they came: “Ma’am, the next time I shake your hand, I hope you are a member of this Church.” To my amazement and joy, her reply came quickly and sincerely, “And sir, so do I.” Five weeks following the conference the Martinez family was baptized. The father followed the rest of the family into the waters of baptism by three weeks. This experience has been repeated at least six times. My life has become rich by following the example set by President Kimball.
When I was a full-time missionary I had that kind of boldness. It's easier to be bold with people in far away countries, but so much credit harder to be bold with our neighbors. I talk about the church with people all the time. I'm rarely silent about my beliefs. And yet, this story makes me realize that I have been far too timid.
A story shared by Elder Marion G. Romney had a similar impact:
In any event, the charge came to my mind recently as I listened to the report of a returned missionary.
He told us that the wife in the family in whose home he and his companion were living was interested in the gospel; her husband was not interested, however. But finally he warmed up a little and said that when the missionaries had nothing else to do he would listen to them. Sometime thereafter when a wet and windy storm drove them in from tracting, finding him alone, they gave him the first missionary lesson. He didn’t exhibit much interest at first, but when they had concluded, he stood up and said, in effect:
“Do you know what you have just told me?”
They thought they did.
“Do you believe it?” he asked.
“Yes,” they replied, “we believe it.”
“Well then,” he declared, “you don’t understand what you’re saying. If you really believed that God and His resurrected Son, Jesus Christ, actually came to this earth in 1820 and personally appeared to a boy and gave him the message you say they gave him, no storm could drive you in from doing your work. With a message like that you would have to stay out there knocking on doors and delivering your message.”
As I have thought about this incident, I have asked myself the question which I now put to you: How much of a storm does it take to drive you in? How much of a storm does it take to drive me in?
How easily dissuaded or distracted are we from sharing the Gospel because we worry about being uncomfortable? If we truly understand how precious and incredible the Gospel is, we will be bold in sharing and willing to take on whatever inconvenience needed to share our witness.