Sunday, June 29, 2014

"Save it be one Soul. . . ."

In Section 18 of the Doctrine and Covenants, we read:

"And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!" (D&C 18:15)

Almost 44 years ago, I began serving as a young missionary in the California Central Mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. While serving in Merced, California (my last area) , we were introduced to a young man named Kevin Hill, who wanted to learn more about our Church. As a first year student at a local college in Merced, Kevin made friends with a young woman who was a new Church member. My companion (Elder Kenneth Cogdell) and I were able to teach Kevin the Gospel. He was baptized, and almost immediately thereafter left California to attend the United States Air Force Academy. I saw Kevin at Thanksgiving of 1972, after I had returned home, and then lost contact for more than 35 years.

A couple of years ago through Kevin's efforts, we again made contact. Today, I received notice via Facebook of the following post by Kevin:

"42 years ago today I joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and it was one of the best decisions of my life. David Berrett was one of the Missionaries that baptized me. As I have continued to read the Bible, old and new testaments, the Book of Mormon and other books and scriptures it amazes me how all the parts fit together. I have loved serving in the Church in various callings and I have been so blessed in so many ways. I would not trade any of our 9 kids or 10 (1/2) Grandkids and the blessings that they give me. I have had more joy, happiness and hope than I ever had before. I am also thankful the young lady, Linda Thornhill, that introduced me to the Church and wish her well."

Now, "the rest of the story."

While it might be possible to consider Kevin "just one" person whom I had the privilege to teach and see baptized, this would be an error. About a year ago, I asked him about the consequences of his baptism. You can see from the quote above, he and his wife have 9 children and 10 (and counting) grandchildren. That makes 20 Church members from his baptism. (I am assuming that his wife already was a Church member, so we do not count her.) One son served a mission, working with at least 44 people who were baptized. Another son worked with more than 23 people who joined the Church. One of their daughters worked with 5 people who were baptized. And, at the time Kevin gave me these statistics, he and his wife still had two sons planning to serve missions. By Kevin's count, that is 92 people who are know to have come to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from "only one." Undoubtedly there are more, as Kevin served for a time as a ward mission leader and has done his best to be a member missionary.

Now, as I and my companion of 40 years serve another mission, we remind our missionaries of the consequences of each person who is baptized. One person who joins the Church is never just one. I think this is what "establishing the Church" looks like. I am grateful for Kevin and for his constant persistence in developing and maintaining his testimony. I am grateful for having been of some small benefit in helping start this wonderful miracle.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Working for Miracles

We have been inviting our missionaries to induce miracles by improving their obedience and being cleansed every whit from sin. Recently I received a letter from one of our obedient missionaries who shared a wonderful experience:

"We met one brother whose name is Srinivash by ITL ["Inviting to Learn"]. We did a follow up with him and fixed an appointment with him for last Sunday. We went and visited him. He told us that he is waiting for us from three days onward. He said 'I'm from Hindu background but I gave commitment to Jesus Christ that I will follow him. I waited for the right time from last year onward. I'm very happy to meet you." He said 'I'm ready for baptism because I believe Jesus Christ.' He told us and we went to his home. Not only he was there but his family - his mother and his brother and his sister in law. He is so good and he went to church before. They all are Hindu background but they believe Jesus Christ. We shared the message with them. They said they like this message. They feel so happy and thanked us for coming to their home. We like to visit again. Also we feel so happy because we met that time 4 investigators with their relative also . We never expected there will be four souls for us to meet. We are happy for this miracle which happened. We will follow up with them."

We are excited that we have the opportunity to help build faith in our missionaries and also to help establish the Lord's Church.