Hastening the Work of Salvation
In the October 2012 General Conference President Thomas S. Monson announced a change in the age of missionary service for both young men and women. At a press conference held immediately thereafter, Elders Russell M. Nelson and Jeffrey R. Holland explained that the purpose of this historic revelation was the “Hastening the Work of Salvation.”
Increase in the Number of Full-time Missionaries
At the most recent General Conference held in April 2014 it was noted that since the age change announcement the number of full-time missionaries has grown from 58,000 to 83,000 as of December 31, 2013. The number of missions has grown from 347 to 405. This rapid growth shows that we are truly fulfilling our charge to preach the gospel to all nations in preparation for the second coming of the Savior.
In August of 2012 there were 2,380 full-time missionaries in the Philippines. As of June 1, 2014 there were 4,482 full-time missionaries serving in the Philippines and 2,383 of these are Filipinos. This is an increase of 2,102 in the total number of missionaries serving in the Philippines in just twenty months.
“We Are One”
These full-time missionaries have a responsibility to share the gospel and rescue the one, but they are not alone. In the April 2013 General Conference President Henry B. Eyring taught: “The Lord made it clear at the very start of this last dispensation that we were to take the gospel to all the world. What He said to the few priesthood holders in 1831 He says to the many now. Whatever age, capacity, Church calling, or location, we are one called to the work to help Him in His harvest of souls until He comes again.”
President Thomas S. Monson has counseled us: “Now is the time for members and missionaries to come together, to work together, to labor in the Lord’s vineyard to bring souls unto Him.”
These messages from the First Presidency make it clear that all members of the Church must work “arm-in-arm” and “shoulder-to-shoulder” with the full-time missionaries to share the gospel with non-members and to rescue members who are not fully participating in Church meetings and activities.
The Worth of a Soul is Great in the Sight of God
When Sister Linda K. Burton, the Relief Society General President, visited the Philippines in February of 2014, she taught about the great blessings that flow from our involvement in missionary work. She quoted scriptures found in the Doctrine and Covenants, Section 18:
Verse 10: Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God.
Verse 15: 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!
Verse 16: And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me!
Sister Burton, holding up an apple, then asked: Can you tell how many seeds are in this apple? She noted that the answer to this question is “Yes. You can simply cut the apple open and count the number of seeds in the core of the apple.”
She then asked: “Can you tell how many apples are in an apple seed?” She then commented that the answer to this question is “No.” Sister Burton taught: “With proper planting and nourishment one seed can grow into a large tree that can bare much fruit year-after-year. One apple seed can ultimately yield thousands of other apples.”
Member involvement in missionary work can bring great joy and eternal blessings! Every person we invite to listen to the missionaries can potentially be the source of bringing countless souls unto Christ in future generations.
The gospel of Jesus Christ has greatly blessed my family. I cannot count the many blessings that have come to me and my wife and our posterity because of our membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We would not enjoy any of these blessings if a member of the Church had not “opened his mouth” and invited my father to allow two missionaries to come into our home. Walter Mason, a member of the Church who lived in our neighborhood, was standing next to my father in a line at a business. He simply had the courage to ask my dad if he would allow the missionaries to come teach our family about the restored gospel and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The missionaries taught us and my parents and five of their children were baptized.
I will forever be grateful for a member of the Church who chose to become involved in missionary work, and for the two missionaries who taught me. They gave me a precious gift that has blessed me, my wife, our children and grand-children. We now have the opportunity to be on a pathway leading to eternal life.