The last few months, I’ve taken on the sacred assignment of teaching a missionary preparation class here in the Laredo 3rd Branch. I’m currently serving as the Young Men’s President here. When I found out that the age for missionary service would be lowered from 19 to 18 for young men, I immediately had a rush of urgency hit me that was telling me that I needed to get our boys ready to go as soon as they graduate high school.
I’ve been Young Men’s President before in Alabama, and I can say that nothing makes me happier than to see one of my young men reach that point in their spirituality that they want to serve a mission. Akin to that, nothing hurts me more deeply than to see one of my current or former young men take the wrong path in their lives that leads to sin and sadness. I didn’t want that to happen here in Laredo. That’s when I started up a missionary preparation class for our young men and young single adults ages 16 and up. There was a sense of urgency that had never been felt before, and we knew we would have to go the extra mile to get these boys ready.
The other day in one of our classes, I shared the above talk. It is the last talk given by the Apostle Bruce R. McConkie before he passed away. Unlike most of the videos I’ve shared in that class, this particular talk isn’t geared toward missionary work at all. I shared it because it gives us a strong, bold witness of Jesus Christ.
Above all, missionaries must have the conviction that Jesus is the Savior of their souls. They’ve got to understand and experience for themselves the sanctifying power that the atonement can have on their souls. If our future missionaries don’t have a life-changing experience with Christ’s atonement, then they will never be effective missionaries in the field, and they are wasting their time.
I worry that many times we try to keep our youth in the church by entertaining them, socializing them, playing games with them, or doing crafts with them, but in the end, the one thing that is going to keep them coming to church throughout their entire lives is their relationship with Jesus Christ. Regardless of how many dances we haul them to, how many Boy Scout camp outs we send them on, or how many combined activities we plan for them, if as parents and leaders we aren’t offering them frequent and powerful spiritual experiences that allow them to develop a personal relationship with God and Jesus Christ, (which these youth hunger and thirst for), then we are failing them. God is expecting more from them now, and that also means He is expecting more from the rest of us to help get them ready.
Joshua B. Pettus
Your Friendly Mormon Neighbor