Elder Francisco J. Ruiz de Mendoza, Spain
Europe Area Seventy
Europe Area Seventy
As the Work of Salvation moves forward, we feel delighted to see an ever-increasing number of God’s children become members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, 'the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth”.
I usually think of a new convert as a rough diamond whose true beauty as a jewel will gradually be realized through a carefully crafted cutting and polishing process. This requires a masterful technique, combined with loving patience and consistent dedication.
When a diamond is extracted from the mine it does not look beautiful. An expert with many years of training and experience has to work on it before that happens. The Lord wants every one of his children to come unto Christ and “be perfected in Him”. Like shining diamonds, perfected Latter Day Saints are beautiful, noble, and magnificent. Their faith and works shine as a beacon of light to the world and there is no question that they are different and unique.
Pressing forward along the way to perfection is more often than not a daunting task. It requires considerable effort and sacrifice. It also requires perseverance. And it definitely involves knowing what to do and how to do it. In His mercy, the Lord has determined that His children need to work together, helping one another, to be successful in living the law of the Gospel. When Alma gathered by the waters of Mormon, fleeing from the servants of the wicked king Noah, a “goodly number” of followers gathered together desirous to covenant with God. Alma felt they were ready for baptism for they were “willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light […], and […] to mourn with those that mourn […], comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places […], even until death.”.
New members have tasted for the first time the Spirit of God. This has happened as a consequence of members and missionaries bearing testimony to them. They have felt the truthfulness of the Gospel in their minds and their hearts, by the Holy Ghost, which has come upon them and dwelt in their hearts. Now in further fulfillment of the baptismal covenant they need to be loved and nurtured so that, through this example, they can experience even greater joy and develop the urge to do unto the others as has been done unto them.
As the late President Gordon B. Hinckley reminded all of us, a new convert has had to leave past habits and even old friends and associations. This drastic departure from the old to the new ways is not an easy one and the new convert often runs the risk of discouragement. Remember the children of Israel, when they were released from bondage in Egypt. As they experienced the hardships of life in the desert while they were led to the “promised land”, they were often distraught and wished they could return to Egypt. Speaking of the new members, this was President Hinckley’s prophetic challenge:
“Every one of them needs three things: a friend, a responsibility, and nurturing with ‘the good word of God’. It is our duty and opportunity to provide these things.”
It is my earnest prayer that each of us will receive new converts into the Church with wide opened arms, with patience and kindness, with genuine, selfless love. In so doing, we will be a significant part of the pure and undefiled religion, we will help them shine like diamonds and we will shine ourselves even more. Ultimately, we will help them build the attributes of Christ as we build these attributes ourselves.