Sunday, August 12, 2012

Tripling Down

Today I got to teach the Relief Society lesson in church.  It was Lesson #15 in the Teachings of Presidents of the Church, George Albert Smith Manual, titled "Advancing the Work of the Lord". 

From the beginning of the chapter, it reads:
When George Albert Smith was called to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in 1903, Church membership stood at just over 300,000.  By the end of his service as President of the Church, it had surpassed 1 million.  President Smith rejoiced in such growth because it meant that the message of salvation was reaching more and more people.  "How happy we should be," he said to a general conference audience in 1950, "not that we have increased in numbers in the organization that we belong to, but that more of our Father's children, more of his sons and daughters, have been brought to an understanding of the truth, and are coming into his organization that he prepared to teach us the way of life and lead us along the pathway of eternal happiness."  (p.157)
That set the scene for the lesson.  Later this evening, I came across this really great quote, by President Spencer W. Kimball.  I love it.
The Spirit of the Lord is brooding over these nations under a new regime that is certainly more open and more receptive to western ideas than ever before.  Such cultural and educational interchanges will offer opportunities for exposure to the gospel.  We must be prepared.  The Lord is doing his part and is waiting for us to open the doors.  There are almost three billion people now living on the earth in nations where the gospel is not now being preached.  If we could only make a small beginning in every nation, soon the converts among each kindred and tongue could step forth as lights to their own people and the gospel would thus be preached in all nations before the coming of the Lord.  I believe the Lord can do anything he sets his mind to do.  But I can see no good reason why the Lord would open doors that we are not prepared to enter.  Why should he break down the Iron Curtain or the Bamboo Curtain or any other curtain if we are still unprepared to enter?  God will bless expanded effort to teach all nations.  If we do all we can, and I accept my own part of that responsibility, I am sure the Lord will bring more discoveries to our use.  He will bring a change of heart into kings and magistrates and emperors, or he will divert rivers or open seas or find ways to touch hearts.  He will open the gates and make possible the proselytizing.  Of that, I have great faith. (Spencer W. Kimball, The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, edited by Edward L. Kimball, p. 584; from Denver Snuffer's Nephi's Isaiah, Kindle copy, 37% mark).

(photo source)
In the lesson today, I questioned why the growth of the church seemed to triple in the nearly 50 years of George Albert Smith's presidency, but it isn't tripling now.  I think my math abilities shows their ugly faces, because the church membership is around 16 million at present.  If we were at 1 million in the 50s, and we're at 16 million now, I do believe that is more than tripling the rate.

I really love the above quote, because it illustrates many things.  One, are we ready to enter doors of other countries to share the gospel of Jesus Christ?  Are we even willing to sacrifice our time for a night out with the missionaries, much less give up prosperous living conditions to drudge through the deserts of Iran, or the jungles of North Korea?  I'm not sure.  Are we willing to take to teaching among a somewhat hostile people, just to find the select?   (I say "hostile" because due to current media portrayals, Christians are not well received in those countries.  That doesn't mean my interpretation is correct.) 

I love the it indicates that the Lord will change hearts of kings, magistrates, emperors.  He will divert rivers, open seas (perhaps via tsunami, as in 2004?), and open gates.  I never thought to ask Him to do that, but why not?  And why not pray that we can be ready and prepared to take on such challenges?  It may not necessarily mean the folks with nametags are going in, but as I see it, once uncensored internet access is allowed in many of these countries, there's no stopping the message.

Definitely an awesome, prophetic quote! 

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