Elder and Sister Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Tuesday devotional, June 4, 2019
- I was in the “MTC” 40 years ago. I learned the importance of the Spirit. I learned that I could love people who were hard to love. I learned the importance of serving with all your heart, might, mind, and strength. I learned that I could receive PERSONAL revelation.
- Mosiah 18 mentions the importance of being a witness of God at all times, in all places, in all things. I would share an experience that happened while Elder Gong and I were serving in Hong Kong. Right around the corner from the Area offices was the small shop of a woman that sold fruit. She could only be described as grumpy. She would scowl and glare at everyone who passed her little shop. She even earned the title of “Grumpy Old Lady” in the Area offices. One of the senior sister missionaries serving in the Area office noticed this grouchy little lady and decided to become her friend. Even though she couldn’t speak Mandarin, she would smile and gesture and hug and radiate the spirit, no matter how grumpy the old woman appeared. Eventually the grouchy woman began to soften and respond. The senior missionary sister bought the old woman some flowers one day, and presented them to the old woman. They became fast friends. One a given day, the senior missionary told Sister Gong that she wanted her (Sister Gong) to meet a new friend of hers. Sister Gong followed the missionary out of the Area office and around the corner. Much to her surprise, the new friend was the ‘former’ grouchy lady, who now had a smile on her face and greeted them both with smiles and hugs. Sister Gong told the MTC missionaries that “you will meet people every single day during your mission that need you, need your message, and need your kindness. Go find them and serve them. Be kind.”
- My full name is Garrit Walter Gong. I am the only person that I know that has a Dutch first name, an American middle name, and a Chinese last name. When I served as the Area President in Hong Kong, I was called Hong Kong Gong. My first counselor in the Area Presidency was Elder Sam Wong. He was called Hong Kong Wong. We warned people not to confuse us with each other because they would end up with the ‘Wong Gong’. And that would mean that they had ‘Gong Wong’.
- I have three invitations for you tonight. My prayer is that the Holy Spirit will testify to you of the importance of these three matters.
- Invitation Number One — Help and minister to each companion that you have during your mission, and become life-long friends.
- When I interview missionaries in the mission field, I like to ask them if they have had good companions. Their response to that question tells me a great deal about how THEY ARE THEMSELVES as companions. Missionaries who complain about their companions are usually not wonderful companions themselves. Missionaries who love their companions and state that they have had only great companions are usually Christ-like companions themselves.
- Be compassionate, thoughtful, and service-oriented toward your companions.
- My prayer is that Mosiah 17:2 will be your experience as you greet companions in the future, that you will rejoice in seeing each other, and find that you have continued in prayer and fasting and in strength in the Lord, and in revelation.
- Invitation Number Two — Become perfect in Christ. Perfection is in Christ, and not in the ‘world’. The world wants you to think you are imperfect in many ways. Heaven says that man looketh on the outward appearance and the Lord looketh on the heart. See yourself as the Lord sees you. Everyone is a person of divine potential. See Moroni 10:32-33. Be perfected in Christ. Deny yourself of all ungodliness. Do the best and be the best you can every day. Set realistic goals.
- Invitation Number Three — Be a witness and participate in revelation. Next year we will celebrate the 200th anniversary of the First Vision. There are ‘character trees’ in the Sacred Grove. They have made ‘adjustments’ to all adverse conditions and thrived. The caretaker of the Grove is a non-member and he says that the spirit is always present in the grove, always. Not only did God the Father call Joseph by name in the grove, but Moroni also called Joseph by name in his bedroom vision.
- Can you think of a more audacious prophecy or prediction that the one made by Moroni, telling Joseph that his name would be had for good and evil throughout the world. He was an unknown, obscure, farm-boy.
- The Church is now in 191 nations. There are 3,391 stakes of Zion. Who could have predicted this phenomenal growth?
- The USA, Mexico, and Brazil each have over 1 million members. 23 other countries have 100,000 or more members.
- The Book of Mormon has been translated into 112 languages. There were 5,000 copies in the first printing. Over 177 million copies have been published. Two-thirds of the world have access to the Book of Mormon in their own language.
- The Standard of Truth has been erected, and no unhallowed hand will stop it.
- There will be 4 volumes of ‘Saints’, the history of the Church. Each volume will derive its name from the Standard of Truth found in the Wentworth letter.
- Joseph proclaimed, “I didn’t write the Book of Mormon. I translated it.”
- Who fulfills the prophecy that this message will be carried to the four corners of the earth? You do! If you don’t do it, who will? You can be the instrument in the Lord’s hand to carry this message. Help fulfill the prophecy that every man and woman will hear the message in their own tongue.