Elder and Sister Brent H. Nielson of the Seventy
Sunday Ecclesiastical Training Meeting, November 10, 2019
- When my husband was called into the Seventy, I quickly found myself re-located to Auckland, New Zealand, with no clear understanding of what was expected of me. Everything in my life was now gone, my children, my home, my calling, my stability. What was I to do? Miraculously, the Lord sent Sister Julie Beck, the General President of the Relief Society to rescue me. One of our first assignments was to meet Sister Beck in Tonga for a series of meetings. We were with her for 5 days. The two of us went on exercise walks on the beach every morning. One morning, Sister Beck said to me, “How are you doing, and I mean HOW are you really doing?” I shared with her my frustrations, uncertainties, worries. Sister Beck stopped me on the beach, stood right in front of me, looked me in the eyes, and said, “Heavenly Father doesn’t need you or want you to do the things that you have been doing. He needs you here and now. He needs you to learn ONE THING — how to minister like He did! Your ministry is now ONE BY ONE, just as His was. Learn to minister as He did and you will have all you need to be successful and fulfilled. There will ALWAYS be at least one person that will need you, no matter where you go and in whatever capacity you serve. The Spirit will tell you who they are. Give them the gift of yourself. Become a ‘ONE BY ONE MINISTER OF THE LORD’.”
- Here in the Missionary Training Center is to look your missionaries in the eyes and help them to understand that they are ministers of Jesus Christ. Help them to own the title ‘Minister’.
- The Lord sent Sister Julie Beck to Tonga to minister TO ME! She did much other good during her stay, but she ministered TO ME!
- No matter what your specific calling is here at the training center, you have a vertical relationship with your Heavenly Father.
- The Lord has 65,000 young people spreading His message. The Provo Missionary Training Center is the hub of all the training of these great young people, and all of you are right in the middle of their training. You are an essential part! What a blessing for all of you.
- I am going to talk about some of the changes that are taking place, but please remember that some things never change in this work. They are:
- The Church is steadfast and immovable
- God and Jesus are in the Heavens, and they communicate with us
- Apostles and prophets are leading this Church by inspiration
- Jesus is the Christ
- Temple ordinances are the heart of the gospel
- We are always looking for different ways to find people to teach. Social media is becoming a huge positive force in our efforts.
- Have you noticed a pattern coming from the First Presidency? Have you noticed ‘higher and holier’ mentioned often? In our missionary work, President Nelson wants us to mention ‘normal and natural’ as we talk about reaching out to others. We will no longer use salesmen tactics. We have found that asking people to come to member’s home to hear a discussion is not effective. The way of success is to ask them to come to Church with us.
- The new approach is ‘come and see’, ‘come and help’, and ‘come and stay’.
- We want to de-emphasize ‘rules’ and emphasize ‘discipleship’. For example, no restrictions have been placed on how long a missionary can Skype their families on preparation day, and we are finding that the vast majority of missionaries are being appropriate and responsible.
- In the last year, we have seen an 8% increase in the number of convert baptisms, a 7% increase in the baptisms per missionary ratio, and a 2% increase in Sacrament Meeting attendance. There are those who tell us that the Church is imploding, but they must not be looking at the numbers I look at. There will be about 300,000 convert baptisms this year.
- Our missionary force has increased by 4,000 in the last few months. We are soon going to create 8 new missions to accommodate the increase. I attribute this increase to President Nelson’s talk last year to the youth, inviting them to become part of something big, something majestic, something eternal.
- Recent progress and change in the missionary effort:
- Dress standards were updated, to include slacks for the sisters.
- Medical expertise is now being provided for each individual mission, including emotional and behavioral matters.
- An area mission specialist (former mission president) is now available in each area to help new mission presidents.
- Enhanced safety concern (safety is the number one concern on my mind and the general authorities’ minds).
- Increasing the success of our online teaching system (the Church website had 25 million hits last year).
- A new missionary handbook will be available within a few weeks, with a much larger emphasis on discipleship and less emphasis on ‘rules’.
- There will be enhanced in-field training for new presidents.
- There will be enhanced in-field language learning opportunities.
- There has been a 700% increase in the online requests for missionaries to come to homes. We have purchased many of the major religious catch-phrases from Google, including Jesus Christ and others.
- The cost per family to support a missionary will increase from $400 to $500 in July of 2020. It is still a bargain, as it costs well over $1000 per month for the Church to sustain its missionary efforts. The Church maintains 33,000 apartments for the missionaries and over 15,000 cars for the use of missionaries.
- Elder Nielson and his committee worked for months on the new edition of the Missionary Handbook. When they finally were able to present the First Presidency with a draft, President Nelson returned the draft with a three-word note: “Add more joy!” He apparently was looking for less rules and regulations and more happiness.
- 3 Nephi 27:21 — “…that which ye have seen me do, that shall ye also do…” Christ repeated this admonition twice in the same verse.
- Mosiah 15:7 — “…the will of the Son being swallowed up in the will of the Father…”. Even so, our wills must be swallowed up in the will of the Son. Mission presidents can look at their picture boards and tell you exactly which missionaries have given their wills to the Son.
- 1 Nephi 4:37 — Nephi’s concerns about Zoram were resolved when Zoram made an oath, and Nephi said, “…our fears did cease concerning him…”. Zoram had made a vow, a covenant. The fear of mission presidents cease when a missionary honors his vows and covenants.
- We want to reach a stage where all missionaries have smartphones, but they can be a safety hazard in areas where robberies are common.
- The next edition of Preach My Gospel will be available in June 2020. The language will be simplified.
- We want the Sabbath to be a delight for all missionaries. Right now the Sabbath is a day of unrelenting work.
- THE HEART OF MISSIONARY WORK:
- The two great commandments (Love God and love others)
- The Grand Commission (…go ye into all nations…)
- Minister to all who will hear
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