Monday, May 7, 2018

President M. Russell Ballard on preparing ourselves and families for future service

President M. Russell Ballard (born October 8, 1928) was called as a Seventy in 1976, and has served as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles since 1985. He became acting president of the Twelve in January 2018.
"The battle to bring souls unto Christ began in the premortal world with the war in heaven. (See Rev. 12:7.) That same battle continues today in the conflict between right and wrong and between the gospel and false principles. The members of the Church hold a frontline position in the contest for the souls of men. The missionaries are on the battlefield fighting with the sword of truth to carry the glorious message of the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the peoples of the earth. No war has ever been free of risk. The prophecies of the last days lead me to believe that the intensity of the battle for the souls of men will increase and the risks will become greater as we draw closer to the second coming of the Lord.
"Preparing ourselves and our families for the challenges of the coming years will require us to replace fear with faith. We must be able to overcome the fear of enemies who oppose and threaten us....
"We parents need to begin early to prepare our children to have a strong, fervent testimony of the gospel. We must possess the faith, the courage, and the commitment that our pioneer forefathers had if we are to continue building up the kingdom of God on the earth....
"The work of sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ in all the world will require knowledge, faith, sacrifice, and the best efforts of every member of the Church. As the Prophet Joseph Smith said to the Saints in Nauvoo in 1842, 'Shall we not go on in so great a cause? Courage, … and on, on to the victory!' (D&C 128:22.) Today the leaders of the Church echo these words of the Prophet Joseph.
"Brothers and sisters, the missionaries need our faith and prayers. Pray fervently every day for their safety and protection, for this is one very important way we all can support them in accomplishing their essential assignment of proclaiming the gospel to all the world. I bear testimony that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. We are engaged in his work. I testify that through the faith and prayers of all members of the Church, we will continue moving this great work forward to the final victory."
- M. Russell Ballard, "Duties, Rewards, and Risks," General Conference October 1989
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

President Ballard gave this talk a few months after two LDS missionaries serving in Bolivia were killed by a terrorist group. He discussed the risks inherent in missionary service, but also shared the vision of the sacred importance of those efforts and our need to prepare. Assassination at the hands of those who misunderstand us is only one of many risks we need to be aware of and prepare for; Elder Ballard testified that "the intensity of the battle for the souls of men will increase and the risks will become greater as we draw closer to the second coming of the Lord." In the face of those challenges, the need for preparation is greater than ever:

It would be good to consider what we are doing to prepare our children, and ourselves, to be more faithful servants in the Lord's work; and how we might increase and improve those efforts.

I also appreciated the reminder that we pray for the missionaries every day, supporting them and their labors with our faith. It's a good reminder of a significant way we can play a part in the Lord's ongoing work.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2018)

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