By Elder Don R. Clarke
Of the Seventy
The Lord is preparing people all around us—where we work, where we live, where we travel, on the buses we take, and in the restaurants we patronize.
Learning to Share the Gospel
When my wife and I were in graduate school in Washington state, a speaker challenged us to follow President Spencer W. Kimball’s admonition to be active member missionaries. During that talk I felt a strong impression to invite my good friend Garry Borders to hear the missionary discussions. As soon as the meeting ended, I rushed home to tell Mary Anne about my impressions, and together we prayed that Garry would accept our invitation. He did, and he eventually joined the Church.
Garry’s conversion marked the beginning of a great friendship and a lifetime of missionary experiences for our family. Our experiences with Garry and with many others with whom we have shared the gospel have given me a firm testimony of something the Prophet Joseph Smith taught: “After all that has been said, the greatest and most important duty is to preach the Gospel.” 1
As our family has accepted the opportunity to share the gospel, we have learned a few principles about missionary work that have been helpful in our efforts as member missionaries.
Why Do Missionary Work?
President David O. McKay, quoted in Preach My Gospel, said: “True Christianity is love in action. There is no better way to manifest love for God than to show an unselfish love for your fellow men. This is the spirit of missionary work.” 2 Sharing the gospel is the best way to love our neighbors. It is also a way of showing our appreciation and love to the Son of God.
While Sister Clarke and I were serving in Bolivia, a homesick missionary arrived who did not like anything about the country. He did not like the food, the weather, or his living conditions.
“I’m going home,” he soon declared.
“Give it four weeks,” I responded.
After some discussion we finally agreed on two weeks. In those two weeks, a miracle happened. He still did not like the food, the weather, or his living conditions, but he had come to love a Bolivian family he had met. He stayed and became a wonderful missionary.
I have observed hundreds of other missionaries discover, as this young missionary did, that their happiness grows when they learn to love the people they serve more than they love themselves. I believe this is true for all of us. As we learn to love our neighbors, we find it easier to share gospel blessings with them. As we do so, we find greater happiness in our lives. Missionary work is about love; if we love others, we will share the gospel with them.
The Lord Is Preparing His Children
“There are many yet on the earth … who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it” (D&C 123:12). The Lord is preparing people all around us—where we work, where we live, where we travel, on the buses we take, and in the restaurants we patronize.
A few years ago Sister Clarke and I returned to Argentina, where I had served as a young missionary. Before we traveled, I reviewed in my diary the names and circumstances of the people my companions and I had taught and baptized. In reviewing my list, I discovered that we had found about half of those individuals while contacting people on the street. We talked to everyone. Because the Lord knew that we would talk to everyone on the street, He placed His prepared sons and daughters in our path.
The Lord blessed us greatly. Many of those converts became missionaries, bishops, or district presidents, and one even became a patriarch. I have seen this miracle again and again. The Lord has prepared people to receive us. Can He trust us to open our mouths? If so, He will place prepared people in our path. “Yea, I will open the hearts of the people, and they will receive you. And I will establish a church by your hand” (D&C 31:7).
The scriptures are full of invitations to repent, be baptized, and