During my time in the Canada Toronto Mission, I had the opportunity to serve in the Scarborough area. It was mid-summer in the year of 2020, and we were in an extensive lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We were meeting online with quite a few friends who were interested in learning more about the fullness of Christ’s Gospel. One of them, for the purpose of this account, I will call Jackie. She was a devout Christian and had been meeting with the missionaries for quite some time. When I arrived in Scarborough, she had already been taught many of the missionary lessons through one-on-one Bible studies.
Praying for Guidance
According to my companion, Jackie was hesitant of having discussions about the doctrine of the Restoration of the gospel and the role of Joseph Smith. We prayed and counselled as we continued to meet with her.
We decided to begin from scratch, so to speak. We reviewed the plan of salvation through the Bible, and things went very well. Jackie began attending our online devotionals where we discussed the ideas in Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families: Book of Mormon 2020. She even accepted a copy of the Book of Mormon, which she had been quite opposed to previously. We gently introduced scripture references from the Book of Mormon into our discussions, and she even began reading it. She viewed the Book of Mormon as only another testament of Christ, however, and not as evidence of a restoration.
Our wish was for her to gain a testimony that Jesus is at the head of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. By becoming a member of His restored Church, she could find the complete and eternal truths and blessings of Christ’s gospel.
We were also frustrated with her lukewarm reception of Moroni’s promise regarding the teachings in the Book of Mormon, “If ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost” (Moroni 10:4). We continued to ponder and pray, desiring to teach about the Restoration, but we felt prompted against that particular lesson.
Make Jesus Christ the Core of Every Missionary Lesson
Then we had a virtual Canada Toronto Mission Conference with Elder John A. McCune (General Authority Seventy) and Sister Debbra Ellen McCune. They strongly emphasised the importance of ensuring that Jesus Christ is the very core of every lesson that missionaries teach. Though obvious as a principle, this direction struck us deeply.
My companion and I contemplated this counsel thoroughly. I decided to make a Christ-centred statement for every principle in the missionary lessons outlined in chapter three “What Do I Study and Teach” of Preach My Gospel. Writing those statements was in itself a truly faith-promoting experience for me personally. I recognised more consciously and clearly that everything in the scriptures and the words of modern prophets point to Christ and reveal truths about Him.
As this project was nearing its completion, we had a meeting with Jackie. By this point we had worked tirelessly to help her recognise that through the power of the Holy Ghost she could learn the truth, know God’s plan, and understand Christ’s gospel (see Moroni 10:5). We had started quoting scriptures from the Book of Mormon in our Bible studies, which she was only now comfortable discussing. We prayerfully decided that we would invite her to view a video lesson about “The Message of the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
We were nervous that Jackie would not end up joining the video call, as this had been a pattern of hers whenever we had previously tried to teach this lesson. Our fears were allayed as we saw her face appear on the screen. We proceeded with a prayer and learned that she was continuing to read the Book of Mormon that we gave her.
Thrilled at this excellent beginning, we commenced with the lesson we had re-entitled “The Restoration of the Fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ”: keeping our standard of having all our lessons completely Christ-centred. It was the most powerful lesson that I have had the privilege to participate in thus far into my service as a missionary. The communication between Jackie and us was clear-cut and open; my companion and I were unequivocally unified in our teaching; and Jackie seemed to understand that we were adding to her understanding of Jesus Christ. What is of utmost importance—the Holy Ghost was most palpably present (see Doctrine and Covenants 42:14).
Our desire was fulfilled. Jackie gained a testimony of Jesus Christ and His restored gospel. In my opinion one of the reasons why this process took so long is because we needed to build a stronger connection of trust with Jackie as a friend. Next, we were taught to take inspired counsel and prepare in a specific Christ-centred way. From this experience, I learned that the power of conversion comes not by teaching individual doctrines and principles but by focusing all lessons on Christ. We must be converted to Him as our Savior. I also know that Heavenly Father is aware of when people are ready to gain personal witnesses of the truthfulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and He will give us the revelatory instruction necessary to accomplish His purposes.