My wife and I often find ourselves discussing our two teenage daughters and their future: educational options, desires to serve missions, and protection from the wickedness that surrounds us. Are we doing enough to help them develop their own testimonies? Are they having opportunities to identify and feel the Holy Ghost? Do they see the hand of God in their lives like we do?
I am sure these concerns are common among parents. As is often the case, the scriptures provide meaningful guidance that resonates in today’s chaotic and confusing world. Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families for July 1-7 recommends that we read and record our impressions of Acts 1-5. These chapters explain how God’s kingdom on earth operates, how Christ leads His Church through Prophets and Apostles, and how the Holy Ghost guides us on our journey.
Acts of Apostles
I can only imagine what it must have been like for Peter, James, John, and the other eight Apostles to spend 40 days with the resurrected Savior. While on my mission, I spent two different afternoons with Elder Neal A. Maxwell and Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin.
In each instance, I was awestruck. Their physical presence was unpretentious. Their counsel was life changing. I hung on to every word they said. Their charge for us to be better missionaries was inspiring.
In Acts 1:2-9 Luke provided a very succinct account of what Jesus told His Brethren on His last day among them. He counselled that they wait in Jerusalem until “the Holy Ghost is come upon you” (Acts 1:8). Then, they witnessed Christ’s Ascension (Acts 1:9).
Afterwards, two angels explained that Jesus “shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). This prophecy is still significant. Like these first Apostles, you and I are obligated to prepare the world for the return of the Saviour. Our preparation starts with ourselves, then our family, our ward, and to the world beyond. Those of us who are to save the human family are few in number.
It seems it has always been so. When Peter returns to Jerusalem for “prayer and supplication, with the women,” they were in number about “an hundred and twenty” (Acts 1:14-15). This humble beginning for the Church struck me. After so many miracles, thousands fed by so few fishes and so many healed, how could so few remain? Again, my thoughts turned to my family. We have also seen the Lord work with us and those we love. Are our testimonies strong enough to be numbered among the believers?
Guidance from the Holy Ghost
The departure of the Saviour brought many significant changes into the lives of the Apostles. They were the mortal face of the Church of Jesus Christ, and they had the authority to govern it. How daunting. Surely, these mortal men felt some sense of inadequacy as most of us do in our callings. Ten days later, Jesus bestowed one of His greatest gifts—the Holy Ghost was given to them as a guide, testator, voice of warning, and comforter.
To help my “Come Follow Me” studies, I often consult the institute manuals. In one, Elder Parley P Pratt explained, “The gift of the Holy Ghost quickens all the intellectual faculties, increases, enlarges, expands, and purifies all the natural passions and affections, and adapts them, by the gift of wisdom, to their lawful use. It inspires, develops, cultivates, and matures all the fine-toned sympathies, joys, tastes, kindred feelings, and affections of our nature. It inspires virtue, kindness, goodness, tenderness, gentleness and charity” (Key to Science of Theology , 61).
The day of Pentecost was a great Mosaic feast celebrating the harvest. This annual festival brought thousands of pilgrims to Jerusalem. It was at this event that we glimpse the converting power of the Holy Ghost. The Apostles taught, and many were “pricked in their heart” (Acts 2:37).
“Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls” (Acts 2:41). Despite humble beginnings, the harvest of souls continues today.
Reading these passages reminds me how crucial the Holy Ghost is. If we want to help our families, “save [themselves] from this untoward generation” (Acts 2:40), then we need to heed the counsel of our Church leaders and develop a relationship with the Holy Ghost. For it is “by the power of the Holy Ghost [we] may know the truth of all things” (Moroni 10:5).
An Experience with the Gift of Tongues
In 1994, I was called to serve in the Thailand Bangkok Mission. This came as a big surprise. From grades 1-12, I attended a French immersion program. In high school, I studied German and lived in Germany for three months. I had assumed I would be called to serve in Western Europe. In accepting my call to Asia, I was excited to learn a new language and to experience a vastly different culture.
Thai is a “tonal” language. For instance, the word “maa” has five different meanings: depending on how you change the pitch and influx of your voice. I spent months slaughtering the beautiful language. Instead of saying Joseph Smith received a heavenly manifestation in “the woods” (Joseph Smith—History 1:14), I boldly testified that he walked into a quiet “bar.” Thankfully, I slowly improved.
One day I found myself on a hot bus in the bustling city of Bangkok. My companion and I never sat together, so that we could talk with Thai passengers. I began a conversation with an older lady who lived in an outlying area where we did not have missionaries. Before she got off the bus, I gave her a pamphlet listing all of our meetinghouses and contact information for the mission, along with a pamphlet about the Prophet Joseph.
Some months later, I was attending the Mothers’ Day activities at the Asoke chapel. A member I knew approached me and asked my companion and me to follow her to a closed classroom door. The door had a window, and this sister asked me to look and see if I knew anyone. I recognized a few sisters in the room. Then, she pointed to a beautiful older lady in the corner of the room who was happily chatting with another sister. Suddenly it struck me. This was the same lady I had spoken to months earlier on the bus!
I learned that after she arrived at her home, she called the mission home and asked that more “young white boys” come and teach her about Joseph Smith and the Church. President Corriveau sent missionaries to her, and she and several members of her family joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. That night she and I shared many tears of joy (and admittedly a brief tender hug). I often think back on this experience. It teaches me how privileged we are to take part in sharing the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.
Continuing as Witnesses of Jesus Christ
We live in a time when many people consider our beliefs foolish and out-dated. So much of what the world considers to be acceptable and desirable, we know to be spiritually destructive, immoral, and base. Peter and John were condemned for their teachings and were soon imprisoned. Angels freed them, and they courageously testified: 'We ought to obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him” (Acts 5:29-32).
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints exists to save this 'untoward generation' (Acts 2:40). The Saviour leads His Church through His Prophet, and we also have The Holy Ghost to help guide each of us. I am so profoundly grateful for these truths and for the opportunities that we as members have to continue as witnesses of the divinity of Jesus Christ.