Two Special Witnesses of Christ Share How Pioneers Inspire Ongoing Faith and Sacrifice

Mississippi River

The March 30-April 12, 2020 Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families suggests watching the video series Special Witnesses of Christ discussing “what they teach us about what the Savior has done for us.” As you view the videos by Elder Neil L. Andersen and Elder Ronald A. Rasband, notice the locations and imagery included in the videos and ponder how they affected your thoughts and memories. Listen for inspiring words and phrases about the gospel of Jesus Christ and consider ways to relate their words to yourself and your family. Ask questions, listen to the Spirit, and record your impressions in a personal journal. Discuss your insights with family, friends, and neighbors. You may want to try some of the “activities to consider” related to each Apostle’s testimony.

Elder Neil L. Andersen

Elder Andersen: Nauvoo Pioneer Lessons

Elder Andersen speaks from historic and sacred sites in Nauvoo, Illinois. In 1839 thousands of members of The Church of Jesus Christ fled an extermination order issued by the governor of Missouri to swamp lands along the Mississippi River. There they built a beautiful city with a magnificent House of the Lord. After only seven years, however, persecution, the martyrdom of Joseph Smith, and threats again prompted more than ten thousand men, women, and children to abandon their homes and embark on a pilgrimage toward an unknown promised land.

Trek West

They firmly believe what Jesus once had said to his disciples: “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24).

Review some of the key statements Elder Andersen makes about what we can learn from these pioneer Latter-day Saints:

  • “Deep spiritual truths do not come to us without us replacing the glitter and temptations of the world with more meaningful thoughts and purposes. They do not come without sacrifice.”

  • “Here in Nauvoo, the faith of every man and woman was put to the test.”

  • “How thankful I am for their unselfishness, for their love of God above all else, and for their willingness to prepare the way for their posterity and for all of us who would follow.”

  • “I have not sacrificed nor suffered as the Latter-day Christians driven from Nauvoo, but I have understood the Savior’s clear instruction that we are to offer as our sacrifice a broken heart and a contrite spirit.”

Elder Rasband

Elder Rasband: Handcart Pioneer Lessons

In offering his testimony, Elder Rasband’s heart is turned to thoughts of his ancestors (see Malachi 4:6). His great-grandmother, Sarah Elizabeth Moulton, was a member of the ill-fated Willie Handcart Company. She, her parents, and seven younger siblings endured extreme physical and spiritual trials, but they gained “the absolute knowledge that God lives for we became acquainted with him in our extremities” (see: James E. Faust, “The Refiner’s Fire,” Ensign, May 1979). Elder Rasband is “forever grateful for the heritage they left behind—a legacy of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.”


Review some of the key statements Elder Rasband makes about what we can learn from these handcart pioneers:

  • “Can we imagine, day after day, the blistered feet and hands, the sore muscles, the dust and grit, the sunburns, flies and mosquitoes, the ever-dwindling food stores, and scarcity of water?”
  • “As rescuers finally reached the Willie camp, they were greeted with indescribable joy and gratitude from the frozen and starving Saints.”
  • “This great heritage of faith and endurance lives on in the generations that have followed the pioneers, by their descendants, as well as those who have been touched by the incredible devotion to a cause greater than themselves.”
  • “As modern pioneers, our personal journeys may be no less daunting, but we are creating a heritage of faith for those who will follow us.”

Activities to Consider:

  • Many members are aware that in 1856 many rescuers responded to a call from President Brigham Young to save the Willie and Martin pioneer groups from physical death. What may not be as widely known is that in the 1990’s a second rescue was organized in the Riverton Wyoming Stake: “when saving ordinances of the temple were performed for many of them and the monuments to their sacrifice were erected at historic sites” (“President Hinckley, President Faust Honor Pioneers,” Ensign, Aug. 2001). Plan your own “second rescue” activity that involves family history research and temple ordinances being performed for your ancestors.
  • Discuss with ways that you, your family, or other groups can create “a heritage of faith for those who will follow us.” You may want to record a personal history. You might donate time, service, or money to a humanitarian effort. You may want to read Daren Heyland’s article “JustServe Assists New Families in Lethbridge” at