President Russell M. Nelson offered a memorable invitation during the October 2019 general conference, “I hope that every member and every family will prepare for a unique conference that will commemorate the very foundations of the restored gospel.”
Worldwide, youth have taken President Nelson’s invitation to heart. They are actively seeking revelatory experiences and are experiencing an awakening of knowledge and gratitude for the Prophet Joseph Smith’s First Vision, which ushered in the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ in these latter days.
While some of the youth mentioned below began this revelatory process just to prepare for general conference, all have experienced an increase in testimony and deeper gratitude for the gospel. Here are some of the ways their preparations have blessed and changed their lives.
Finding Joy in Missionary Work
In San Clemente, California, their ward’s desire to learn and share the gospel has encouraged the youth to learn truth for themselves. Bailey Butler, 16, has been inspired by praying for opportunities to share the story of Joseph Smith and the Restoration with her peers and teachers at school. She has had unforgettable discussions.
“The more I share the gospel,” she said, “the stronger my testimony of its truth grows.”
Their deepening conversion and love for missionary work has also been shared by the young women in the ward. Lillie Taylor, 17 (pictured in the banner photo) was recently baptized. Lillie explains: “I’ve experienced life without the restored gospel. I want to live the gospel in its fullness. This fuels my drive to read the scriptures, pray with a sincere heart and to follow the plan of salvation to draw closer to my Heavenly Father.”
Tyler Huefner, 17, baptized Lillie. His priest quorum is reading the Book of Mormon together and teaching one another the First Vision. Tyler said: “This experience has brought us closer while strengthening our testimonies. I know with all my heart that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God.”
Learning Church History
Youth in the Chorley England Stake are narrating and singing in their stake production titled, “Our Witness of the Restoration.” Naomi Cook, 18, describes the experience as transformative to her understanding and to her testimony. “The purpose of this production is to testify of Christ and the Restoration of His Church through music and the spoken word.”
As a narrator, some of her lines are direct quotations from President Nelson. “Through the Holy Spirit, I have gained a testimony that his words are true and have come from divine revelation,” said Naomi, who is now back in the habit of reading the Book of Mormon daily.
Another participant in the program, Liesl Cook, 16, explained that the Joseph Smith story teaches us that “we can all do great things, no matter who we are, how old we are or how much experience we have. If we have faith and seek God’s direction, our abilities and possibilities are endless.”
Grace Scott, 12, added her testimony of Joseph Smith. “He always stood for truth and never denied what he saw in the sacred grove, and for that I am forever grateful.”
Establishing Gospel Roots
In February 2020, the members of the Parcelles Branch in Senegal, Africa, celebrated the one-year anniversary of its organization. In preparation for general conference, they are teaching lessons about the mission of Joseph Smith.
Said 18-year-old Gabriel Wague: “Just like the Church was new in America during the time of Joseph Smith, the Church is new here in Senegal, so we can be pioneers like Joseph Smith by doing missionary work.”
Other youth in the branch are concentrating on learning the names, faces and stories of the living prophet and apostles. Timothé Ameké, 12, said he wants to learn about their lives and hopes he can “get to know them better” through his study.
Empowered by the Scriptures
This year’s “Come, Follow Me” study of the Book of Mormon is preparing the youth for the 200th anniversary of the First Vision. President Nelson invited us to ponder important questions, such as, “How would my life be different if my knowledge gained from the Book of Mormon were suddenly taken away?”
Eleven-year-old Coleman Jones from Corona, California, said: “The Book of Mormon gives us power: power to obey, power to resist, power to not be deceived. Many books are fun to read and help us learn, but the Book of Mormon helps us become stronger and better disciples of Christ.”
Becoming True Disciples
Diamond Cummings, 18, from Grenada in the eastern Caribbean said President Nelson’s invitation “is making a difference in my life by constantly challenging me to be a true disciple of Jesus Christ. I am sharing the gospel with my friends by giving them a copy of the Book of Mormon as a birthday gift and urging them to read and seek for God’s love as they read the book. Joseph Smith devoted his life to God, and that’s what I am striving to do.”
The youth around the world are answering the prophet’s call as they follow Nephi’s admonition to “go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded” (1 Nephi 3:7). These youth, along with countless others, are seeing the hand of the Lord in their lives, changing their hearts and minds, and easing their burdens.