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LDS members hear humanitarian report, encourage to study in General Conference Saturday evening session

By Genelle Pugmire - Special to the Standard-Examiner | Oct 2, 2021

President M. Russell Ballard, acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks at the Saturday evening session of conference on Oct. 2, 2021. (Courtesy Intellectual Reserve)

Speakers during the evening session of the 191st Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints taught how to not only seek Christ, but how to serve him.

Teaching to have faith to ask and then to act on it was the direction of President Henry B. Eyring, second counselor in the First Presidency.

“The way to receive revelation from God has not changed from the days of Adam and Eve. It has been the same for all called servants of the Lord from the beginning to the present day. It is the same for you and me. It is always done by exercising faith,” Eyring said.

“You have questions for which you seek answers. You have at least enough faith to hope that you will receive answers from the Lord through His servants,” he said. “You will not have the opportunity to ask aloud for answers from the speakers, but you can ask your loving Father in prayer.”

“If your faith in Jesus Christ has led to a heart softened through the effects of His Atonement, you will be more able to feel the whisperings of the Spirit in answer to your prayers,” Eyring added.

Asking, “Lovest thou me more than these?” M. Russell Ballard, acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles related Christ’s question to his disciples to today.

“Relating this question to ourselves in our day, the Lord may be asking us about how busy we are and about the many positive and negative influences competing for our attention and our time,” Ballard said. “He may be asking each of us if we love Him more than the things of this world. This may be a question about what we really value in life, who we follow and how we view our relationships with family members and neighbors. Or, maybe He is asking what really brings us joy and happiness.”

“At my age, I have attended many funerals. I am sure many of you have noticed what I have noticed. When celebrating the life of a deceased family member or friend, it is rare for a speaker to talk about the size of the person’s home, the number of cars, or bank account balances. They usually don’t speak about social media posts. At most funerals, they focus on their loved one’s relationships, service to others, life lessons and experiences and their love for Jesus Christ,” Ballard said.

“Heavenly Father so loved us that He prepared His plan of salvation with a Savior as the central figure. And Jesus so loved us that in the great council in Heaven, when Heavenly Father asked ‘Whom shall I send?’ Jesus, who was the Firstborn of all the Father’s spirit children, answered ‘Here am I, send me.'”

He said unto the Father, “Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever.” Jesus volunteered to be our Savior and Redeemer so that we could become like them and return to their presence, Ballard added.

“We must always remember that our true happiness depends upon our relationship with God, with Jesus Christ, and with each other,” Ballard said.

In a report to the First Presidency and the church, Sister Sharon Eubank, first counselor in the General Relief Society presidency noted the services that have been given in the past 18 months.

“The Church of Jesus Christ is under divine mandate to care for the poor. It is one of the pillars of the work of salvation and exaltation,” Eubank said.

The church responds to this charge in a wide variety of ways, including:

  • The ministering done through Relief Society, priesthood quorums, and classes.
  • Fasting and the use of fast offerings.
  • Welfare farms and canneries.
  • Welcome centers for immigrants.
  • Outreach for those in prison.
  • Church humanitarian efforts.
  • And the JustServe app, which matches volunteers with service opportunities.

“At President Nelson’s direction, I am reporting back to you about how The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is responding to hurricanes, earthquakes, refugee displacement — and even a pandemic — thanks to the kindness of the Latter-day Saints and many friends,” Eubank said.

While the more-than-1,500 COVID-19 projects were certainly the largest focus of the church’s relief over the last 18 months, the church also responded to 933 natural disasters and refugee crises in 108 countries.

Elder Brent H. Nielson, in the Presidency of the Seventy said the Savior’s Atonement, which makes available both his redeeming and His enabling power, is the ultimate blessing that Jesus Christ offers to all.

“As we repent with full purpose of heart, the Savior cleanses us from sin. As we cheerfully submit our will to the Father, even in the most difficult of circumstances, the Savior will lift our burdens and make them light,” Nielson said.

Elder Anulfo Valenzuela of the Seventy asked members, “What are some of the things that we would do if our souls delighted in the scriptures?”

Our desire to be part of the Gathering of Israel on both sides of the veil will increase, he noted. “We will be worthy, and we will have a current temple recommend in order to go to the temple as often as possible. We will work to find, prepare, and submit the names of our ancestors to the temple. We will be faithful in keeping the Sabbath Day, attending church every Sunday to renew our covenants with the Lord as we participate worthily in taking the sacrament. We will resolve to remain on the covenant path, living by every word that proceeds forth from the mouth of God.”

Life is like a cross-country road trip, said Brother Bradley Wilcox, second counselor in the Young Men’s General Presidency.

“We can’t reach our destination on one tank of gas. We must refill the tank over and over. Taking the sacrament is like pulling into the gas station. As we repent and renew our covenants, we pledge our willingness to keep the commandments and God and Christ bless us with the Holy Spirit. In short, we promise to press forward on our journey and God and Christ promise to refill the tank,” Wilcox added.

He noted that some mistakenly receive the message that they are not worthy to participate fully in the gospel because they are not completely free of bad habits, adding God’s message that worthiness is not flawlessnes.

“Worthiness is being honest and trying. We must be honest with God, priesthood leaders, and others who love us and we must strive to keep God’s commandments and never give up just because we slip up,” Wicox said.

To be a follower of Christ is to strive to conform our actions, conduct and lives to those of the Savior, according to Elder Alfred Kyungu of the Seventy.

“It is to acquire virtues. It is to be a true disciple of Jesus Christ. I have studied some aspects of the Savior’s life and I have retained, as part of my message today, four of His qualities that I try to imitate and that I share with you,” Kyungu said.

The first quality of the Savior is humility; the second quality of the Savior is courage; the third quality of the Savior is forgiveness; and the fourth quality of the Savior is sacrifice,” Kyungu explained.

He then took each of the four qualities and gave personal examples and scriptural teaching to support his message.

Elder Marcus Nash, of the Seventy said he has experienced the blessings of sharing the gospel, and they are remarkable.

He said that sharing the gospel brings God’s power into individual’s lives, sharing the gospel protects us from temptation and sharing the gospel brings healing.

“Brothers and sisters, there are many among ‘all parties, sects, and denominations … who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it.’ The need to hold up our light has never been greater in all human history. And the truth has never been more accessible — whether it be online, in person, or through social media,” Nash said.

“My invitation today is simple: share the gospel. Be you and hold up the light …” he concluded.

Music for the Saturday evening session of conference was provided by a mixed choir from Brigham Young University.

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