I'm adding the notes I used for my talk in this post, more for my own record than for your reading. They are just notes, and may be hard to follow. Feel free to skip down to the pictures. It was a wonderful Sunday and amazing to have the chance to testify of my Savior on such a special day as Easter.
Good morning and Happy Easter everyone, last time I was up here was over Christmas break when I was asked to announce my mission call, and at that time this day seemed so far away that I would be up here giving my last talk before leaving on my mission. Last time I was asked to share where will be going to which is to Salvador Brazil, and today I’ve been asked to share on what I will be doing, which is testifying of Christ.
I want to first talk about the importance of testifying of Christ,
My Book of Mormon teacher said something this year that reminded me just how important it is that we are constantly remembering and testifying of Christ, he said “When asked to teach (or testify of) anything, if you can’t connect it the Atonement, then DON’T TEACH IT.” This is so vital to remember for teachers, for parents, and for me as I testify to the people of Brazil. Christ’s Atonement was the single most important event in history, everything is connected to it, and if we can’t find a way to connect it to it in our teaching, then we don’t fully understand. For an example of this we need look no further than the greatest teacher there ever was, Jesus Christ.
Everything that Christ taught us connects back to it.
He taught us to be baptized, to love one another, and to be like him, Christ testifies of himself and his Atonement in everything he does, and that is how we as disciples need to testify of him.
After Christ’s resurrection he visits the apostles on multiple occasions, the third visit is found in the 21 Chapter of John. At this point they haven’t been in his presence for a while and without knowing what else to do Peter and most of the others go back to their old lives as fishermen. As they are out fishing Christ appears on the shore, and as soon as Peter recognized that it is the Savior there speaking to them, he gets so excited that he jumps out of the boat and swims to shore to meet him, and the Savior feeds them. We read what happens next in John 21:15-16
¶So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.
He saith to him again the second time, Simon, of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, my sheep.
After this Jesus asks Peter for a third time, at this point he has asked Peter the same number of times that Peter had denied him not long earlier “lovest thou me?” After he had asked the question three times it said Peter grieved, and in his grief and confusion Peter replies “Lord, thou knowest all thing; thou knowest that I love thee.” And Jesus’ response is the same as before, he tells Peter, “Feed my sheep.” Through this Christ is teaching Peter a valuable lesson, he is teaching him that if he truly loves him, he is obligated to feed his sheep.
Matthew 22:37-39 teaches us that Thou shalt the Lord thy God with all thy , and with all thy soul, and with all thy .
From this we see that Peter had the first and great commandment figured out, the Lord knew that he loved him, what the Lord taught Peter in this instant was how to fulfill the second great commandment, to love thy neighbor as thyself, by feeding his sheep.
We can all feed his sheep in one way or another, the main way is by showing our love for others, reaching out to a person as a friend, as a neighbor, as a mentor, will help them feel the love of Christ in their life, and it will provide us an opportunity to testify of him.
The call to feed the Saviors sheep is an intimidating one at times, the Savior loves his sheep, and would not put them in them in the hands of just anyone, how are we to be trusted to feed his beloved sheep? We can be trusted because we have the good news of the gospel, and that is what each and every one of his sheep need the most, the knowledge that He dwelt on earth, atoned for our sins, and overcame death. There is truly nothing more necessary in a person’s life than that knowledge.
Hopefully I have made my point about how important it is to testify of Christ, and now I would like to discuss the “why”, why testify of Christ and why is it so important.
There is a quote in Preach My Gospel by President Howard W. Hunter that says, “Surely taking the gospel to every kindred, tongue, and people is the single greatest responsibility we have in mortality… We have been privileged to be born in these last days, as opposed to some earlier dispensation, to help take the gospel to all the earth.” I love this because he explains that taking the gospel to all the earth, and testifying of Christ is a privilege. Howard W. Hunter then says, “What does the Atonement have to do with missionary work? Any time we experience the blessings of the Atonement in our lives, we cannot help but have a concern for the welfare of others.” In this he explains that the blessings of the Atonement are what drive us to want to share those blessings we feel in our lives with others. When we feel the love of Christ in our lives, our love for others is magnified.
Because our appreciation of the Atonement is what makes us want to share it, I would like to share a quote that was once shared with me that helped my testimony and understanding of the Atonement grow Merrill J Bateman in his address titled “A Patter For All” said-
For many years I thought of the Savior’s experience in the garden and on the cross as places where a large mass of sin was heaped upon Him. Through the words of Alma, Abinadi, Isaiah, and other prophets, however, my view has changed. Instead of an impersonal mass of sin, there was a long line of people, as Jesus felt “our infirmities” (), “[bore] our griefs, … carried our sorrows … [and] was bruised for our iniquities”
What I have come to an understanding of is that it is so much more than many have gotten by thinking. He truly knows us perfectly, because of the Atonement there is no question that every person that has and will ever live on the earth and all of us here today each of your personal infirmities have been felt, each of your personal griefs have been born, each of your personal sorrows have been carried, and each and every one of your personal infirmities have been bruised for, by the Savior.
There is nothing in my life that I appreciate more than the comfort I get from this, and that is what makes me want to share it. I love the thought that by testifying of Christ, I can bring people unto him.
The story of Christ telling Peter to feed his sheep is so compelling to me because after Peter says “thou knowest all things, thou knowest that I love thee” Christs response of “feed my sheep” is the same as Christ saying to Peter, “prove it”.
When people who aren’t familiar with the idea of a missionary asks me why I am going on a mission, it gets me stuck every time. Because what I would like to say to them is not what they are expecting to hear, and not usually what I end up actually saying. I wish that they could understand that I received confirmation that it is something I need to do, and because everyone deserves to know that someone knows and loves them, and I’m going because if the Savior were to ask me, “lovest thou me?” I want to be able to say “Yea Lord; thou knowest that I love thee” and I don’t want there to be a question of whether I have proven that. And I know that serving a mission is a small way to prove that but it is important, because he has asked us to feed his sheep and I bear my testimony that the best way to feed his sheep is to testify of Christ, and that is exactly what I will be getting the opportunity to do for the next 18 months. And I am beyond excited.
And a quick word to the youth- when the time comes to decide if you would like to serve a mission, or even now, pray about it, I never thought it would be for me and that I would come to this decision, but it has already been the best decision of my life.
I wanted to end with a quick story and my testimony.
Last year, my testimony of Christ really grew a lot, I felt like I knew him better than ever, and I also went the whole school year without bearing my testimony, because of this on the last Sunday I got up and bore the testimony that I just wasn’t very proud of, and I couldn’t figure out why. And as I was sitting there after I realized that the reason my testimony didn’t feel right, was because not once in it, besides to close, did I mention the Savior. I felt so dumb, I wanted a redo! I didn’t get one, but I have made it a point, and plan on always making it a point to include the Savior in my testimony, because he is the foundation that it is built on.
When I was writing this I kept going to my Dad saying, “I’m sorry but everything I’m writing has to do with your topic!” (which is the atonement) and I would just like to say that I know
Can never go too deep
Are never alone
The fact that I will be testifying of Christ makes going on a mission in no way a sacrifice, but a great opportunity and blessing.