On June 3, 2018, President Russell M. Nelson and his wife, Wendy W. Nelson, invited the youth to “enlist in the youth battalion of the Lord” and take part in “the greatest challenge, the greatest cause, and the greatest work on earth.”
And what is the greatest challenge? The gathering of Israel.
“My dear extraordinary youth, you were sent to earth at this precise time, the most crucial time in the history of the world, to help gather Israel,” the prophet said. “There is nothing happening on this earth right now that is more important than that. There is nothing of greater consequence. Absolutely nothing. This gathering should mean everything to you. This is the mission for which you were sent to earth.”
Many of those youth listening to that broadcast in 2018 are now serving missions. Many of them are with us in the Ghana Kumasi Mission.
We have mentioned before that when Elder & Sister Klebingat were here they spoke to the missionaries about the pre-mortal existence, the House of Israel including the scattering and now the gathering. The missionaries loved what he taught them and I began to realize that the history of the House of Israel is not well known or understood. So when I was assigned a 25 minute training block at the Dichemso Stake Conference leadership meeting last Saturday, I decided to speak on this very topic. My assignment was to help increase temple and family history work as well as missionary work. I felt that the only thing I could talk about that would cover both areas would be this charge that we all have right now to gather Israel on both sides of the veil. President Nelson has stated that anytime we help anyone on this side of the veil or the other side of the veil make or keep a covenant, we are gathering Israel. With that simple definition, it seems appropriate to focus our work, our testimonies, our trainings and our talks on this important topic of gathering Israel. And so it was.
In preparing for the discussion, I discovered that President Nelson has been speaking about the gathering of Israel for a very long time. In addition, I found these two quotes that I think are profound:
“The House of Israel is a group of souls tested, tried, and proven before they were born into the world….Through this lineage were to come the true and tried souls that had demonstrated their righteousness in the spirit world before they came here.” – Elder Melvin J. Ballard – Quorum of the Twelve Apostles 1919 – 1939
”Once we know who we are and the royal lineage of which we are a part, our actions and directions in life will be more appropriate to our inheritance.” – Elder Russell M. Nelson – 1998
After discussing the Abrahamic Covenant and our access to the blessing coming only through the sealing ordinance of the Temple, I shared two stories from our experience in Sierra Leone. The first was of Sister Messie and the work she did in Tongo along with Br. Kongoley to create a strong branch which now has about 100 members. I also shared the story of Morrison Nabieu in Kailahun that nearly single-handedly created a branch there that has now grown into two branches and more than 225 members. For Family History, I shared the story of Bernard Laundeh and how he gathered more than 300 temple ordinances for 70 of his ancestors through a miracle that happened in the village where he was born when his half-brother showed up causing his grandmother to willingly share all she knew about the family. The point was that this is the Lord’s work and not ours, but we must do our part. As we engage with faith in Jesus Christ, miracles happen in big ways. But we have to begin and we have to believe we can make a difference.
So all of this information and preparation about the gathering of Israel was on my mind as I continued to do missionary interviews. One of these interviews was so special and so sacred, that I share it here without names or dates to maintain the sacredness of the event. It was with an elder, who I asked at the end of our interview if he would like a priesthood blessing. He responded with a simple “Yes”.
As I laid my hands on his head and began the blessing, I saw him in the pre-mortal existence. In the closing moments of the war in heaven, he was hurrying about, talking to as many people as he could to persuade them to follow Jesus Christ rather than Satan. He was absolutely relentless in saving as many as he could. I had never even considered that there was “missionary work” going on in the closing moments of battle as perhaps many worked tirelessly to convince their brothers and sisters to follow the Father’s Plan at the last possible moment. I felt inspired to tell him there were some now on the earth that had come solely because of his efforts. We were both completely overcome by the spirit and the tears flowed freely. It was an experience I will never forget as long as I live. I learned something new about what happened in our pre-mortal life so very long ago. Oh how I know this work is the Lord’s work. I see his hand continually in the work we are doing. Truly we are gathering Israel in preparation for the Lord’s return.
A week of interviews
This week was filled with interviews and a visit to the Kronum District out in Suame but part of the Dichemso Zone for District Council on Tuesday. We were so impressed with the unity and spirit of that district! On Wednesday we were Dichemso Stake Center for interviews and on Thursday we were in University. I love these interviews with these dedicated servants who are working hard to be Finders of the Elect and disciples of Jesus Christ.
More than anything, we love the smiles on the faces of these missionaries. They are happy because they are doing the Lord’s will and doing it with obedience and love. We are so grateful for all of them. They are powerful emissaries of Jesus Christ, carrying His message to all who are prepared to hear the Doctrine of Christ.
This weekend we participated in the Dichemso Stake Conference. It is actually a nice break for us, going to a conference and not having to worry about presiding over it. As mentioned above, I spoke in the leadership session and we both spoke in the Saturday Adult Session and Sunday General Session. In the adult session, LaDawn talked about becoming a disciple and I spoke on the iterative nature of the Doctrine of Christ. I was especially focused on helping anyone on the covenant path feeling “stuck” and not progressing. On Sunday, LaDawn spoke about Mormon and his example as a disciple of Jesus Christ. I spoke about ordinances and covenants and the importance of receiving all 5 of the saving ordinances of the gospel.
The visiting authority was Elder Solomon Aliche from Nigeria. It was wonderful to be with him and be taught by him. He is a powerful Area Authority. The entire conference was well done and spirit filled. We loved being with these strong Latter-day Saints. We even had a chance to see Sister Appiah, one of the full time missionaries we served with in Sierra Leone. We regret not taking a picture with her.
Here in Ghana, the Gathering of Israel is in progress in a very big way. There is more work going on this side of the veil than the other, but there is a concerted effort by the leadership of the Area, Stakes, Wards, Districts and Branches to change that. There is so much work that needs to be done and we are grateful to work with a modern day Army of Helaman as we battle the distractions of the world and find the elect and bring them to the covenant path, Together in Ghana.