A Testimony of Missionary Work
Elder David J. Barnett
March 2005 Ensign
In John 15:12 the Savior gives the commandment to "love one another, as I have loved you." He then tells His disciples to "go and bring forth fruit" (v. 16) as an expression of that love. Such counsel applies to all of us: we show our love for the Savior and for others by "bringing forth fruit," which includes guiding souls to the gospel of Jesus Christ through missionary work.
Missionary work is a prominent theme in the Doctrine and Covenants. Throughout this book of scripture, the Lord admonishes His followers to proclaim the gospel, declaring that "the field is white already to harvest" (see, for example, D&C 4:4; 11: 3; 33:3, 7).
I am grateful for the influence of missionary work in my own life. I was born in England, and in 1960, at age 20, I left London to seek my fortune. I learned of the Church two years later in Yjtwe, northern Rhodesia (now Zambia), when I started courting the beautiful woman who later became my wife.
Before I married Norma, her father insisted that I meet the missionaries and be taught the gospel. I had always believed that the Godhead was composed of three separate personages, and this helped me understand and accept the First Vision. I had also always believed in fife after death. The doctrine that really had an impact on me was that of the premortal existence. When I was taught this by an Elder Hale, it sounded so obvious and logical that I wondered why I had never thought of it before. The more I learned of the gospel, the more everything seemed to fall into place. What a wonderful day it was when I was able to enter the waters of baptism and be confirmed a member of the true Church.
Many years later, I had the opportunity as an Area Authority Seventy to travel with my wife throughout many countries in Africa and to see the growth of the Church in these countries. Many have been affected by wars, famines, lack of employment, and other afflictions. Wars are still raging within the borders of some of these countries, and many people are suffering because of the "natural man" (Mosiah 3:19).
In South Africa in the early 1990s, when negotiations for change were taking place and many were praying for a peaceful outcome, Elder Richard P. Lindsay, who was Area President at the time, said at a regional conference, "The problems of Africa will only be overcome as more people join the Church." Since that day I have observed the truthfulness of that statement. Countries and communities will be more settled as families live gospel principles. That is one of the reasons we must do our part to introduce our friends and neighbors to the missionaries, who are set apart to teach the gospel.
I am thankful for the missionaries and the families of those who taught and helped me understand the love that God has for us. I know that as we do missionary work in whatever capacity we can, we obey the vital commandment to "love one another."
Elder David Barnett served as an Area Autbority Seventy from 2001 to 2004. He is currently president of the Poland Warsaw Mission.