The Power of One
Devotional or Speech given at
Brigham Young University-Hawaii
November 8, 2011
President John C. Dalton
Aloha my brothers and sisters, we are so delighted to be here today. As Sister Dalton mentioned, we've been married, for 45 years, and I love Sister Dalton. It's interesting thought that she and I have never served together in a church capacity other than about 2 months when we taught the Sun-Beam class as co-teachers. I have to tell you, it was probably the toughest church assignment I have ever had. And now we get to serve, and I'm blessed to serve with her as my companion, as companions, in this wonderful endeavor. We're honored to be here with some of our former missionaries who have served so well and we're grateful for each of you and particularly for them. It seems like because we never serve together, that we're involved in a church that seals us for life or for eternity and then separates us for life. I've been trying to figure that out but we're so delighted to be here. After I have spoken, Sister Dalton often puts a hand on my shoulder and say, "Dear, remember that after you speak the audience might not be a great deal wiser, but they will in fact be a great dear older." So I will try to be brief in my comments and hopefully what I'm going to say will be meaningful to you. I have focused lately on the value of each one of us, on the value of one in the eyes of our Heavenly Father who knows us and who loves us; who expects tremendous things from each of us, and who know us by name.
Recently I've read that demographers have said that there are now seven million people on the Earth, I'm not sure how they figure that out, but as I thought about that concept I've thought about Father, who doesn't look at the Earth as seven billion people, but looks at at each one of us, loves us and expects such great things from us no matter where we live and no matter what our circumstances.
I look at the wonderful young people here today, remembering a time when Sister Dalton and I were your age in great anticipation as you go through school about what the world and what life will offer you, I will tell you that life is good, that life is optimistic, no matter what you hear or read. I recall Ezra Taft Benson saying it in this way several years ago,
"For nearly six thousand years,God has held you in reserve tomake your appearance in the final days before the Second Coming. Every previous gospel dispensation has drifted into apostasy, but ours will not. ... God has saved for the final inning some of his strongest children, who will help bear off the kingdom triumphantly. And that is where you come in, for you are the generation that must be prepared to meet your God. ... Make no mistake about it: you are a marked generation. There has never been more expected of the faithful in such a short period of time as there is of us."
As you consider your life and as I consider mine, many "ones" have made an impact; obviously the savior Jesus Christ and his atonement for me and for you, the prophet Joseph Smith being the instrument through which the restoration has been restored, all of his successors, my mother and father, sister Dalton, her mother and father my children and my grandchildren; they have all left such a great impression on me because of their "onenes"' and because of their attitude. In history many have also made an impression on me. I love Winston Churchill whom many of you know is a predominant figure for the war years in England and throughout Europe. Winston Churchill, in 1940, said this to the people of England, picture very discouraging times in England, especially in London, while the German air force was bombing, and hops to bring the English people into submission, but he said this to the English people,
"To every man there comes that special moment when he is figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered the chance to do a special thing, unique to him and fitted to his talent, what a tragedy if that moment finds him unprepared or unqualified for the work which would be his finest hour."
I've thought of the Savior in one of his hours in the garden of gethsemane as he petitioned with Father of his disciples and he spoke about the one, in John that great intercessory prayer, we read in John 17, starting in verse 20, "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be cone in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me."
In the D&C we read about the value and the importance of one where a heavenly messenger spoke to the prophet Joseph as to words the savor had said, "I will gathertogether in one all things, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth," (D&C 27:13). In D&C 35:2, we read, "I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who was crucified for the sins of the world, even as many as will believe on my name, that they may become the sons of God, even done in me as I am one in the Father, as the Father is one in me, that we may be one." And then a scripture we are all very familiar with in D&C 18, verses 15 and 16, "And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father! And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me!"
I'm talking about the power of one, the individual, all of us combined in our oneness and greatness. In speaking about this I'd like to try a little experiment if I may, will all of the missionaries in the congregation please stand. Now, many of you will remember President David O. McKay was so instrumental in this wonderful university in saying that "every member is a missionary' now I want you to visualize in your mind who the very first person in your posterity, in your family tree that joined the church. It could be you, it could be mom and dad, it could be many generations back; visualize that one person and now ask yourself this question, "how has that first member of the church affected your life and your posterity?' In considering that, consider the growth of the church, the fact that we're asked to move the work forward one by one [you may all be seated].
I've been told that in a meeting just before President Hinckley died, consisting of the first presidency, all of the twelve, and all the general authorities that were assigned to Salt Lake City. President Packer was conducting the meeting and it was opened up for a question and answer period. One of the general authorities asked this question, I wouldn't have done it, but he did, he said, "President Packer, President Hinckley said, that by the year two thousand we would have one-hundred operating temples and we do, but President Hinckley also said in 1995 in his great missionary discourse that with concerted effort, recognition of our duty, and sincere prayer, we could double the baptisms of this church, and we're not even close, could you respond to that President Packer?" President Hinckley bounded up out of his chair, from what I understand, and stood right next to President Packer and said "President would you mind if I answered that question?" and this is all that President Hinckley in his amicable style and directness said, "When the faith of the members and leaders of this church matches the vision of this prophet we'll double baptisms." And his sat down. I don't think there were any other questions posed regarding missionary work after that moment.
President Joseph Smith, declared, "After all that has been said the greatest and most important duty is to preach the gospel."
I've often asked, what holds us back from talking to our friends and our neighbors about speaking to the missionaries? It's that four letter word we call fear, or we feel we may be rejected. Well, how are they going to feel about us after we present them with the opportunity to be taught by our missionaries? As I think about rejection I'm reminded of a story about what occurred in Rome, Italy many years ago. Many years ago when in an airport one had to pay an exit tax to get out of the particular area. There was a young missionary that was returning home and four other missionaries accompanied him to the Rome airport. They needed a dollar for the exit tax and he didn't have it, nor did the missionaries who accompanied him; that sounds familiar. The young missionary went up to two sisters who were waiting for a flight, that were serving in another religion, and he said to them, "Sisters I'm trying to get back to the United States and I don't have a dollar for the exit tax, I'd like to know if you would you loan me the dollar." The one sister looked at him and said, "Do you mean if I give you a dollar, you'll go back to the United States?" And he said "Absolutely." She pulled out a five dollar bill and said "Here's a five dollar bill, and take your four friends with you."
We feel that way don't we? We feel like if we present our message, the message that blesses our life, and our children and our posterity's life more than anything else in the world, it's going to be offensive, it's going to be rejected, and how will our friends feel about us afterword.
The church has a very extensive survey division, they do surveys on everything, and numerous years ago there was a survey done and the question was posed, "How do member missionary's efforts look to our friends?' You may be interested in some of the conclusions to this survey as it applies to fear and rejection. The premise of this survey is this: (this was in the United States and Canada) member missionary efforts with friends usually results in positive outcomes; for example, approximately half the time that members invite their friends to meet with the missionaries, the friends accept the invitation. And even among the 50% who decline, four out of five report that they might favorably respond if they were invited to other activities. It goes on to say that weather or not the friends accept the invitation, the relationships with your friends remains the same, or tends even to get better. There goes the fear. There goes the anticipation of talking to someone because your friends are going to stay the same and that friendship may even increase as they feel your spirit in presenting a gospel message to them. The survey also indicated that about 25% of the time that we invite our friends to some church activity that they have no idea that they've even been invited. We're so nebulous, we're not bold, we're not direct, so you must keep that in mind so your friends know exactly what you're saying.
Finally, an interesting conclusion was this: researchers found that when invitations are declined it does not mean that your friend is necessarily opposed to continued member missionary efforts however, the report says, that members often fail to follow up with continued friendships and efforts, so if you were to say, "President Dalton I'm fearful of talking to my friends,' I don't buy it, because half the time they are going to accept and four out of five times are going to accept if giving the opportunity on another occasion.
Elder Oaks several years ago spoke in the Missionary Training Center, he talked about the role of members in conversion. The question posed was "How do we find people to become baptized?' Elder Oaks said, "When we investigated the sources for investigators who participated in first discussions, we found the following order of productivity," of course the missionaries, most people who took the first discussions were found by missionaries, but then he said this, "the profile is very different, however, when we study the sources for investigators who are baptized, 59% of investigators who were baptized started investigating the Church because a member had invited them to be taught or had given their name to the missionaries as a referral. In other words, most teaching opportunities come from the missionaries' own contacting, but most convert baptisms come from the members' efforts." Of investigators found though members 20-30% were 10 times more were baptized then where our young missionaries go door to door in what we used to call, and still call, tracting. In our mission, 80% of the converts on average have been referred to by members, so we know in this mission how important you are in this great effort.
How do we do it? How do we go about it? What do we say? One thought is to ask yourself, "is someone asking me a question on curiosity or genuine interest?" One of the problems we sometimes have is someone will ask one question and we take them from A-Z on the gospel principles until they are dying of boredom and all they want to know is one question. For example, they could ask, "Are Mormons Christians?" answer: yes. Done. But if they say, "Tell me doctrinally why you consider yourself Christian." They ask a more detailed question, so give them a more detailed response. That is mere curiosity or genuine interest.
Sister Dalton and I come out of Southern California and we love the Angels, we didn't love them very much last year, but we generally love them. We have season tickets to see them. Am I hesitant to give away tickets to see them? No, because I love the Angels, I know my friends are going to enjoy watching a game so there's no hesitation on giving of something I love. We love the gospel, should there be hesitation to offer it? Obviously no. You speak about something that is of interest to them, talk to them about what is of interest to them. Now, invite them to an event, here in this wonderful area, it would be luau, a party, or a service project, then maybe look around and make sure that no one is sitting alone, go sit and talk with them.
Maybe the situation it this: every Monday morning what's the question everybody asks you? "How was your weekend?" Well here, it's predominantly Latter-day Saint, you know what happened this weekend, but if you're on the mainland in California or Ohio or wherever you may live, and say something like this, "well I had an interesting day yesterday," you may be an executive or whatever, and you say, "I taught four four-year olds in a primary class," and they're going to look at you and say, "You did what?' and the discussion opens, obviously, onto a church discussion.
What about, "Where did you learn your foreign language?" I imagine there are many here, who have served foreign missions, and speak a foreign language, someone unfamiliar with this asks you about it and you have an opportunity to talk about your mission.
Let your friends know they can ask questions safely of you when the time is right. I'd like to show you now a video of one young man from a small branch in the southern states, about the power of one young man and what occurred.
Was Junior Rayas fearful? No, because he was talking and teaching his friends what he felt deep within his soul was true. Junior Rayas said this, "It would be just me, I was the one and only" within a couple of years, as you saw, there are now 26 active young men are now involved in that priest quorum. It all started, as they said, with one person, "he invited me, and then I invited another,' "I love my brothers' we were not afraid to invite our friends' and then the branch president at the end said, "we challenge all to come unto Christ"
Now, I am keenly aware that a majority of this student body is Latter-Day Saint, we have many, but there are some that are not and we greet you and we love you. You might say, "well Brother Dalton there's not a lot of missionary work to be done here on campus" in these three wonderful stakes and some of you are involved in family stakes throughout this area, but all of you have homes. Most of you come from all over the world, you will go home for Thanksgiving, you'll go home for Christmas, you'll be home on vacationing, and you're involved in the social network, you're tweeting and what all you do, you're telephoning, and you're saying "President, we don't have the opportunity" Well, I don't understand that completely. So with that thought in mind, that you come from all over the world and many of you might not have parents who are members of the church or your family is a part member family, I'm going to propose this: in 2012, this gives you about a month and a half to prepare for this challenge, refer just one person to the missionaries to teach. Just one, I'm not asking for fifty, which would be nice, but let's take it down to the lowest common denominator: just one. The power of one. Let me put that into perspective, there are approximately 2,500 students here, if each of you referred just one of your friends, neighbors, or family throughout the world, for the missionaries to teach and if we take the statistic from Elder Oaks that 59% of those referred will be baptized, that's 1,800 new members, or approximately four new wards throughout the world by just one. Some of you may feel that that's not a possibility; then maybe it's one who is less active that needs to become more active in the church. That's with just one, in the year 2012. We know the Lord went about doing good, why shouldn't we? When the faith of the leaders and the members of this church match the vision of a prophet both President Hinckley and President Monson, we will double baptisms. In D&C 84:88 we read, "And whoso receiveth you, there I will be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up."
God bless you all, especially the young people here today. In meeting this tremendous challenge, the opportunity that is ours, we can't ovate it, we cannot escape it, we have to face up to it, the opportunities and the blessings are tremendous, you're chosen in your royal generation, you are unique, and that special moment in your life is now. You are being figuratively tapped on the shoulder to find the one in the year 2012. 2012 could be one of our finest hours.
I want to bare my witness that God lives, Jesus is the Christ; he is our perfect example, who voluntarily laid down his life and fulfilled that infant atonement. Joseph Smith saw the Father and the Son on that spring day in a grove that we call Sacred. The priesthoods and the gospel of Jesus Christ had been restored again and the Book of Mormon is a second witness that Jesus is the Christ. President Monson is a prophet of God and my eyes are constantly riveted on him. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.