“Go Ye into All the World, and Preach My Gospel”
Lesson 26 – Our Heritage, pages 29-33, 36
Elder Erastus Snow left on his 1836 mission with a set of scriptures, a pair of socks, five small coins, and a piece of paper with the following message: “This suitcase belongs to Elder Erastus Snow. I have been called by the Prophet Joseph Smith to serve a mission in western Pennsylvania. I am instructed to leave in the spring of 1836. I will be departing from Kirtland alone and on foot. I am taking all my worldly wealth.” (Our Heritage, pg. 31) Sacrifice, Courage, and Faith were required for Elder Snow to serve his mission.
Most of the past 13 lessons have covered doctrines that were revealed and events that took place in Kirtland, Ohio. Those revelations and spiritual growth experiences were great blessings to the Saints. Teachings and experiences included the law of consecration, the law of tithing and the fast, the purposes of the temple, the restoration of important keys, the plan of salvation and the kingdoms of glory, the Word of Wisdom, the Second Coming, keys to avoiding apostasy, and the revelation of the priesthood.
Missionaries were called to preach in the U.S., Canada, and England. Most served at great personal sacrifice.
· D&C 42:6 and D&C 88:81 are examples of many of His commandments to preach the gospel. In following those revelations, many Saints like Parley P. Pratt were called to serve in Canada. On his way to Toronto, “a stranger gave him a letter of introduction to John Taylor, a Methodist lay preacher in Toronto. Taylor was affiliated with a group who believed existing churches did not correspond with New Testament Christianity. For two years this group had met several times a week for the ‘purpose of seeking truth, independent of any sectarian organization.’ In Toronto, Elder Pratt was courteously received by the Taylors, but they were not at first enthusiastic about his message. Discouraged at being unable to secure a place to preach, Parley decided to leave Toronto. Before going he stopped at the Taylors to get some of his luggage and to say goodbye. While he was there, Lenora Taylor told her friend Mrs. Isabelle Walton about Parley’s problem and said she was sorry he was leaving. ‘He may be a man of God,’ she said. Mrs. Walton replied that she had been inspired by the Spirit to visit the Taylors that morning because she was willing to let Elder Pratt stay at her home and preach. He did so and was eventually invited to attend a meeting of John Taylor’s group, in which John read the New Testament account of Philip’s preaching in Samaria. ‘Now,’ said he, ‘where is our Philip? Where is our receiving the Word with joy, and being baptized when we believed? Where is our Peter and John? Our apostles? Where is our Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands?…’ When Parley was invited to speak, he declared that he had answers for John Taylor’s questions. For three weeks John Taylor attended Elder Pratt’s meetings, making detailed notes of his sermons and carefully comparing them with the scriptures. Gradually he became convinced that the true gospel of Jesus Christ was restored. He and his wife, Lenora, were baptized 9 May 1836.” (Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt , 134-40, 151). John Taylor was ordained an elder and served faithfully as a missionary, later becoming the third President of the Church.
· Levi Hancock was baptized in November 1830, and soon afterward he was called to leave Kirtland and serve a mission in Missouri. The journey involved walking hundreds of miles, and he and his companion, Zebedee Coltrin, had success in preaching the gospel as they traveled. “But they also suffered hardships on their journey. Levi fell ill because of an infection in his feet and had to spend time recuperating with a family who took him in while Zebedee went on without him. Later, in Missouri, he continued to struggle with illness and chafed at times because of his inability to do all he wanted. But grateful to serve, he wrote: ‘I have to be honest before God and do all the good I can for his kingdom or woe is me. I care not for the world nor what they say. They have to meet my Testimony at the Judgment seat. I mean that my conduct shall be such that my words will be believed, the Lord being my helper.’” Later Levi served valiantly as part of Zion’s Camp. In February 1835, he was chosen as one of the Presidents of the Seventy. (Ensign, July 1999, 48-50)
Obviously, overcoming adversity is important in missionary work and that cannot be done without faith and a willingness to sacrifice to advance the work of the Lord. How willing are we to make sacrifices?
As the Church grew, the forces working against it became more vigorous. Some of the Saints faltered in their faith. During this challenging time, the Lord revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith that “something new must be done for the salvation of His Church” (History of the Church, 2:489). That “something new” proved to be an infusion of new converts to the Church from England. “Because many early missionaries obediently accepted mission calls despite personal sacrifice, thousands of British converts enjoyed the blessings of the restored gospel. They gathered to Zion and greatly strengthened the Church for the crucial periods that lay ahead.” (Our Heritage, Pg. 33)
On 23 July 1837, the day the missionaries first preached the gospel in England, the Prophet Joseph Smith received a revelation, D&C 112, directed to Thomas B. Marsh, the President of the Quorum of the Twelve. D&C 112:19-22 contains promises made to the twelve that they would have doors opened and be successful in their labors. The promise in verse 19 was quickly fulfilled—within eight months, 2,000 people had been converted and 26 branches were organized in England.
The Lord continues to fulfill this promise, as shown by this story related by President Thomas S. Monson:
“In 1968, when I made my first visit to the German Democratic Republic, tensions were high. Trust and understanding did not exist. No diplomatic relations had been established. On a cloudy and rain-filled day I journeyed to the city of Gorlitz, …I attended my first meeting with the Saints. We assembled in a small and ancient building. As the members sang the hymns of Zion, they literally filled the hall with their faith and devotion. My heart was filled with sorrow when I realized the members had no patriarch, no wards or stakes, just branches. They could not receive temple blessings—either endowment or sealing. No official visitor had come from Church headquarters in a long time. The members could not leave their country. Yet they trusted in the Lord with all their hearts. I stood at the pulpit, and with tear-filled eyes and a voice choked with emotion, I made a promise to the people: ‘If you will remain true and faithful to the commandments of God, every blessing any member of the Church enjoys in any other country will be yours.’ Then I realized what I had said. That night, I dropped to my knees and pleaded with my Heavenly Father, ‘Father, I’m on Thy errand; this is Thy Church. I have spoken words that came not from me but from Thee and Thy Son. Wilt Thou fulfill the promise in the lives of this noble people.’ Thus concluded my first visit to the German Democratic Republic.” Eight years later, Elder Monson offered a dedicatory prayer on the land including these words: “Dear Father, let this be the beginning of a new day for the members of Thy Church in this land.” Following this inspired prayer, the Church grew rapidly in the land. District councils were organized, followed by the creation of stakes. Priesthood leaders and patriarchs were called. The Freiberg Germany temple was dedicated in 1985. And in 1989 the government permitted the Church to send full-time missionaries to the country. (Ensign, May 1989, 50-53)
By 1838, the Kirtland era was drawing to a close as persecution intensified and the dangers increased. While some Church members apostasized, most remained faithful and strengthened the Church at a crucial time. As an example, Brigham Young demonstrated loyalty and faith in the Lord’s prophet, Joseph Smith when some apostates, including some prominent Church leaders, were plotting to replace Joseph with someone else. Brigham said: “I rose up, and in a plain and forcible manner told them that Joseph was a Prophet, and I knew it, and that they might rail and slander him as much as they pleased; they could not destroy the appointment of the Prophet of God, they could only destroy their own authority, cut the thread that bound them to the Prophet and to God, and sink themselves to hell. Many were highly enraged at my dedicated opposition to their measures…This meeting was broken up without the apostates being able to unite on any decided measures of opposition” (“History of Brigham Young”, Deseret News, 10 Feb. 1858, 386)
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Great blessings came to the Kirtland Saints as they served missions and sacrificed to share the gospel. Most remained faithful despite great adversity. They left a legacy of faithful obedience and personal sacrifice that still serves as a powerful example for us today. Follow the appointed leaders, remain faithful in times of adversity, and share your testimony with everyone you meet.