What of the
Sharing the Gospel
From the New Zealand Auckland Mission
Joanne and I have had the privilege of know Herschel and Shirley Pedersen for many years. We love them and have learned much of value from them. The Pedersens were blessed with much success when they served in New Zealand where Herschel was mission president from 1987-90. I have never met any couple that have more genuinely warm and lovely smiles.
With a gentle boldness born of love, Herschel Pedersen has been an instrument in the hands of the Lord in helping rescue many less active members of the Church. As a young missionary, mission president, mission representative of the Twelve, and as a senior missionary with his wife, he has had similar success in sharing the gospel.
Letter to Elder Glen Rudd - Part 13
The new program being used, is used with the intent of turning the hearts of less actives and nonmembers to their fathers through making the proclamation of the gospel as a bridge between that work of the living and also for the dead. Through pointing our Heavenly Fathers children towards the temple, a far stronger conversion and higher retention can be achieved.
This is accomplished as the Spirit of Elijah enters their lives and their hearts are turned to that saving work for their kindred dead. For the most part this is achieved through a presentation being made called a Fathers or Elijah Presentation, to those in the process of conversion and to those on the path back to activity.
One may ask: Why are missionaries involved in working with less active members of the church when they have been called to proclaim the gospel? It has been my experience that as the less actives are reconverted to the gospel and as their hearts are turned to their fathers, their hearts are also turned to those family members and friends who are both nonmembers and less active members, over whom they have some degree of influence. In short the stakes are strengthened and more temple work is submitted and performed.
As we visited one less active brother and his wife, we left with a short message and prayer. We arranged to visit them in a few days to share a presentation concerning temples and genealogy. This brother, not to our knowledge, arranged in the intervening time twelve of his people to be present to be taught the gospel at this appointment.
We visited another elderly sister, less active for a number of years, and spoke to her concerning the temple and genealogy. She now has a desire to return to church, prepare for the temple, has submitted the temple work for her departed husband and gave my companion and I a number of referrals for her nonmember and less active family, of whom she has sixteen children, all with their own families who are nonmembers.
Through tradition, scholastic research and the testimony of many latter-day prophets, it can be shown that the Polynesian people are a remnant of the literal seed of the Book of Mormon people and hence the children of Israel. In teaching the Maori we make specific reference to the fulfillment of those Book of Mormon prophesies concerning the restoration unto the knowledge of their fathers, and also to the knowledge of Jesus Christ, which was had among their fathers. (2 Nephi 30:5) And also the planting in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers. (D&C 2:2) Elder Niven J. Tasker
We use other methods such as genealogy and the Spirit of Elijah presentations to spark an interest in our investigators. This has proven to be a successful way in approaching people about the gospel, Book of Mormon, and temple work.
For example: We were given a referral to see a man. When we arrived at his home, he invited us in and we talked with him and his small family for a short time. We found that he would avoid gospel discussions and he was reluctant to set up a return appointment; however, we then told him an account of his forefathers and showed him how he and his native traditions related to the Book of Mormon. He suddenly became interested and accepted a return appointment. We returned as planned and gave the presentation. He felt the spirit, and committed to read and pray about the Book of Mormon.
I have since been shifted into a new area but again, I strongly believe that this man will one day accept the gospel and be baptized.
Redeeming the dead is not only a good topic used for nonmembers but is also a great tool to prick the hearts of the less active members. I have used genealogy as a door approach. People react differently towards missionaries when we talk about relatives and deceased family and how they can help those who are dead. This opens the door for many gospel-related subjects.
I know that the programs and techniques that the N.Z.A.M. has established are truly inspired of God and have left an eternal impression on my heart and mind. I have definitely had more success by using these programs. Elder Dickson