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 5
In Manurewa, Elders Maurer and Wadley visited an inactive family on request of the ward Relief Society. We went in to see Brother Mokaraka who had not been to church in 19 years. He was having a lot of problems in the household, i.e., his wife is dying of cancer and did not want to take the medicine. She had just left one night and had not said anything and did not come back. We gave the Fathers Presentation and placed some genealogy sheets with him. When we finished with our presentation with tears in his eyes, he said “Elders, the principles never left me, the ways of the world just got in me. I did not realize I had such a large responsibility.” He then bore his powerful testimony of the Book of Mormon and said he would be back to church on Sunday and he hasn’t missed one yet. He even takes his clothes to church to change before going to work. His desire to go to the temple has really increased and he wants to get his family sealed together. We gave him a blessing that his wife would return soon. The night before we shifted, his wife showed up being six weeks after the blessing. He will be ordained an Elder in the near future, and is completing his genealogy.
Elders Sloan and Dickie report that they went to see an inactive family and when they got there they were invited in and a woman was there with a sick child. She lived out in the bush, (in the middle of nowhere) she was a nonmember and as she prayed for help for the baby she decided to go try get to a doctor. On the way she prayed again and decided to go to the inactive members home and ask them to help her. When she got there she told them how she had prayed for help and as she was relating the experience the Elders knocked and administered to the child. The lady is baptized and the family is active.
Sister McNeely and Sister Sadaraka had the following experience: They went to visit an inactive lady and they explained that she could not progress after death without the ordinances of the temple and that she had to be sealed to her family and husband. Tears flowed as she told them that her aunt had appeared to her and told her that very thing just a few days before.
I (President Pedersen) went to visit an inactive family in Manurewa with Elders Silver and Giles. When we arrived at the home, there were several people there and most of them were inactive members. Before we ever said a word, the inactive mother spoke and told us she had a dream the night before. In that dream she was told to go to her daughter’s place at 2:00 pm and there would be a tall man there with the missionaries and he had a message for her that was important. She said she recognized me from the dream. I gave them the mission of Elijah and she wept, and now they are all active.
In Hillsborough, with Elders Miller and Gale, I visited Daphne Clark, an inactive for thirty years. We explained the blessings and promises of the Fathers Presentation and that she had to claim them. She wept and two months later had her genealogy work done.
In Gisborne, I visited Brother Campbell who had been inactive and were attending the Jehovah Witnesses. We explained the Fathers Presentation from the Book of Mormon and he became active in one visit and is now an Elder and the very next day gave us 116 referrals.
When we started to activate people some of the local members opposed us and told the missionaries to keep in their own area and leave the inactives alone. Elder Maurer then told the ward mission leader to pick someone and he would go teach him how to give the Fathers Presentation. Right after church, the ward mission leader picked a family and they went. They knocked on the door and the husband came out and refused to let them in, so Elder Maurer began to give him the presentation on the porch. This included the sealing powers, Fathers and genealogy. The man stood and wept and asked them to come in. He then let us teach his wife and started back to church. Now they have a goal to go to the temple and get their family sealed.
In September, after establishing our reactivation work, we selected the small town of Ngaruwhia as a test to see what two or three Elders could do. There had been missionaries there five years prior and had not been there since. There were over 400 inactive members in the Branch. Elders Robertshaw, and Kohu were there the first month and Elder Kohu was released and Elder Waters replaced him. The following are the results:
By the end of the first week they had ninety families in the contact pool and had 15 referrals that were nonmembers. By the second week they had progressed to 11 inactive families and 5 nonmembers into the teaching pool. They also acquired 12 more referrals that were nonmembers. The third week 30 more people were added to the contact pool, 13 inactives advanced to the teaching pool and seven more nonmembers were advanced to the teaching pool and one nonmember to the baptismal pool. By the end of the first month they had 181 families in the contact pool, they had advanced 37 families into the teaching pool and placed eight nonmembers in the baptismal pool.
They visited 314 families or homes. There were 131 children ages 8-11, 185 women Relief Society age, 19 inactive males holding the office of deacon, eight inactive teachers, 19 inactive priests, 155 inactive Melchizedek Priesthood holders, and 200 nonmembers.
At the end of three months they had baptized 17, activated 37, had 49 families doing genealogical research, 17 of which were nonmembers. They had produced 167 referrals for other areas, and had a total of over 600 people to teach. The study continues: On February 1988, there were 117 in attendance at Church. Of those 11 were nonmembers. From 57 to 117, attendance in 5 months, all reactivated except the 17 baptisms.
Elder Porter reports from the Taranaki area: On the 29th of July, myself and three other Elders, (Harman, Young and Hunter) were given the assignment of re-opening the Taranaki area. This area includes the township of Inglewood, Waltara, and New Plymouth. The town of New Plymouth is 90% European and the other 10% is a mix of the different Polynesian races. Waitara and Inglewood on the other hand were 90% Maori.
The first morning that we were there we went up on Mt. Egmont which overlooks the entire area for miles. We held a rededication service, exercising our Priesthood and dedicating the area of Taranaki to missionary work. We received a list of the inactive members in the area and began to visit each of them and sharing the Fathers Presentation with them. Elders Harman and Porter began working with an inactive family by the name of Bailey. Brother Bailey had at one time been the Branch and District President in Waitara and his wife had been in the Relief Society Presidency. They were a very good family and welcomed us in with open arms. Sister Bailey had made attempts in returning to church, but found it hard without the support of her husband and children. We went out one night and began to share with them the Fathers Presentation. Elder Young asked Brother Bailey if he was very close to his grandfather and with tears streaming down his face he told us that it was his grandfather who had brought him up. He also went on to tell us that on many times he felt his grandfather near him and that he had felt promptings from his grandfather to return to church, but had pushed them aside. He told us that night that he would begin to prepare himself to return to church and also prepare himself to go to the temple again. Sister Bailey is now in the Primary Presidency and Brother Bailey is one the High Priest Group Leaders. Their two younger daughters who at the time were not members have now been baptized.