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 9
Door approaches at nonmembers homes always include an introduction into genealogy and temple work. It is very unusual to find a home in Pukekohe where a family member does not have an interest in, or does not already do genealogy work.
The Pukekohe Ward has increased the monthly genealogy workshops to fortnightly events. This makes access further available to those keen to do more research. Seventeen baptisms and over thirty activated in four months, also five hundred names submitted to the temple.
A little over nine months ago, President Pedersen instituted a program wherein missionaries were to tailor their work to be in line with the three-fold mission of the church. This was to increase convert baptisms and get all members, whether less active or not, to go to the temple to do the work that needs to be done. It is working. I have seen an inactive branch president who has been away for fourteen years, return with a goal to go to the temple and in the process baptize his two daughters and help reactivate some other members. One is a returned missionary who married a nonmember and went inactive for about two years. After getting her and her husband to listen to one of our Forefathers Presentations, she came back and is helping teach her husband.
I have not experienced any great manifestations like some that I have heard of. But, in my life I have never felt the spirit like I have when these people learn more about the mission of Elijah and return to church. My family at home has felt it too. Many returned missionaries go inactive when they return home because they don't understand or can't adjust to the different missions of the church. This program has increased my awareness of these missions and I am intently interested in doing temple work, as well as converting people here to doing it for themselves.
There are many experiences that I have had with less actives returning to church and blessing the lives of their family members, as well as giving the elders the help needed to convert their family members. Incoming missionaries need to understand that there is still a need for convert baptisms. We are here to baptize people and get them to the temple and at the same time get those who are struggling with their testimonies to return to do work. This program has been working and the effects are wonderful to see. Just for an example, if there were to be no more convert baptisms in the Manakau stake for the next year but we were to get 78 percent of the less actives back, it would split the stake by the end of the year. I encourage this program and love its effects. The spirit of Elijah is very powerful and I have seen it working more and more in this mission. Elder Young
About nine months ago, President Pedersen, upon arriving in New Zealand initiated a program to reactivate the less actives, increase convert baptisms, and combine the three missions of the church. The program includes the fulfilling of Malachi 4:5-6, by turning the hearts of the less active and the nonmembers to their fathers.
I have seen this program work and touch the lives of many people including myself. I saw a man in Kaikohe return to church after fifteen years of inactivity. As the spirit of Elijah entered his life and home, he was brought back into activity and redirected his life towards the temple.
It also touches our investigators because they realize that they are not alone, but they have a great number of ancestors who need them to be baptized and go to the temple to ensure that their work is done. In this way retention has increased because the people I have baptized have had a direction and a path to follow after their baptism. A road to the temple paved with genealogical research.
In conclusion I would like to say that I commend this program whole heartedly because I have seen it work and felt the spirit very strongly as I have been engaged in it. Elder Richard P. Wadley
We met a very spiritual, active member, who it is not unusual to have dreams. Her husband had died some years back and she had had his work done for him. While at a temple session some months ago her husband came back and spoke to her. He thanked her for doing his work, but also told her that there were many spirits from the same area, who had not had their work done for them. He encouraged her to continue to do genealogy and missionary work.
During another presentation a woman related a dream she had, where her father and grandfather were sitting in the graveyard in which they were buried. They were happy, but there were a lot of other people sitting around who looked very unhappy. One of the other women in the discussion had a shocked look on her face. She said that she had had the same dream only two nights before. These are only a few of the experiences we have had concerning the Spirit of Elijah.
The spirit of Elijah via the Fathers Presentation has really helped in the progression of some of our investigators. In one experience we had the opportunity to teach a young man the Fathers Presentation and the spirit was really strong and we all could feel it. We left him with a prayer and a four-generation sheet. We talked to him two days later and he told us that he really wanted to know more about the genealogy program. He then told us that after we had left, he took the four-generation sheet and just set it on the table. That night he woke up and he said he saw people standing in his room and they were dressed in regular clothes. He watched closer and noticed that there was a long line of people that seemed to be waiting for something to happen. Elder T. C. Western