During His earthly ministry, the Saviour extended a powerful invitation to all of us: “Come, follow me.” We follow the Saviour by walking in the covenant path. We are all in different stages on this path.
Some of us have recently joined The Church of Jesus Christ through the waters of baptism and are just starting along the path. Others have been following this path for some time. Those who are already on the path have a great responsibility to help those who are starting their journey on the covenant path.
We all play an important role in helping new converts to enter the covenant path
Baptism is the first covenant that we make with the Saviour Jesus Christ to go back to His presence, but it is not the only one. After baptism, we also need to prepare ourselves to make temple covenants, and then, we need to endure to the end. It is a long journey, and it is our responsibility to help each other make it to the end. As we help others, we will also strengthen ourselves.
In Moroni 6:4-6, we read: “And after they had been received unto baptism, and were wrought upon and cleansed by the power of the Holy Ghost, they were numbered among the people of the church of Christ; and their names were taken, that they might be remembered and nourished by the good word of God, to keep them in the right way, to keep them continually watchful unto prayer, relying alone upon the merits of Christ, who was the author and the finisher of their faith.
“And the church did meet together oft, to fast and to pray, and to speak one with another concerning the welfare of their souls. And they did meet together oft to partake of bread and wine, in remembrance of the Lord Jesus.''
Through these verses we learn that we attend church every Sunday not only to partake of the sacrament, but also to speak one with another concerning the welfare of our souls. We read that “their names were taken”.
Why were their names taken? They were taken so that the members would remember them, nourish them, and watch over them. This is especially important for our recent converts. Every person is different and has different needs and expectations. We need to listen very carefully to our new converts to get to know them and their needs. As we learn more about them, we will know how to best help them on their path back to Heavenly Father.
I love the scripture found in Doctrine and Covenants 14:11, “And behold, thou art David, and thou art called to assist; which thing if ye do, and are faithful, ye shall be blessed both spiritu-ally and temporally, and great shall be your reward. Amen.” In this verse, I learn that we do not need a calling to serve, help and love recent converts. We are all called to assist and if we do so, we will be greatly blessed both spiritually and temporally. What a great promise this is!
When I was serving as a branch president in a young single adult branch in Florida, we had a young man that learned about the Church through the sister missionaries and shortly after was baptized. He was the only member of the Church in his family, and he did not have any friends in the Church prior to meeting the missionaries. However, I recall that on the day of his baptism, the other members of the branch embraced him and loved him without any judgments. It was a beautiful baptism service. It felt like he was among old friends.
And this happened because the members of the branch loved him and cared for him even before his baptism. They participated in his missionary lessons with the sisters. They invited him to attend family home evenings every Monday. They made sure that he was enrolled in and attending institute every week. After he was baptized, they took the time to help him to prepare a name and take it to the temple and perform the baptism for his ancestor. All these interactions occurred in a normal and natural way, and he felt that he belonged.
This was the result of a combined effort from all the members of the branch and the full-time missionaries, as we are all called to assist. The gospel is simple. We just need to love one another as the Saviour showed us. Love happens as we minister one by one. We do not need to, and should not, wait for someone’s baptism to love and minister to them. We love, share, and invite everyone to participate and to join us on the covenant path journey whether they are members or not.
During the October 2021 general conference Elder David A. Bednar taught: “These converts were eager to learn and serve, willing but often unsure about how to set aside old habits and strong traditions, and yet joyful to become ‘fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God.’”
He continued: “Our purpose in sharing the gospel is to invite all to come unto Jesus Christ, receive the blessings of the restored gospel, and endure to the end through faith in the Saviour. Helping individuals to experience the mighty change of heart and bind themselves to the Lord through sacred covenants and ordinances are the fundamental objectives of preaching the gospel.”
It is a blessing, a privilege, and a responsibility for each one of us to be part of this marvellous work. We all play an important role in helping new converts to enter the covenant path and attend the invitation of the Saviour to “Come, follow me.”