From a commencement speech at Brigham Young University – Hawaii, Elder M. Russell Ballard – Apostle for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, expresses his feelings and encourages us to use all this new technology to spread the Gospel. For the complete article, please visit the LDS.org page at this LINK. It is also available in the current issue of the Church’s Ensign magazine.
In the span of nearly 80 years, I’ve seen many changes. When I began my mission in England in 1948, the most common way for people to get news was through newspapers and radio.
How different the world is today. For many of you, if you read newspapers, the chances are you read them on the Internet. Ours is the world of cyberspace, cell phones that capture video, video and music downloads, social networks, text messaging and blogs, handhelds and podcasts.
This is the world of the future, with inventions undreamed of that will come in your lifetime as they have in mine. How will you use these marvelous inventions? More to the point, how will you use them to further the work of the Lord?
I am no where near as old as Elder Ballard, but even at 31, I have witnessed an immense explosion of technological discoveries and inventions. In the early to mid ninety’s, I saw the major introduction and adoption of cellular phones. I was working at Office Depot and some of the first digital cellphones were on the shelves and I recall selling them in droves. Now these phones are seemingly everywhere and anyone from 10 to 100 are using them! This is just one example of how technology is huge and becomes a normal part of life.
A few years later, we really saw the Internet expand and grow. Remember hearing about the dot com boom of the late ninety’s? It seemed all the companies advertising on TV and radio all had www dot something. We all know the internet has grown and really saturated the media and our lives. With everything that is created or invented, it can be used for good and for evil. We need to make some decisions ahead of time to know that there are horrific amounts of evil content available to anyone who browses the web. These decisions should be like our decisions to not use illegal drugs, drink alcohol, be unfaithful, and on and on. If you’ve already made these decisions and you can readily recognize what is good and what is not, the use of the Internet can truly uplift and inspire.
Elder Ballard continues…
Let me give you a few other examples of how Church members are using the new media.
A Church member living in the Midwest of the United States makes a concerted effort to share the gospel every day, in person. He then writes a blog about his daily endeavors to share the teachings of the Book of Mormon and to give pass-along cards to all he meets. His effort to share the gospel so diligently is admirable, and his further effort to write about it no doubt inspires many others to do the same.
Others have recorded and posted their testimonies of the Restoration, the teachings of the Book of Mormon, and other gospel subjects on popular video-sharing sites. You too can tell your story to nonmembers in this way. Use stories and words that they will understand. Talk honestly and sincerely about the impact the gospel has had in your life, about how it has helped you overcome weaknesses or challenges and helped define your values. The audiences for these and other new media tools may often be small, but the cumulative effect of thousands of such stories can be great. The combined effort is certainly worth the outcome if but a few are influenced by your words of faith and love of God and His Son, Jesus Christ.
The Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ has no doubt had a powerful impact on your life. It has, in part, shaped who you are and what your future will be. Do not be afraid to share with others your experiences as a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. We all have interesting stories that have influenced our identity. Sharing those stories is a nonthreatening way to talk to others. Telling those stories can help demystify the Church. You could help overcome misperceptions through your own sphere of influence, which ought to include the Internet.
Along with these great examples, he also warns of these activities:
Every disciple of Christ will be most effective and do the most good by adopting a demeanor worthy of a follower of the Savior. Discussions focused on questioning, debating, and doubting gospel principles do little to build the kingdom of God. The Apostle Paul has admonished us to not be “ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation” (Romans 1:16). Let us all stand firmly and speak with faith in sharing our message with the world. Many of you are returned missionaries and can carry on a meaningful conversation in the language you learned on your mission. Your outreach can be international.
As you participate in this conversation and utilize the tools of new media, remember who you are—Latter-day Saints. Remember, as the proverb states, that “a soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger” (Proverbs 15:1). And remember that contention is of the devil (see 3 Nephi 11:29). There is no need to argue or contend with others regarding our beliefs. There is no need to become defensive or belligerent. Our position is solid; the Church is true. We simply need to have a conversation, as friends in the same room would have, always guided by the prompting of the Spirit and constantly remembering the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ, which reminds us of how precious are the children of our Father in Heaven.
May the Lord bless each of you that you will have a powerful influence on those you come in contact with. As I said in the beginning, the power of words is incredible. Let your voice be heard in this great cause of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
I really strive to write about good and inspiring things. I try to make sure these posts are positive and inspire thought and discussion. I sometimes struggle to approach some more deep, personal and spiritual subjects. It’s not easy to just lay them out for the world (literally!) to see and perhaps comment on. I am so grateful for our Heavenly Father’s inspiration to rest upon some of the great minds of our world that brings forth these incredible tools. I testify that He is truly our Father. He loves each one of us and knows us as individuals. He misses us and wants us to return to him. He sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to save us from ourselves. To help us return in spite of us. I know that Jesus is my Savior and that through his Sacrifice and Resurrection, I can be forgiven of my sins and return to my Father in Heaven.
Let us be grateful for the blessings of all this technology and how we can best use them to be a powerful witness of Christ.