By Kevin V. Hunt
Recently I had the great opportunity to attend a special broadcast especially for parents of youth living in the Phoenix Metropolitan Area. This momentous occasion originated from a Queen Creek, Arizona chapel but was broadcast to the 53 stakes of the Phoenix area. Elder M. Russell Ballard, as a Senior Apostle, presided at the conference. With him was Elder Ronald A. Rasband. The format of the meeting was centered around questions that had been submitted previously by parents in the area.
Elder Rasband monitored the meeting. In doing so, he first had Elder Ballard speak to introduce the objectives and format of the meeting. Elder Ballard stated that he had been a General Authority for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for 41 years. Elder Rasband noted that Elder Ballard had been an Apostle for 31 of his 41 years as General Authority. He commended Elder Ballard for his many years of involvement with the missionary work in the Church. He noted too, that Elder Ballard had directed and managed the creation of the “Preach My Gospel” book. He then invited Elder Ballard to address the subject of missionary preparation for the parents gathered.
Elder Ballard said, “Missionary preparation … that starts very early. He discussed other ideas for missionary preparation for parents:
Develop a spirit of missionary service in the family. Just say, “This is what we do in our _____ family.
Know the friends of your children
Youth need a job to earn some of their mission money. Youth need to learn to work – to do their laundry, to clean their rooms, and to be responsible for their own territory in the home and to be responsible for themselves.
Encourage your children to read The Book of Mormon completely. As a mission president Elder Ballard said that as he visited with each incoming missionary, he asked them if they had read the complete Book of Mormon from cover to cover and was surprised at how many had not. He counseled his missionaries and parents at the meeting, “[You] need to be able to testify to me [the parent] of the truthfulness of The Book. This is a real key to effective missionary preparation,” he said.
Sit with the children whom you want to be missionaries and ask them to bear testimony to you as to who Jesus Christ really is. They have to have this ability. It gives them a “running start” on the mission.
Help the children to become great teachers – to be able to cut through the media and entertainment.
Have copies of “Preach My Gospel” for the children. This book was written to your missionaries – to your sons and daughters! Parents and children should read “Preach My Gospel” together.
Get into their minds the worth of one soul. Teach them about Gethsemane – wherein Christ endured and suffered for each individual. Getting a testimony of Christ and his suffering will bring a love of Christ into the lives of the youth. Teach them the value of one missionary going to one son or daughter of God.
He concluded by saying, “Pretty simple and they’re simple steps.”
He finished his remarks and began to leave the podium. Then he thought again and returned to the podium and emphatically said again, “START EARLY!”
What great lessons for parents relative to their training of their sons and daughters for missionary service.
As Elder Rasband returned to the podium, he took an audience question about young women serving missions. The mother – and Elder Rasband reiterated that it is a Priesthood Responsibility for the young men to serve. Then Elder Rasband said, “And the young women HAVE THE INVITATION TO SERVE.”