Mission Farewell Talk
Topic: Not being Ashamed of living and sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ
Good morning everyone! Thank you all for being here today, I’ve been waiting for my farewell to come for awhile, and now that it’s here it almost doesn’t feel real!
My topic today is on Not being ashamed of living and sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. These past few weeks as i’ve been thinking about what I want to say I really felt like I should share my experience of deciding to go on a mission.
Anyone who knows me well knows that at any given time I have the next ten years of my life thoroughly planned out. No where in that plan was serving a mission included. Not that serving a mission wasn't a great goal to have, I just didn't think it was for me. I knew exactly what I wanted to major in during college, i'd find a stellar job, and soon enough i'd have a white picket fence house with lots of dogs and puppies. Easy, simple, five step plan, right? Boy was I wrong. My first year of college should have been amazing, and in a lot of aspects it was. I was going to a great school with my best friends, had a great apartment, I was on a scholarship, and loved my classes. So why did I feel like something wasn't missing? After all, things were going perfectly according to my plan. I just couldn't shake that saddening feeling that something was missing. How could I have missed something when planning my life?
After a lot of prayer the answer finally came to me. I missed planning for God's plan! I had forgotten the step where I ask Him if my plans line up with his. No where had I stopped to consider that, although I have great things planned for myself, Heavenly Father might have something even better for me. My answer came to me quietly and for the most part through other people. I would pray to know if a mission was right for me and then the relief society lesson would be on missionary work, I would fast to know the answer and then later in the day my roommate asked me to take mission prep with her. There were countless examples of other people in my life who were amazing answers to prayers and who helped me recognize my answer. I’m so thankful for those people who where willing to be an example of the gospel of Jesus Christ whether they knew it or not!
Romans 1:16 says
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth”
I love this scripture because of how direct it is! I had never read preach my gospel before I decided to go on a mission, and something that I was really surprised by was how direct and simple it was. There were phrases like “either this gospel is true or it isn’t, and prayer is the way to discover that answer for yourself” and other bold questions that were straight to the point. As a missionary this is how i’m going to have to be, there isn’t any dancing around the discussions. A missionary needs to be powerful and bold to be able to teach with the spirit. The more I thought about this the more I realized that we can all be like that in our lives, and that we need to speak up about the Gospel, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t!
I had some awesome examples growing up of people around me who weren’t ashamed of living the gospel, and incorporated it even in the little things that they did. In high school I worked at a store in the mall with a girl who wore her young womens medallion every day to work. It was a great conversation started when customers would ask where she got her necklace. Instead of glossing over it and saying “oh I earned it” or “my church gives them to the young women” she would without hesitating say that she was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and that she had earned the necklace through service and becoming the person Heavenly Father wants her to be.
One of my best friends is a great example of speaking up about the Gospel. Every week or so she would post a gospel quote on her instagram page and the link to lds.org and bare a quick testimony about how much she loves this gospel and how she knows it’s true. We live in a time that it’s hard to speak up about being a christian without being attacked. But something that i’ve learned from hearing of my friends experiences on their missions is that it doesn’t matter how the person receives your message, what matters is that you delivered the message in a way that invited the Spirit. The worst thing we can do is not share the gospel because we’re afraid of the consequences.
I wanted to share a story from the New Era that I found while working on my talk. It’s by Kevin Mumford entitled “I am not ashamed” and it starts off:
A few summers ago I was waiting to check in at a university sports camp. My turn in the line came, and the official-looking woman asked for my name. She looked at her list and said, “So you’re the young man from Utah.”
“You mean I’m the only one?” I asked.
“Yes, you’re our only student here from Utah.” She then handed me my nametag with a bold “Utah” printed below my name. As I clipped it on, I felt like I was being branded.
I walked to the hotel elevators with my luggage. Five other high school students with nametags like mine crowded into the elevator. “Hey, you’re from Utah. Are you a Mormon?” said a tall guy.
I felt out of place with all of these student leaders from all over the country. “Yes,” I hesitantly admitted.
“Yeah, my minister told me all about you. You’re the guys who believe in John Smith and his golden glasses, right?”
“I think you mean Joseph Smith,” I responded.
“Yeah, that’s right. He’s the one who said he saw all those angels and stuff. You don’t actually believe any of that, do you?”
I didn’t even know what to say. The other students in the elevator were all staring right at me. I had just arrived, and already everyone thought I was different. I became a little defensive and spoke up.
“I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God.”
Where had that come from? I wondered. I didn’t know I had it in me. But the words felt true as they left my mouth.
“Yeah, my minister told me that you were all just a bunch of religious nuts,” he said.
With that, there was an uncomfortable pause as the elevator door opened to our floor. As we gathered our luggage, the tall student walked down the hall laughing to himself. I felt a little humiliated.
Right then, a voice from behind me asked, “Hey, don’t Mormons have some sort of another Bible?”
Oh no. Here we go again, I thought. I turned to see one of the students who had been in the elevator with me, a very tan guy named Christopher from California.
“It’s called the Book of Mormon,” I said, half wanting to drop the subject. I picked up my bags and started walking down the hall.
“Is that the book that Joseph Smith translated?” Christopher asked.
“Yeah, it is,” I answered. I kept on walking, not wanting to embarrass myself any more.
“Well, do you know how I could get one?”
A phrase from a scripture that had been taught to me by my ninth-grade seminary teacher suddenly came to my mind. “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ” (Rom. 1:16). As this thought entered my mind, I felt ashamed that I had been so embarrassed.
For the rest of my week with all of the student leaders, that same scripture wouldn’t leave my mind. I was asked all sorts of questions about the Church, and I made many friends. As I answered the questions that I could, I discovered I was proud of my religion. I think I learned as much about myself as they did.
I gave Christopher a Book of Mormon, and he later wrote to me, telling me he had invited the missionaries to his home.
I learned that I don’t have to be embarrassed by my beliefs. I know this is the true gospel of Christ, and I am not ashamed of it.
I’m so excited to go on my mission and to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with the people in Washington! It’s going to be the hardest thing i’ve ever done, but I know it’s exactly where Heavenly Father needs and wants me right now. I’m excited to get my missionary name tag and literally wear my religion on my sleeve!
I’m so thankful for a family who has helped me to get to this point. Tori - thank you for being an amazing little sister, for teaching me how to share a room. You’re the best little helper there is.
Kade - thanks for making me laugh until I can’t breath, and for always giving me a brutally honest opinion when I need it most.
Dad - thank you for teaching me what it means to work hard and that if i’m going to do something, I might as well do it right the first time.
Mom - this is the hardest one. Thank you for being there for me, for defending me, for teaching me selflessness. You’re always putting everyone before yourself. Thank you for being the one I can tell everything to and being my best friend.
I know this Gospel is true without a doubt. I’ve prayed about it over and over again. It’s given me hope and comfort when I needed it. It’s changed my life. I know the power of prayer is real and that Heavenly Father listens to everything we have to say and comforts us when we need it most. I’m so excited to teach this to the people in Spokane!