Perusing through all kinds of electronic literature that are critical of the church, its beliefs, doctrines, and practices, it is easy and superficially logical to conclude that it has some rough times ahead; women and the priesthood, historical misinterpretations, same-sex marriage, etc. I have to admit that at times I too have been worried about the extent to which these misunderstood issues could tarnish our image and persuade earnest seekers of God and Truth to satisfy their yearnings elsewhere. Two recent events, however, have silenced those fears and provide cause to hope that the church will continue to be led by divine inspiration and continually blossom despite these challenges.
Event No. 1:
A few weeks ago I spent four glorious days, including 25-30 bus hours, with 300+ youth of the Apex North Carolina Stake in Palmyra, New York, to rediscover the origins of the Restoration (you can read more about that here). I was an eyewitness to the strength and miracle of testimony and conversion among our youth, and finished the experience with the conviction that as they act on what they believe, they will become sacred protectors and promoters of doctrines and principles of the gospel that prepare us for the Lord's return. Tomorrow's church will be safe in the hands of today's youth.
Event No. 2:
“Our praise for the pioneers is empty if it does not cause inner reflection on our part.” Dieter F. Uchtdorf.
A few hours ago I was sitting in sacrament meeting expecting stirring tributes to the early pioneers, accompanied by rousing invitations to draw strength from their sacrifices to conquer my own challenges, but I found so much more. Two valiant sisters, both converts to the church, delivered priceless messages of faith, hope, forgiveness, and endurance as they recounted twisted and perilous paths to overcome abuse, loss, loneliness and despair to find the Gospel of Jesus Christ and make and keep eternal marriage covenants. They both were pioneers in their own families, blazing trails of belief and blessings for generations after them to enjoy. I have found the will to do hard things in reflecting on the sacrifices my pioneer ancestors made over 150 years ago (you can read more about that here), and I am certain that descendants of these sisters will do the same. Tomorrow's church will be safe in the hands of the descendants of today's converts.