Monday, July 4, 2016
Very early in my mission, when I was in Cape Coast, I heard a story from President Stevenson that has greatly affected me. He was speaking to us as a group of new missionaries and I will never forget it. I know I can't do it justice, but I want to paraphrase his story so that I can share the great lesson that I learned that day.
"There were two missionaries who, like most missionaries in the world, spent much of their time knocking on doors and looking daily for people to teach. One day as they were tracting, they met a man at the foot of his porch who rejected them, and as they were leaving he mentioned that they weren't the first missionaries to try and 'fool him.' Although the missionaries were discouraged at first, they felt a strong prompting to keep trying to pass by that particular man. For weeks they came to him, but no matter what their approach they just could not seem to get inside his door.
One day, as they were close to his house, it began to rain heavily. Not wanting to walk in the rain, they sought shelter quickly and found themselves on the porch of that stubborn man. 'Perfect!' They thought. 'Now he has to let us in.' As the man answered his door, they begged him to allow them protection from the rain. He reluctantly let them into his home seeing no other option. Once inside, the missionaries thanked him greatly as they finally sat in his elusive front room. After some small conversational talk, he begrudgingly allowed them to share their prolonged message of the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
As the Elders taught, the man kept silent the duration of the lesson. He did not say a word, although he was intently focused upon them, only nodding occasionally when asked a simple question. The sole sound was that of the Elders' muffled voices over the roar of the rain. These missionaries boldly told him of Joseph Smith and powerfully testified that the Church of Jesus Christ has been restored back to the Earth after centuries of being lost. When they finally finished, he sat deep in thought for a long time.
Finally, he looked at both of them squarely and said, 'Elders, I don't think the both of you actually believe that message you just shared with me.'
Taken aback at his response, the Elders again testified that they knew it was true. He refuted and said, 'Then perhaps you don't understand it. You would have never knocked on my door today. If this message is true, then no amount of rain would ever stop you.' "
When I heard this story I began to realize that I, as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, carry a message that deserves to be proclaimed in any condition. Rain or shine, snow or drought, it needs to be shared. We are the only ones in the world who have this truth. I now can say I understand what Paul said when he testified "for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!" (1 Cor. 9:16).
Here in Africa, the proselyting conditions are not always ideal. For six months out of the year, it rains daily. And not just a light sprinkle, but storms can happen in the morning and last all through the day. It can be a big temptation not to go out and teach when the skies aren't bright and sunny! But since the time I heard that story, I have walked in the rain without hesitation. The downpours no longer are a deterrence to me, but a blessing, as if with every raindrop God makes me stronger.