Gordon B. Hinckley, Conference Report, April 1960, pp. 81
My brethren and sisters, I seek the inspiration of the Lord.
I am grateful to be associated with the great missionary program of the Church. As I look at you, I think of the six thousand men and women who are scattered over the world, and who this day and this hour are knocking on doors, being refused entrance, in most cases, but getting in now and again to bear testimony of this work. I think it is a singular and marvelous thing that during the past year they brought into the Church approximately the equivalent of three times the number who now are assembled in this hall. This was exclusive of the more than eight thousand converts of those devoted men and women who are serving in the stake missions.
The other day when I was preparing to leave for a stake conference in Dallas the phone rang, and a man said, "I need a little information. I know a widow who goes out every morning at four o'clock to milk sixty cows to keep her son in the mission field. She has just received a letter from her boy saying that he needs a new overcoat and a pair of shoes, and she doesn't know where to get the money to buy them. Is there some way I can help?"
That procedure, of course, was very easily worked out, but as I traveled to my conference I reflected on the sacrifice of that widow, and of many other parents, to keep sons and daughters in the mission field. On Sunday morning, I rode around the city of Dallas with President and Sister Atkerson. We saw many large and beautiful churches and a magnificent synagogue. People were gathering to these buildings in such numbers that the traffic was blocked in some areas. We then went to our own building where we met six of our missionaries who are laboring in that area.
As I talked with our elders and thought of the sacrifice behind their service, and then thought of the people we had seen going to these other magnificent buildings, the question came into my mind, "Why do we make such efforts at such great cost to come to teach these people who already have so much that is virtuous and good?"
We admire their great reverence. One cannot witness their worship without appreciating their devotion. We admire their faith in an overruling Providence, and their great zeal in teaching the brotherhood of man. We admire them for all of the tremendous good that they accomplish.
What do we have to give them, with all that they now have, that they cannot get from any other source in all the world? Is it a recreation program? We have a good one, and I believe implicitly in it but many of them also provide excellent recreation. Is it a youth program? We have a tremendous program for which I am grateful, but in many cases they likewise have excellent youth programs. Is it schools and educational opportunities? They have these also, and in saying that I am grateful for our own great system.
Seriously, what can we give them that they do not now have? May I just review four or five items which have come to us through the revelation of the Lord and which they can secure from no other source in all this world? I shall follow the sequence in which these came to us. I think that sequence is important.
To me it is a significant and marvelous thing that in establishing and opening this dispensation our Father did so with a revelation of himself and of his Son Jesus Christ, as if to say to all the world that he was weary of the attempts of men, earnest though these attempts might have been, to define and describe him. Strange as it seems, we alone, among all the great organizations that worship God, have a true description and a true definition of him. The experience of Joseph Smith in a few moments in the grove on a spring day in 1820 (JS—H 1:17), brought more light and knowledge and understanding of the personality and reality and substance of God and his Beloved Son than men had arrived at during centuries of speculation. Notwithstanding the declaration at Jordan at the time of the Savior's baptism when the voice of the Father was heard (Matt. 3:16-17), and notwithstanding the events on the Mount of Transfiguration when again the voice of the Father was heard (Matt. 17:5), men somehow evidently had been unable to realize the separate entities of the Father and the Son, their relationship and their reality.
I want to say that when we started emphasizing in our missionary program the truth about God as a basic and fundamental and primary principle, and began to encourage those who were willing to listen to get on their knees and ask him in the name of his Son Jesus Christ concerning the truth of that teaching, we began to get converts in such numbers as we had not had in many, many years.
The second great revelation received in this dispensation was the testimony of another nation, speaking from the dust of the divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ as the God of this world, our resurrected Savior and Redeemer. When we have been able to get people to read the Book of Mormon prayerfully, we have seen realized in their lives the fulfillment of the words of Moroni (Moro. 10:4) that they would know the truth of that record—that it is verily the word of God, and a testimony of Jesus.
Came next the bestowal of the priesthood, the authority to act in the name of God, conferred by John the Baptist, and then by Peter, James, and John. It seems to me that any man of any church who has ever had administered to him religious ordinances might well ask, as many have done, by what authority this has been accomplished.
When that most significant conversation took place between Peter and the Savior, in which Peter declared, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God," and Jesus replied, "Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven," the Savior then went on to say, among other things:
"And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven" (Matt. 16:16-17,19).
We have to offer to those of other faiths, with all that they now have, the restoration of these marvelous keys and the blessing of the priesthood, under which every worthy man may be a priest in his own right, with power and authority to bless, to teach, and to govern in the affairs of the kingdom of God.
Came next the organization of the Church—the Church of Jesus Christ—"built upon the foundation of apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone," all fitly framed together in fulfillment of the words of Paul to the Ephesian Saints (Eph. 2:20-21). To me it is a singular and remarkable thing that with all that our friends have that is wonderful and good and true, there is not a church among them to my knowledge led by prophets who speak as they are moved upon by the Holy Ghost (2 Pet. 1:21), and apostles who stand as living witnesses to all the world of the divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Came after that the great keys, of which President Smith has spoken so beautifully this afternoon, which brought about the opportunity of universal salvation and exaltation. A man said rather smugly one day, "I am saved." I asked, "What about your father?"
He said, "I guess he isn't saved." I said, "Can you believe that in the justice and mercy of God he would make it possible for you to enjoy all the blessings which you claim you have and deny those same blessings to your father and your mother, who gave you all that you have of life and body and mind?"
To me it is one of the serious anomalies of our life that the great religious systems of the world, which teach equity and justice and mercy and kindness, have in their theology nothing of this great principle.
My brethren and sisters, I have had opportunity to study what causes people to join the Church. I have come to the conclusion that it is testimony, which comes into their hearts of the truth of these great revelations, which leads them into the waters of baptism there to covenant with the Lord to keep his commandments and to become citizens in his kingdom.
A friend once asked, "Why in your missionary work do you emphasize the differences between your religion and others? Why not emphasize what you have in common with others?" We praise all that others have that is lovely, virtuous, or of good report or praiseworthy (A of F 1:13), and add to those many virtues which they now have, the great virtues which have come of the revelations of God to the Prophet Joseph Smith in this dispensation for the blessing of their lives and the lives of all who come after them who will keep the faith, of which I bear testimony this day in the name of the Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.