In Doctrine and Covenants 18:10 we are taught that the worth of souls is great in the sight of God. From this scripture we can learn to love, serve and minister to others, thereby helping them return with joy to Heavenly Father.
To save souls, many of our young single adults and other leaders of youth participated in the training for and implementation of a new annual activity authorized by the Caribbean Area Presidency for youth 14 to 18 years of age – Special Multi-Stake Youth Conferences. In 2011 the first of these special multi-stake youth conference was held in Puerto Rico, where we saw many young men and young women touched by the Spirit as they participated in various activities and shared with one another. All of this was made possible by the hard work and enthusiasm of the young single adult and adult leaders.
In 2012 the conference, held in the Dominican Republic, was called “Arise and shine forth”, based on the mutual theme for this year. (Doctrine and Covenants 115:5). The weekly sessions began 2 July and ended 21 July. A total of about 1,750 young men and young women, along with 268 leaders participated in the three separate weekly sessions of the conference.
There were great challenges to find an appropriate place where the different events could be held and organize the logistics. But thanks to great sacrifice and efforts of many, the Lord blessed all who participated with wonderful experiences. As we visited the morning devotionals the Spirit was so strong that it seemed that we were on sacred ground. We saw the fulfillment of the counsel given by Alma to his son Helaman in Alma 37 where he instructed him to learn wisdom in his youth.
After each weekly session ended and the youth had returned to their homes, we began to hear testimonies from those who had participated because they wanted to share their feelings about the experience. One Saturday, my wife and I arrived at the temple after a week at the conference. There we found youth who decided to come to the temple to do baptisms as a way to express thanks to God for what they had experienced during the conference. The social networks, emails and text messages were full of testimonies expressed by the youth, parents and leaders about the great change of heart and the powerful spirit that they had experienced. “And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children.” (3 Nephi 22:13)
I know the impact that this program has had on the youth. Even greater is the impact on youth that participate sincerely in seminary and institute. These programs create a bridge between the youth and the Savior; because they help the youth draw near to God. By daily reading the scriptures, applying true principles and building friendships with other youth who live gospel standards, the youth establish a strong foundation.
We invite you to participate
Loving and wise parents will encourage and help their youth to actively participate in seminary and institute. Each year we see how thousands of youth are touched by these programs, becoming truly converted. Their testimonies grow strong, thus preparing them to face the great challenges and make the important decisions that lie ahead. As the Lord said in Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” To this scripture President Spencer W. Kimball added the comforting assurance that if they do stray after having been properly taught, they will come back.
Beloved friends, the Father has given us many tools in the last days to help us in our roles as parents in Zion. He has also revealed inspired programs to our leaders to help strengthen the testimonies of our youth. But these programs are not enough by themselves. Our youth need our help and involvement so that these programs can have the intended effect on them…and on us. How beautiful it is to see a mother helping her daughter with personal progress, both working together on the goals and projects. What a wonderful thing for father to work together with his son to complete the Duty to God program. I had the experience of helping my sons complete a goal of competing in a 30 kilometer bike race. It was hard for me, but my desire to help my sons reach this goal was enough to get me past the pain so that I could see them achieve something important to them. I testify that it was more than worth all that it cost me.
I testify of the great strength that these programs have in our lives. The Lord gave me the opportunity to participate in each one of them myself. Now that I am a father and have children, I can see more profoundly their importance. I testify that the Lord will bless our youth and guide them as they put forth their best efforts to apply the principles that they learn through these programs.
Parents, leaders, and youth, these programs can assist us to ‘arise and shine forth’. In so doing we obey the commandment of the Lord: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify you Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)