An interesting part in Church history took place about 9 months after the Church was organized. James Covill was a Baptist minister who had preached for about 40 years. He approached Joseph Smith convinced that Joseph was a true prophet of God and covenanted that he would obey any command the Lord would give to him through the Prophet Joseph Smith. (HOC 1:143) What took place can teach each of you about your calling as a missionary from a living prophet with the assignment to work in the Belgium Netherlands Mission.
Every call to serve in the building of Zion in the latter-days requires personal sacrifices. I would summarize my known personal sacrifices to come here were: money not earned and money spent, a previous lifestyle that was fulfilling, relations with friends and family placed on-hold, and missing 3 years of 12 grandkids growing up. (Upon closer look I might also add 3 golf seasons.) Each of you can identify sacrifices that you gave up to be here to do something that is difficult and tiring. I have a profound respect for many of you whose sacrifice is much greater do to difficult family and other situations.
James Covill was called in a personal revelation through Joseph Smith to labor in the mission field by preaching the gospel and baptizing people into the Church. The Lord told James Covill that He knew him, that his heart was now right, the Lord has bestowed great blessings upon Mr Covill’s head and that repentance, baptism and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost are essential if one would receive Christ.:
10 But, behold, the days of thy deliverance are come, if thou wilt hearken to my voice, which saith unto thee: Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on my name…” (DC 39:10)
The marvelous promises made to James Covill by the Lord include: (DC 39)
· He would receive the Spirit and a blessing so great as he never has known
· He would be prepared for a greater work to preach the fullness of my gospel
· Power would rest upon him
· He would have great faith
· I will be with him and go before his face
· He would labor in my vineyard, build the church and bring forth Zion, it will rejoice
· His converts will have poured upon their heads a blessing such as is not known among children of men,
However, James Covill, like you and me, had to sacrifice; give something up. For him to accept the call would require him to confess to his followers that he had found more truth, he would need to move to Ohio to be with the Saints, forsake his previous beliefs and he would have to find a new way to make a living. James Covill decided to reject the revelation of God and return to his former principles and people. He was convinced of the truth and we get a signal of what went wrong in verse 9, “…thou hast seen great sorrow, for thou hast rejected me many times because of pride and the cares of the world…” He could not let the comforts of the world go. Later we read:
“1 Behold, verily I say unto you, that the heart of my servant James Covel was right before me, for he covenanted with me that he would obey my word.
2 And he received the word with gladness, but straightway Satan tempted him; and the fear of persecution and the cares of the world caused him to reject the word.
3 Wherefore he broke my covenant, and it remaineth with me to do with him as seemeth me good. Amen.” (DC 40)
These sections in the DC are there because they are written to you and me as well as James Covill. It is well to examine yourself and your own behavior, to evaluate how you measure up. You have been called on a mission and you promised to leave behind all worldly cares as you dedicate your life to His service – your heart was right as you covenanted with the Lord to obey when you received your call with gladness. Now, are the cares of the world or pride causing you to reject the commitment?
In the past conferences you have been asked to set a spiritual goal for baptisms during the rest of your mission. This is a minimum goal that you feel God has confirmed. You have your agency and can do what you want. But, I encourage you to be bold and take a stand. Your mission only happens once so go for greatness not mediocrity. Do not deflect to a modest goal such as do my best, testimony growth, spiritual experiences, etc. We were called to find, teach and baptize. The spiritual goal is to do just that. Testimony growth and spiritual experiences come indirectly when you go out and do the work of finding, teaching and baptizing. You could be home with your parents studying to have a stronger testimony. Now is the time to step up and give it your best shot. It is the Lord’s mission. Give it to him.
You heard the Assistants launch Project Stroop Wafel. That was no accident. You were asked to identify 10 things you hold on to that distract you from The Total Mind Shift. Then do a 40 day fast or sacrifice of those things; give them up. This is a step beyond. You sacrificed to come here, and now you are asked to sacrifice the distractions you still hold on to that keep you from The Total Mind Shift. The scriptures are full of promised blessings such as James Covill received that are predicated on, “…if you will cease doing that…” Reaching your spiritual goal of baptisms is worth the sacrifice of what is holding you back.
The Total Mind Shift involves praying for success, remembering nothing is too hard for the Lord, realizing the field is truly white ready to harvest, the silver bullet is the Holy Ghost so allow yourself to be lead and, finally, staying on purpose to find, teach and baptize.