I was reading in Helaman 8 in the Book of Mormon today, when I noticed an interesting insight into the power of member missionary work. In this story, Nephi, the son of Helman, has returned to Zarahelma to preach repentance to the people. He returned because they kicked him out the first time, refusing to hear what he tried to say. So, he came back, and preached that “except [they] repent, [they] shall perish; yea, even [their] lands shall be taken from [them], and [they] shall be destroyed from off the face of the earth” (Hel. 7:28). Needless to say, this didn’t go over well with the corrupt judges and angry people. In fact, we read in Helaman 8:4-6,
4 And those judges were angry with him because he spake plainly unto them concerning their secret works of darkness; nevertheless, they durst not lay their own hands upon him, for they feared the people lest they should cry out against them.
5 Therefore they did cry unto the people, saying: Why do you suffer this man to revile against us? For behold he doth condemn all this people, even unto destruction; yea, and also that these our great cities shall be taken from us, that we shall have no place in them.
6 And now we know that this is impossible, for behold, we are powerful, and our cities great, therefore our enemies can have no power over us.
Their goal is to anger up their people against Nephi, which they manage to an extent. However, there are still some who believe on his words, as we read in Hel. 8: 7-9
7 And it came to pass that thus they did astir up the people to anger against Nephi, and raised contentions among them; for there were some who did cry out: Let this man alone, for he is a good man, and those things which he saith will surely come to pass except we repent;
8 Yea, behold, all the judgments will come upon us which he has testified unto us; for we know that he has testified aright unto us concerning our iniquities. And behold they are many, and he knoweth as well all things which shall befall us as he knoweth of our iniquities;
9 Yea, and behold, if he had not been a prophet he could not have testified concerning those things.
Although the text doesn’t explicitly say so, I imagine that the people who believed that Nephi was a prophet were not in the majority. Yet, they lifted up their voices and witnessed of Nephi’s diving calling and the truth of his words. These faithful people raised their voices against the clamor and anger of worldly leaders and friends and neighbors. Perhaps some stayed silent for fear of these other voices, thinking that their small contribution would not make a difference in the larger battle at hand. But what was the consequence for those who did raise their voices? Well, there were enough of them, or at least they had passion enough, to cause some fear amongst those with dissident voices. In fact, we read in Hel. 8:10-11,
10 And it came to pass that those people who sought to destroy Nephi were compelled because of their fear, that they did not lay their hands on him; therefore he began again to speak unto them, seeing that he had gained favor in the eyes of some, insomuch that the remainder of them did fear.
11 Therefore he was constrained to speak more unto them saying: Behold, my brethren, have ye not read that God gave power unto one man, even Moses, to smite upon the waters of the Red Sea, and they parted hither and thither, insomuch that the Israelites, who were our fathers, came through upon dry ground, and the waters closed upon the armies of the Egyptians and swallowed them up?
Basically, as I read this, Nephi saw that some people raised their voices as additional witnesses of the truth he spoke; some people stood with him despite the anger and threats of opposing voices. And that small thing, that seemingly minor action of member missionaries testifying of truth, opened the way for Nephi to speak more unto the people of Zarahemla, to testify further of the joyous coming of Christ, and to ultimately open the way for more people to believe (you’ll have to read more in Helaman for the rest of the story).
My voice is simple, small, and singular, but with it I will raise my voice in praise and joy, knowing that my Savior, Jesus Christ, liveth and loveth and leadeth, knowing that God calls prophets in our days to be watchmen on the tower, to show us the way, the truth, and the life of Jesus Christ, to help us repent and follow in His footsteps. God has given us His word through the scriptures–in the Bible and the Book of Mormon–to witness of His Son, and show us the way back to him. I know that Thomas S. Monson speaks for God. I know that Christ leads the restored and true Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on the earth, through President Monson, and that there is eternal truth and we can know it.