As many of you know I teach early morning seminary – a scripture study class for teens in high school. Every school day we meet at 6:30 to read and learn from the scriptures. This school year we are studying the New Testament. How I love learning about Jesus Christ! It has been such a joy to study His life and teachings, His calling of the Twelve Apostles, the miracles He performed, and especially the Atonement and Resurrection made on behalf of all mankind.
These week we started studying Acts. We discussed the call of the Apostles to be witnesses of Jesus Christ and how through the Holy Ghost all of us can receive that same witness that Jesus is the Christ. One of the unique ways The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is different from other churches is “we believe in the same organization that existed in the primitive church, namely apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth.” Our church is lead and directed by a prophet and apostles who are each called to be special witnesses of Jesus Christ.
“In our day the Lord has called 15 special witnesses to testify of His divinity before all the world. Theirs is a unique calling; they are Apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ, chosen and commissioned by Him. They have been commanded to bear witness of His living reality by the power and authority of the holy apostleship in them vested” (Gordon B. Hinckley, “Special Witnesses of Christ,” Ensign, Apr. 2001, 4).
My daughter Marie, who is serving as a missionary in the England Birmingham Mission, had the opportunity to meet and listen to one of those apostles, Quentin L. Cook, when he toured the mission last October. Here is what she wrote of the experience:
“We had our conference with Elder and Sister Cook on Monday, and you’re right, I enjoyed it very much. It was pretty amazing. He shook all of our hands (203 of us), and then we opened with ‘Redeemer of Israel’. Right as we started singing the spirit was amazing and flooded in to the chapel. The hall was small, and there were a lot of missionaries contained inside, so the power of our voices was extremely strong. I think the building was vibrating, not just with the music, but with the Spirit. It filled me with such an overwhelming feeling that I almost couldn’t sing.
“Then Elder Cook spoke, and he just talked about different things; his mission and areas in our mission where he’d served, and different things like that. He said Pres. Nelson was also in England, in London, and that later in the week he was going to meet Elder Holland in Israel for an assignment there together.
“I think my favorite part of the conference though was at the end. He talked to us about spiritual experiences, and how we can share them with people to teach and testify, but to be careful when sharing them not to share extremely private, personal ones, and to keep those intimate experiences between ourselves and Heavenly Father alone. He asked us a question that he’d been asked a lot lately, “Does revelation still continue in the church?” Then he answered, “Yes.” He said he wanted us all to be absolutely certain on that, so without breaching the level of intimacy concerning sacred experiences, he said, “I witness of the Lord Jesus Christ, and I know–personally–His face. I’ll say no more, but I want there to be no doubt in your minds that the Lord speaks to man today.” His face was completely aglow when he was speaking, and the Spirit was so potent you could almost feel it tangibly; I don’t think anyone was even breathing. It seemed like time just stopped for a while.
“After that he blessed the mission and most of us were crying. President and Sister Leppard and the assistants were bawling. We sang ‘How Firm a Foundation’ for the closing song, and with all 203 of us singing the sound of voices was pretty magnificent. The whole building just vibrated and echoed; I thought the roof was going to come off. It was amazing. During the closing prayer when it was so quiet and the echoes were dying off, all I could hear was everyone sniffling. I might have been sniffling loudest though. After the prayer we all stood as he exited and Sister Beazer played ‘How Great Thou Art’ on the organ. We remained standing for several minutes after he left just listening to the music, and I don’t think there was a single person in the hall that didn’t have tears streaming down their faces.
“It was such a spiritual experience, and I don’t have to tell you about how I can’t describe it, because we can’t describe our spiritual experiences to other people very well. But the only other times I have felt the Spirit that strong have been in the temple.”
We are so blessed to be lead by living prophets and apostles. You can watch a video of each one testifying of Jesus Christ here. Or read their latest words of counsel and guidance given at our last General Conference here.
While they are called to be special witnesses of Jesus Christ, we too, can be witnesses of Him. As the Lord Himself told Thomas, “Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” (John 20:29)
How do we witness of Jesus Christ? In our actions, not just our words. As we keep the commandments, care for the poor and needy, widowed and fatherless, as we mourn with those that mourn, as we bear each other’s burdens. As we do as Jesus Christ has done we witness of Him. When we receive His image on our countenance we witness to the world of His goodness and mercy.