Bring in solid converts and continue to help them remain active after they are baptized, challenged President Gordon B. Hinckley in a missionary meeting March 7.
About 1,100 missionaries from the California Los Angeles, California Arcadia, California San Fernando, California Ventura and California Anaheim missions gathered in the Glendale stake center to hear the Church president. He also addressed a gathering of young single adults at the stake center following the missionary meeting.He was accompanied by his wife, Marjorie, who also spoke, and by Elder Loren C. Dunn of the Seventy and president of the North America West Area, and his wife, Sharon. Elder and Sister Dunn also spoke at the missionary and young single adult meetings. Elder Douglas L. Callister, area authority, and his wife, Jeannette, also addressed the young single adult meeting.
President Hinckley said missionaries have a responsibility to those they baptize to help them be "faithful and true, dyed-in-the-wool Latter-day Saints, with a conviction in their hearts concerning the truth of this great work. Now, this is going to become an issue all over the Church. It is a matter that deeply concerns me."
"My brothers and sisters, please, I plead with you: Do all you can to see that those who you baptize are not baptisms only but solid true converts to this Church who will remain so," he said.
"The Book of Mormon speaks of missionaries who taught so faithfully and so well that those they baptized never did fall away. (See Alma 23:6.) Now that ought to be our standard and our motto."
He asked missionaries to continue to encourage those they baptize to participate in Church activity.
"I don't believe there is any reason why a convert to this Church should leave again in a short time."
He said the converts, having been baptized, should go on to receive the priesthood, become worthy to come to the temple and enjoy "all the rich and wonderful blessings we have to offer. And you are a part of that process, my brothers and sisters."
He encouraged missionaries to spend part of their time working with new converts and the less-active "to nurture, and help and assist."
"Perhaps home teachers who have a great sense of obligation to these people will reach out and put their arms around them and let them know that they have as true and wonderful of friend in them as they have in the missionaries who baptized them."
President Hinckley recounted a personal experience from his mission when he baptized a young man who began attending Church. This young man became a secretary in the Mutual, but he made a mistake in the records and was "dressed down" by the superintendent, a "tough old British sailor." Afterward he never returned to Church.
Later, when he returned to England, President Hinckley searched out and visited this convert, whose records were then in the "lost and unknown" file.
"But he had been wounded so seriously that he never came back," said President Hinckley. He said he visited the man several times, including after the convert retired and moved to Switzerland.
"I received a letter from his wife. She said her husband had died. I said to myself, `Did you do enough to try and bring him back?' I counted him as one of the greatest failures of my life.
"His wife . . . said he counted me as his dearest friend. All I can say is that I have mourned the passing of that good man whom I baptized 63 years ago in London."
At the young single adult meeting, President Hinckley encouraged the young members to forget themselves in service to others.
"Don't worry," he counseled. "Just go forward with your lives. Don't become obsessed with the idea of getting married. The chances are, the less you think about it, the more likely it will happen."
He urged them to believe in their capacity to do good.
"Believe in yourselves and in your capacity to do something worthwhile. Never forget who you are. You are a child of God with unlimited potential."
He encouraged them to become disciples of Christ and study and follow the Savior's teachings.
"Believe in Jesus Christ. He has done something for you that is beyond your capacity to understand. He died for you; He bled for you, He saved you. He wrought the great atonement which made possible your growth and development and blessing."