`Be ready always to give answer'

"The influence of your personal testimonies is ever so far reaching," said President Thomas S. Monson at the April 1988 general conference. "The Lord instructed, `The testimony which ye have borne is recorded in heaven for the angels to look upon; and they rejoice over you, and your sins are forgiven you.' (D&C 62:3.)

"He also cautioned us, `With some I am not well pleased, for they will not open their mouths, but they hide the talent which I have given unto them, because of the fear of man.' " (D&C 60:2.)President Monson, now first counselor in the First Presidency, said that one never knows when his or her turn will come to comply with the admonition of Peter to "be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you." (1 Pet. 3:15.)

President Monson spoke of an opportunity he once had to address a business convention in Dallas, Texas, sometimes called "the city of churches." He said that after the convention, he took a sightseeing bus ride about the city's suburbs. "Our driver would comment, On the left you see the Methodist church,' orhere on the right is the Catholic cathedral,' " President Monson said.

"As we passed a beautiful red brick building situated upon a hill, the driver exclaimed, That building is where the Mormons meet.' A lady from the rear of the bus asked,Driver, can you tell us something more about the Mormons?' The driver steered the bus to the side of the road, turned about in his seat, and replied, `Lady, all I know about the Mormons is that they meet in that red brick building. Is there anyone on this bus who knows anything about the Mormons?'

"I gazed at the expression on each person's face for some sign of recognition, some desire to comment. I found nothing - not a sign. Then I realized the truth of the statement, `When the time for decision arrives, the time for preparation is past.' For the next 15 minutes I had the privilege of sharing with others my testimony concerning The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."

President Monson said that the seeds of testimony frequently do not at once take root and flower. "Bread cast upon the water returns, at times, only after many days," he said in telling about answering the telephone one evening. The caller asked if he was related to an Elder Monson who had served years before in the New England Mission.

"I answered that such was not the case," President Monson said. "The caller introduced himself as a Brother Leonardo Gambardella and then mentioned that an Elder Monson and an Elder Bonner called at his home long ago and bore their personal testimonies to him. He had listened but had done nothing further to apply their teachings. Subsequently he moved to California where, after 13 years, he again found the truth and was converted and baptized. Brother Gambardella then asked if there were a way he could reach these elders who had first visited with him, that he might express to them his profound gratitude for their testimonies, which had remained with him.

"I checked the records. I located the elders. Can you imagine their surprise when, now married with families of their own, I telephoned them and told them the good news - even the culmination of their early efforts. They remembered Brother Gambardella and, at my suggestion, telephoned him to extend their congratulations and welcome him into the Church."

President Monson added: "You can make a difference. Whom the Lord calls, the Lord qualifies. This promise extends not only to missionaries, but also to home teachers, quorum leaders, presidents of branches, and bishops of wards. When we qualify ourselves by our worthiness, when we strive with faith nothing wavering to fulfill the duties appointed to us, when we seek the inspiration of the Almighty in the performance of our responsibilities, we can achieve the miraculous."