Bishop W. Christopher Waddell arrived Jan. 13 at the 2016 Seminar for New MTC Presidents and Visitors’ Center Directors wearing a red and yellow tie — the national colors of Spain.
His sartorial choice was no accident. Several years ago, the second counselor in the Presiding Bishopric served a full-time mission to Spain. It’s a country he came to love.
The red and yellow tie “reminds me of my [missionary] service as a young man — it reminds me of my experiences with the Spirit.”
Central to those experiences was his testimony of the Book of Mormon. That sacred tome, he taught, is essential to conversion to the gospel and its attendant, eternal blessings.
He shared the account of a young man in Spain who, many years ago, wandered into an open house hosted by missionaries. The young man was given a copy of the Book of Mormon as a gift.
“When he later arrived home he placed the Book of Mormon on the table, never to touch it again.”
But the story of that copy of the Book of Mormon doesn’t end there. A short time later, the young man’s 15-year-old brother discovered the book on the table. He opened its pages and began to read.
“Not long after that he found the missionaries,” said Bishop Waddell. “He was taught, he read the Book of Mormon and he was converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ and was baptized.”
That young convert would later serve a mission, marry in the temple, become a bishop, send his own children on missions and, earlier this year, was called to preside over a mission in South America.
Soon, he and his wife will be able to testify to their missionaries about the influence of the Book of Mormon. “They will be able to show what the Book of Mormon did for them in their conversion.”
Baptism and conversion are not the same thing, he said. One might join the Church without having a testimony of the Book of Mormon. “And there is no conversion without a testimony of the Book of Mormon.”
There is also a difference between missionaries who focus on baptism and missionaries who focus on conversion. Missionaries who seek conversion focus on the “end game” — the temple. A testimony of the Book of Mormon allows families to follow the essential path from baptism to the temple.
“The Book of Mormon is not only the keystone of our religion, it is the key to conversion and the gathering of Israel,” he said. Such a sacred gathering allows for families to go to the temple and be sealed to their families for eternity.
Bishop Waddell said one of the key duties of mission leaders is to teach their elders and sister missionaries how to use the Book of Mormon effectively in their work.
[email protected] @JNSwensen