In his Jan. 13 instruction to newly called MTC presidents, visitors’ center and historic sites directors and their wives, Elder Gregory A. Schwitzer of the Seventy focused on the gift of repentance and the key role it plays in the lives of missionaries.
“I love repentance because I’m a healer — I’m a doctor,” said Elder Schwitzer, a seasoned physician.
During his professional career, he experienced the joy of watching patients recover from serious injuries or illness.
“There is no greater feeling than, say, sitting at the bedside of someone with no blood pressure, then watching it rise up and see their color return,” he said.
But the miracle of physical healing, he added, is only slightly comparable “to watching a soul come back to Christ.”
Heavenly Father has blessed His children with the gift of repentance, he noted. “I hope we look at repentance as a gift,” he said, “because it is.”
Since Adam and Eve, God has demonstrated His love by providing people with a way to overcome sin.
“Repentance is the gateway to accessing the Atonement of Jesus Christ and returning to our Heavenly Father.”
In sacred scriptures, the Lord has revealed the importance of repentance. King Benjamin taught: “But wo, wo unto him who knoweth that he rebelleth against God! For salvation cometh to none such except it be through repentance and faith on the Lord Jesus Christ” (Mosiah 3:12).
Elder Schwitzer said some people regard repentance as an act of justice; in fact, it is an act of mercy and love. He said the new presidents and directors and their wives will have a sacred opportunity to work with missionaries who have gone through the redeeming experience of repentance. Such experiences will serve them well as they teach and testify of repentance to others.
The scriptures are replete with great missionaries who knew, first hand, of the gift and life-changing blessing of repentance.
It was Peter, said Elder Schwitzer, who experienced a great trial when he denied the Christ. The Bible does not detail Peter's repentance process, but does say “And he went out and wept.”
For Peter, “It was the beginning of a broken heart and a contrite spirit.”
Later, the Book of Acts records Peter's missionary zeal and conviction as he testifies of Christ. Gone was the passive follower. Repentance allowed Peter to become a powerful, fearless missionary.
“This is what repentance can do for the missionaries who serve with you,” Elder Schwitzer said.
The Book of Mormon, meanwhile, teaches the life-altering role repentance played in the lives of great missionaries such as Alma and the sons of Mosiah. Each lived lives marked by sin. But when they invited the Atonement into their lives and repented they taught with vigor.
Peter, Alma and the sons of Mosiah were responsible for bringing countless people to the waters of baptism.
The Savior Himself taught timeless lessons of repentance in His parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin and the prodigal son. Christ's love for the sinner is evident in each parable.
“Repentance,” Elder Schwitzer concluded, “is a joyful, wonderful blessing.”
[email protected] @JNSwensen