President Dieter F. Uchtdorf invited new mission presidents — as they begin a new and exciting journey as disciples of Christ — “to consider the example of the apostle Peter, who overcame his fears and became a courageous missionary and leader of the Church.”
“We can learn not only from Peter, we can learn from all missionaries who have the same kind of commitment and dedication — missionaries like the many you find in all missions around the globe — missionaries like those who will serve with you,” said President Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency. “Each day, let us remind ourselves that we are disciples of the Savior, Jesus Christ. And because He is with us, we do not fear.”
Speaking at the 2014 Seminar for New Mission Presidents in Provo, Utah, on June 24, President Uchtdorf addressed the topic, “Fear Not, I Am With Thee.”
“My dear friends, my beloved brothers and sisters, I am grateful to be with you as you embark on this great and marvelous journey to proclaim the Savior’s message to the nations of the world,” he told the mission leaders.
President Uchtdorf said as he prepared an Easter message earlier this year, the question arose of why the Church doesn’t celebrate more openly the events surrounding Easter.
“As members of the Church we actually celebrate Easter week every Sunday by partaking of the sacrament,” he said. “It was on the Thursday before Easter Sunday when the sacrament was established. As we partake of the sacrament, we recommit ourselves to remember the Savior’s sacrifice and to keep His commandments. At the same time, we are promised to have His Spirit to be with us at all times and at all places.”
President Uchtdorf asked the mission leaders to think about what happened during the week following Palm Sunday and culminating in Easter Sunday — when Jesus Christ rose triumphant from the tomb. “He broke the bonds of death and made it possible for all mankind to be resurrected,” he explained.
“For us as missionaries, as servants of the Lord, this is the core message we take to the world. Make sure that your missionaries never forget this. Keep this in mind when you and your missionaries partake of the sacrament on Sundays, and when you invite people to attend sacrament services with you. Partaking of the sacrament is a very sacred act. If you explain to those who seek truth what the gospel and the sacrament can be to them, you will touch their hearts.
“Because of Christ’s sinless life and through the profound miracle of the Atonement, He created a way for us to be purified and glorious — a way for us to return to our Heavenly Father and to receive eternal life.”
But it is also interesting what else happened as a result of His rising from the tomb, said President Uchtdorf. “This act of love transformed a band of frightened, worried, disciples into a dynamic group of fearless missionaries who changed the world.”
He told the new mission leaders that the events of that day have the potential and power to do the same for every servant of the Lord, “for every one of you who is proclaiming and teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
After His Resurrection, the Savior appeared to His disciples and invited them to touch Him and see for themselves that He lived, noted President Uchtdorf.
“It is remarkable to me how things changed after that day. Before His death, Jesus’ disciples were mostly in the role of witnesses and followers. They observed and learned, and they witnessed the Savior’s acts and teachings.
“But everything changed for them after Christ rose from the tomb.”
President Uchtdorf said Peter, the great senior apostle, is of particular interest.
“Here was a man who was no stranger to adversity — he was a man’s man. How often had he steadied the rudder of his small fishing vessel during a threatening storm? How often had he bartered with shrewd merchants for the price of his fish?
“And yet, what do we see in this ‘rock’ of a man prior to the Resurrection? Among other things, we see fear!”
But from the moment Peter saw the risen Christ, he was transformed, said President Uchtdorf. “He was a different man. Along with James and John, he was a true leader. No longer was he afraid.”
Peter fearlessly spoke in public places — even the temple itself, President Uchtdorf said.
“From that Easter Sunday morning on, Peter was a new man. He had been born again. For the rest of his life, Peter faced threats, ridicule, hatred and humiliation. But he did not back down. He feared no man. Nothing kept him from fulfilling his mission to raise his voice as a witness of his Savior, Jesus Christ.”
Then President Uchtdorf asked the mission presidents: “What does this have to do with your sacred callings to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ? What does this have to do with your responsibilities to lead [missions]?
“My dear brothers and sisters, it has everything to do with you. This is at the core of your calling. Each day you put on your name tag, your badge of honor, you declare to the world that you are disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. Like Peter, you have taken upon yourselves the name of the Lord and the great responsibility to spread the happy and glorious news of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
He told the mission leaders that every day of their mission they will be faced with choices similar to what Peter had to make.
“Among the 86,000 missionaries serving today there are many who, like Peter, are fearless in proclaiming the truth. They approach each day with renewed vigor. Even in the face of ridicule, apathy and hatred they raise their pure and joyful voices to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.
“Of course, there are also some who are afraid, as Peter once was.
“But in a sense, we are all like Peter. We each can see the fruits of Christ’s life, Atonement and Resurrection in our discipleship.”
President Uchtdorf promised the mission presidents and their wives that as they incline their hearts and minds to the Savior, He will lift them and strengthen them. “He will visit you with knowledge, peace and courage. He will lighten your sorrows. He will bless your family at home, even your extended families. He will take care of you and the things you worry about. He will prepare the way for you and send His angels to surround and uphold you.
“He will help you to overcome fear and rise up and become even greater men and women of God.”