For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)
I love this verse in Romans. Paul’s expression that the Lord loves us and will bring us home has always stuck with me as true. It is a powerful message. Elder Holland recently shared an experience that illustrates the love that God has for all of his children, and that he will do what it takes to find us.
The missionary speech of all time
Elder Holland closed by relating a story—being careful to protect the privacy and anonymity of the participants—of a young man from southern Idaho. One night the young man stormed out of the house and set off to join an infamous motorcycle gang. He succeeded in that resolve and for 20 years became immersed in a culture “of temptations yielded to and degradations explored,” never contacting his parents, who feared that he was dead.
Eventually ending up in Southern California, he one day was sitting on the porch of a rented home when he saw two LDS missionaries making their way up the street.
“With a rush of memory and guilt, regret, and rage, he despised the very sight of them,” Elder Holland recounted. “But he was safe, because he kept all visitors at bay by employing two Doberman Pinschers, who viciously charged the gate every moment that anyone came near.”
The dogs startled the missionaries as they passed by and continued on, “our man on the porch laughing at the lovely little drama he had just witnessed, wishing only that the gate hadn’t restrained his two dogs.”
Then, the two elders stopped, looked at each other, conversed a little, “likely said a silent prayer,” then turned around and approached the gate.
“The Dobermans on cue charged the gate again, hit it, snarling, frothing, and then stopped in their tracks,” Elder Holland said. “They looked at the missionaries, dropped their heads, ambled back to the front steps, and lay down.”
The man on the porch was speechless as the missionaries opened the gate, walked up the path, and greeted him.
“One of the elders said, ‘Are you from this part of California?’
“The man said, ‘No. If you want to know, I’m from Pocatello, Idaho.’
“There was a pause. ‘That’s interesting,’ the elder said. ‘Do you know the [such-and-such] family in Pocatello?’
“With a stunned look, our biker paused, and then, in very measured words, said, ‘Yeah, I know them. They are my parents.’
“‘Well, they’re my parents too,’ the missionary said. ‘God has sent me to invite you to come home.’”
The younger brother had been born after the older boy had left home. The elder brother did not even know of him.
“Mom and Dad have been praying for you every morning and night for 20 years,” the younger brother said. “They were not sure you were alive, but they knew if you were, that someday you would come back to us.”
The wayward son invited the two in, and they talked for the rest of the day and some of the night. He did return home, returned to Church activity, and, in March 2015, was married and sealed in the Boise Idaho Temple.
Commenting on the account, Elder Holland said, “This is a story of the role of Almighty God, the Savior of the World, and the Holy Ghost involved in the work of the ministry to which we’ve been called.
“The Holy Ghost prompted those parents to keep praying, to keep believing, to keep trusting. … The Holy Ghost inspired that rebellious boy to come to himself like the prodigal he was and to head for California. … The Holy Ghost influenced that younger son to serve a mission and be willing to accept a call to Southern California. … The Holy Ghost inspired one of my brethren in the Twelve, who was on the assignment desk that Friday, to trust his impression and assign that young man for service not a great distance from his native-born state. The Holy Ghost inspired that mission president to assign that young missionary to that district and that member unit. The Holy Ghost led those missionaries to that street, that day, that hour, with big brother sitting on the porch waiting, and, with Doberman Pinschers notwithstanding, the Holy Ghost prompted those two elders to stop, talk, and in spite of their fear, to go back and present their message. …
“And, through the elders, the Holy Ghost taught repentance and brought true conversion to one coming back into the fold.”
Elder Holland said the young elder, without realizing it, gave the missionary speech of all time, when he said to his brother, “God has sent me here to invite you to come home.”
“We are sent by God to invite His children home,” Elder Holland concluded. “We do that through the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, on the strength of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Welcome to the divine companionship.” 1
- Elder Holland Shares Account of “Missionary Speech of All Time” with New Mission Presidents, LDS Church News, Contributed By R. Scott Lloyd, Church News staff writer, June 30, 2017.