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Elder Soares Invites Young Adults Worldwide to Draw Near to Jesus Christ

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“Diligently draw near to our Savior … and feel the intensity of His love for you,” Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said during a Worldwide Devotional for Young Adults on Sunday, February 18, 2024.

Coming unto Jesus Christ gives us a “lasting inner peace and a sanctuary in a tumultuous and ever-changing world,” Elder Soares taught during a live broadcast from Mexico City, Mexico, to viewers across North and South America.

The event recorded in Spanish and subtitled in other languages will be rebroadcast on Sunday, February 25, to other areas of the world. It was the first time an entire event produced for a global audience was broadcast in a non-English language.

Referencing the opening song, “Where Can I Turn for Peace?” and a painting of Savior with His arms outstretched found in the Church Office Building in Salt Lake City, Elder Soares said Jesus stands at the gates of our daily lives with open arms and a promise to encircle us in the arms of His love. “We can know that the space between His arms has been consecrated through His loving atoning sacrifice as a place for us,” he said.

Elder Soares was joined by his wife, Rosanna, and Chad Webb, administrator of Seminaries and Institutes of Religion, and his wife, Kristi, who all shared comments and testimonies.

They addressed five topics gleaned from questions young adults from around the world recorded and submitted, some of which were shown during the broadcast:

  1. Strengthening our testimony
  2. Enduring trials
  3. Following God’s plan for us
  4. Preparing to enter and worship in the temple
  5. Focusing our life on Jesus Christ

1. Strengthening Our Testimony

“Learn of me” (Matthew 11:29), the Lord has invited, and He will direct our paths and help us find rest, Elder Soares said. He shared President Russell M. Nelson’s five suggestions for obtaining a greater testimony and witness of Jesus Christ:

  1. Get on the covenant path and stay there.
  2. Discover the joy of daily repentance.
  3. Learn about God and how He works.
  4. Seek and expect miracles.
  5. End conflict in your personal life (“The Power of Spiritual Momentum,” April 2022 general conference).

President Nelson promised that acting on these five principles will give us the ability to move forward on the covenant path, strength to resist temptation, freedom from fear, and greater unity in our families.

Faith is demonstrated by action, which builds and strengthens testimony, Elder Soares said. “We will keep Christ alive in us and we will live our lives rooted and built up in Him.”

Sister Soares said the best way to help those who have lost their way return to the path of the Gospel is to “love God and the person very much and be the best example you can be.” Avoid belittling or passing unrighteous judgment, she sad. The more we love God and obey His commandments, the more love we will feel for others wherever they are on the path of discipleship. “I think people have to feel loved,” she said.

2. Enduring Trials

A common misconception is that we won’t have trials if we are striving to be righteous, said Elder Soares. “The truth is we will face adversities regardless of how righteous we are.” Blessings will often come later and always according to God’s will and timing. Turn your heart and trust to the Savior, said Elder Soares. “The Savior can better than anyone else heal the effects of mortality.”

Trials and tests may be viewed as opportunities to grow, said Elder Soares. They will show us and the Lord that we will do all that He asks us to do. “He knows that we can do hard things,” he said. No trial is wasted but will develop our characters and help us become “more worthy to be called the children of God.”

Sister Soares said people react differently to trials. “We just have to keep going and be patient,” she said.

3. Following God’s Plan for Us

Brother Web testified that “God is in the details in our lives.” He said he first learned this concept after receiving his patriarchal blessing and feeling God’s love for him. The lesson was reinforced while seeking employment after his mission. Despite his righteous endeavors, he didn’t get a job he applied for and felt disappointed. However, he later obtained a job where he met his future wife, Kristi. “We can trust [God] with all of our hearts,” he said.

“God indeed has a plan for us,” said Elder Soares, testifying that as we make righteous decisions, we determine how well we are following God’s plan for us.

4. Preparing to Enter and Worship in the Temple

We go to the temple to learn how to access the full power of Christ’s Atonement and learn how to prepare to return to God’s presence clean and holy, taught Brother and Sister Webb.

We can prepare spiritually to enter and worship in the temple by striving to be morally clean and avoid things that limit the influence of the Holy Ghost in our lives, said Brother Webb. Repentance and Christ’s Atonement make it possible to be worthy.

Sister Webb encouraged young adults to talk about the temple with others before and after attending the temple for the first time. “It’s great to have questions; that’s how we learn.” She said to also take questions to the Lord so He can teach through revelation. “The more you attend, the more He will teach,” she said.

ChurchofJesusChrist.org/temples has several helpful resources, said Brother Webb. In addition, “learn about the ancient tabernacle described in the Old Testament,” he said. Although modern symbols are different, the principles are similar and can help young adults prepare for their own experience.

Sister Webb said young adults can know when it is time to attend the temple when they desire greater spiritual knowledge like the prophet Abraham did. She recalled feeling a “deep hunger” to know God’s plan for her and how to be a more steadfast disciple, which others helped her recognize as her readiness to enter the temple.

5. Focusing Our Life on Jesus Christ

“Jesus is ready, willing and able to encircle us with His love,” Elder Soares said. Lasting happiness comes the more we draw closer to and become more like Him.

“Perfectionism is not the same as being perfect in Christ,” Sister Soares said, quoting Elder Vern P. Stanfill, General Authority Seventy (“The Imperfect Harvest,” April 2023 general conference ). As we accept the Savior’s invitation to come unto Him, the Holy Ghost helps us become more like Him. We will recognize our best is good enough because of the grace of a loving Savior, who makes up the difference in ways we cannot imagine.

The Savior’s arms are wide open, ready to encircle us in His love, even and especially when we feel lost, forsaken, or all alone, said Elder Soares. “The sacred space between the Savior’s arms is exactly the size and shape of our broken hearts, battered lives, wounded souls and weary minds.”

The devotional was available live in American Sign Language, Cambodian, English (closed caption), French, Japanese, Korean, Mongolian, Portuguese (closed caption), Samoan, Spanish (closed caption), Tagalog, Thai, Tongan, Ukrainian, and Vietnamese. And, for first time for this kind of devotional, live languages also included Chuukese, Guarani, Hmong, Kekchi, Navajo and Persian.

The recorded video may also be viewed later on demand  in Gospel Library. Use the hashtag #WWdevo on social media to share thoughts and impressions.

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