Years ago, as I was preparing to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I was told a story that had a powerful influence upon not only my mission, but also the rest of my life.
A young man whom I knew was called to serve a mission in Italy. He was so excited to go and teach the gospel of Jesus Christ to his brothers and sisters in the great country of Italy. He knew that the message he was going to share was true. The Church of Jesus Christ had once again been restored to the Earth—the same church that existed in the New Testament. The priesthood power and authority, which had been lost with the death of the ancient apostle, were once more upon the earth. We have a living prophet upon the earth. Along with the Holy Bible, we have been blessed with another testament of Jesus Christ called The Book of Mormon. This is a record of the Lord’s dealing with the inhabitants of ancient America. Through the restored gospel, we can understand many lost truths including who we are, why we are here, and where we are going.
This young missionary felt he was ready to go and teach and serve. Soon he found himself at the airport with other missionaries all headed for Italy. While waiting for his plane to arrive, a man came near and asked this missionary who he and his companions were. When the missionary answered, the man started asking him questions of what his mission was to do and what he was going to teach. Though the missionary answered all the questions, he did so haltingly, shifting from foot to foot, continuing to look down or at his companions a few feet away for his friends.
The plane arrived and the missionary started to say goodbye when the man asked one more question: “Are you ashamed of the church you belong to?” The missionary quickly and empathetically responded, “No!”
“Are you ashamed of the message you are going to share?” the man asked. Again the young missionary gave the same response: “No!”
“Then why,” asked the man as he turned to leave, “are you acting like it?”
As the young missionary was left to face the answer to this pointed question, he was filled with shame and sorrow. He was not ashamed, was he? If not, then why was he acting in a way that gave that impression? He thought of Paul’s declaration in the New Testament long ago:
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth…”
At that moment, that young missionary set aside the fear that had driven his previous behavior and made the decision that he would live so that no one would ever again doubt that he was not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ, nor that he knew that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is in fact Christ’s Church.
When my friend told me of his experience (for he was the young missionary), I began to ask myself if I ever gave the impression from my words or behavior that I was ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I hoped that the answer was no. Even so, that day I too made the same promise to myself as my friend had: that I would live so that no one would ever again doubt that I was not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
This article was originally published in June 2008. Minor changes have been made.