Thursday, April 30, 2009

David A. Bednar Servant Leader Addresses Taiwan Missionaries and Members Teaching with Great Power

Last week David A. Bednar visited three missions in Taiwan for five days, April 16-20. He made quite an impression on my daughter Sister Flora Bruno who is currently serving in the Taiwan Taipei Mission. Elder James and Judith Phillips reported: "Elder Bednar's soft-spoken, yet powerful messages to the Taiwan saints are captured in a comment he made at the Taipei member meeting. "Because I love you, I simply want to serve and assist you." Elder Bednar is emulating the servant leader model and is patiently addressing practical questions from members and missionaries alike.

Sister Bruno reported from the mission field :

So, now to go further back in history...Elder Bednar came to Taiwan and did meetings with all the missions here, and also he did a broadcast for the members in the cities the mission offices are at, so Kaohsiung, Taichung, and Taipei with the members (which by the way, next month, Kaohsiung and Taichung missions are combining and Taipei will expand and take part of the current Taichung mission if you hadn't heard, so there will only be 2 missions in Taiwan...I'll have to write my friends in Kaohsiung and see what they think of the change and what exactly has been going down...when I have time to write hand letters at all that is) anyways, us Zhongli missionaries were told that we weren't exactly allowed to go to the member meeting, since we would go on Monday to mission conference, so we had no plans to go, but on Sunday after going to our 2 wards that our area covers, we went home to eat and do personal study...and we got a call from the assistant's saying that they needed sister Hill to come interpret for a deaf girl at the conference, so we packed our bags and went to Taipei. We spent the night in the mission housing, then the next day we listened to Elder Bednar and asked questions at mission conference. It was amazing. Both nights he let the audience ask questions and answer them. The time went by really fast, and I was totally intrigued. It was a really spiritually uplifting time. He said a lot of things that I need to improve on. OH! and after mission conference, a man in the front, so some kind of bishop or VIP in Taiwan who had spent the last week with Elder Bednar turned to me and was like "Sister Bruno, so nice to meet you!" Or something to that basically from the conversation with him I found out he is a nice man from Taiwan...who happens to know me through my online blog. EMBARRASSING. I mean, he was nice, he said he had wanted to answer some of my questions about Taiwan he had seen, but it was still embarrassing. And the second time some stranger told me they had seen my Taiwan blog. Gaaah.

But I want to send videos from the MTC and pictures so I'll do a quick quick thing on what Elder Bednar talked about...he told us that our goals as missionaries were to eventually have our members be independent in their faith. That they relied on the Lord and not the missionaries or anyone else. I think that was something really good to hear at the beginning of my mission, because he said we need to teach our investigators one by Jesus did when he let people feel his wounds one by was unique for everyone. So right now before I've ever been able to coherently teach a lesson in Chinese, I already want to be able to make my lessons unique to individuals, because E. Bednar is right, the gospel is a unique experience for everyone, everyone gains and individual testimony, so we need to let our investigators do that by giving them lessons unique to their needs.

And then the other biggest highlight I'll mention is he talked a lot about the natural man, both to the members Sunday night and to us missionaries Monday. He mentioned the scripture about the natural man being an enemy to God when a sweet Chinese girl asked how she could be bold yet meek, and he told her that you could be bold because you KNOW the work you are doing is of God, so you aren't scared to do it, but meek because you know it is the Lord's work and you are weak and dependant on him. And he told the missionaries that we needed to teach the lesson, bring the spirit...and then GET OUT OF THE WAY. To get our natural man out of the way of the investigators feeling the spirit. To teach them not just applications, but the principles and correct doctrine behind applications so they understand what they are doing and why...he mentioned how this is necessary to teach children as well, otherwise they won't understand and be more likely to fall away because they don't have as strong of spiritual power to withstand if they don't understand the doctrine and principle behind the things they are asked to do.

Oh and to Michael, (and my other Priesthood holding readers) a question was asked by a sister about the keys of ministering angels...and E. Bednar said that God won't send literal angels to do stuff that worthy priesthood holders can do, because the priesthood holders have the keys of ministering then he said that the Young Men's responsibility is to strenghten members, so you remember that is your responsibility, so make sure to serve the people who need help when they give you an opportunity and make sure to see if there is anything the missionaries can have you do like visiting inactive members or something so that they can spend their time on teaching lessons! Because the priesthood is really amazing and you are blessed to have it! A lot of people don't have the influence of the priesthood in their lives yet...and that's where I come in with my other fellow missionaries...telling people about it!
Elder Tyler MacKay reported his impressions of the same meeting:

So, elder Bednar came to visit and we had a 3 HOUR Q&A session with a member of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles! Afterwards we got to shake hands with him, his wife, and Elder Watson of the 1st quorum of the 70! It was the most excellent meeting of my life! We talked a lot about asking inspired questions, about teaching doctrines and principles and not so much about how to apply, both to our investigators and to our future children. It was just incredible! He's a really really nice and impressionable man, and definitely an apostle of Jesus Christ who, along with the prophet and members of the 12, hold the keys of the kingdom on the earth today. We had fun, but weren't light-minded, and I had a lot of questions answered, even though I didn't ask any. That was another lesson of his: we might speak and ask questions, but the Holy Ghost teaches, and all we need to do is get out ego's out of the way. It was so incredible! At the very end he told us that if we wanted to know what the judgment would be like, and what it would be like to stand in the presence of Jesus Christ, just look into the eyes of our mission president, or those of an Apostle of the Lord, because we'd condemn ourselves, or not. So I made a definite effort to look him in the eyes, and though it was quick, it was a powerful experience, and I know that he really is a prophet. I just want to keep going, but my time is almost up, and I have to write to president.

The Phillips reported to the Church News

Elder Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve began his Taiwan tour meeting with the missionaries of the Taiwan Kaohsiung Mission on the south end of the island. It concluded with a meeting with the missionaries of the Taiwan Taipei Mission in the island's capital city of Taipei in the north.

Sandwiched between those meetings were a half dozen member and missionary meetings, plus a stake conference. In total, approximately 5,000 Taiwan members and missionaries were taught in the presence of one of the Lord's apostles. Hundreds more witnessed the various meetings by closed-circuit television broadcasts to outlying meetinghouses.

Elder Liang Zhi-kai of Yuan Lin, Taiwan, a missionary in the Taiwan Kaohsiung Mission, considered it a high honor to be in the presence of Elder Bednar. "He taught me to rely on the Spirit in my missionary teaching," he said at the conclusion of the Kaohsiung Mission's three-hour meeting. "It is the Spirit that teaches."

Commented Elder Laren Helms of Manassa, Colo., of the same mission: "I learned that people are converted by the Spirit which has no language barrier," Elder Helms, like all of the non-local missionaries in Taiwan, has had to learn to teach the gospel in Mandarin Chinese.

At all of the mission and general member meetings during Elder Bednar's visit, his primary teaching method was to solicit questions from the congregation. He would then respond to the questions, always concluding his comments by asking the questioner, "Have I responded to your question?"
Elder Bednar has been touring a few missions and has a consistent message:

In both the missionary and member meetings, Elder Bednar emphasized that it is the member's job to find and the missionary's job to teach. He told the missionaries that they are now full-time missionaries, but when they are released they will become "lifelong missionaries."

At the meeting with missionaries of the Taiwan Taichung Mission, Elder Bednar emphasized that missionaries must listen, observe and discern when they teach the gospel. Unless such an approach is used, there can be no teaching, he said.

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