When we first came on our mission, we really had no idea what a call to serve in Self-Reliance meant. Now that we have rounded the ¾ mark of our mission time spent here in France, Belgium and Switzerland, we can truly say that we are 100% converts to the initiative. We can also say with conviction that the concept of Self-Reliance is a principle of salvation. The initiative is inspired and must surely be the “Noah’s ark for our day.” The Lord is in charge, and He knows what is needed for his people to prepare them for the Second Coming. Doctrine and Covenants 104:15 “ And is my purpose to provide for my saints for all things are mine.”
The Self-Reliance Initiative through its many facets and courses teaches spiritual as well as temporal self-reliance. To the Lord, all things are spiritual; they are at no time separate and are interdependent. President Uchtdorf explains that they are like two sides of a coin that cannot be pulled apart. At first I had a hard time with the term “spiritual self-reliance” because it seemed to imply that we could do it all ourselves without the Savior. But now I understand that it means that we have our own strong and lasting relationship with the Lord without relying on other human beings for the foundation of our faith. Our faith is in Christ and we realize that we are totally dependent on His power and grace. Becoming self-reliant makes us more like Him, the supreme example of self-reliance who wants us to have the peace, hope and sense of progress that come from working on and achieving our self-reliance goals. This is in direct opposition to what the adversary wants for us; dependence, slavery and misery.
Elder Ballard’s conference address in last April’s 2017 General Conference entitled “Return and Receive” states that those who are most successful in this life and most prepared for the next are those with a strong vision of where they are headed and tactical goals to keep them focused. He reminds us that God, the Father has given us the perfect example of goal setting and planning. His goal is “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man [and woman], and His means to achieve it is the plan of salvation."
Self-Reliance courses have an impressive goal setting component with regular evaluations of where we are, where we are headed, how we are planning to get there, and then, the crucial element of “returning and reporting” is featured.
We have planted many seeds on our mission but don’t always get to see the fruits of our labors. Last week we were blessed to see the fruits. Last March we had participated in a ward council meeting where members who could benefit from a Self-Reliance devotional were identified and invited. We went with the Bishop of the Nancy ward to find and invite three inactive families to church and our Self-Reliance fireside. All three families came to church the next day, stayed for the ward luncheon, and participated in the fireside that we presented. Better still, one couple signed up for a self-reliance group and then completed the course. We were privileged to return for the ceremony months later where participants received their certificates of completion. We were very moved by the testimony of this same brother who said the course brought him and his wife closer together, got them coming to church again, and helped them learn to pay their tithing among other important goals. We are grateful to have come full circle, sharing this thrilling moment with visible, unforgettably delicious fruit!
|Self-Reliance Certificate Awarding Ceremony|
Jessy bearing his testimony about his Self-Reliance experience
Jessy's wife receiving her certificate
Jessy paying his tithing