Experience of M. Russell Ballard light shine

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The Light of the Gospel Literally Shone from Them...

While I was presiding over the Canada Toronto Mission many years ago, our missionaries began teaching a family that was in spiritual darkness. They were poor, uneducated, and their personal appearance reflected a lack of appreciation or concern for normal hygiene and grooming. But they were good, honorable people—among the honest in heart that we always pray for our missionaries to find—and they responded spiritually as they felt for the first time in their lives the peace the gospel offers.

When we learned that they were going to be baptized, Sister Ballard and I attended the baptismal service. I happened to be standing next to the bishop of the ward when the family arrived. In all honesty, I must tell you that they were quite a sight. They looked unkempt, unclean, and somewhat scruffy. Because he had been out of town for a period of time, the bishop had not yet met the newest members of his ward; so this first impression was, to say the least, unimpressive. As they walked away, I thought I could feel his knees begin to buckle.

I put my arm around this good bishop to give him my support — physically as well as spiritually. I felt prompted to say to him: "Bishop, isn't this wonderful? We will make good Latter-day Saints out of them!"

He looked at me, and he smiled. I just couldn't tell if he was smiling because he agreed with me, or if he thought that I might be just another overenthusiastic missionary.

The baptismal service proceeded, and the family was baptized. The next day, we decided to attend that ward to make sure the family was well received when they came to their meetings as new members of the Church.

As the family came into the chapel for sacrament meeting, I was sitting on the stand next to the bishop. The father was wearing a clean white shirt. It was not large enough for him to fasten the top button at the neck, and he was wearing a tie that I could remember seeing on one of my elders. But his face radiated with happiness and peace. The mother and daughters looked like they had been transformed from the previous day. Their dresses were not fancy, but they were clean and lovely. They, too, had that special gospel glow. The little boys wore white shirts that were several sizes too large for them, even with the sleeves rolled up. And they were wearing ties that almost extended down to their knees. It was obvious that the missionaries had put their own white shirts and ties on these little boys so they could come to sacrament meeting appropriately dressed.

They sat with their missionaries, and the light of the gospel literally shone from them. Alma describes this as "[receiving God's] image in your countenances" (Alma 5:14). I leaned over to the bishop again and said: "See, Bishop? We will make Saints out of them!"

Of course, that overnight physical transformation was merely superficial when compared to the overwhelming, more significant spiritual transformation that took place in that family as the gospel entered their hearts and lives. Through the instruction of the missionaries and the subsequent fellowshipping of their good bishop and the ward members, this entire family emerged from spiritual darkness into gospel light and truth. In that light the family was warmed, refreshed, and revitalized by the peace that comes from knowing the Lord Jesus Christ lives. The light of the gospel truths restored to earth through the Prophet Joseph Smith began to show this family the way to the temple, where one year later they received their eternal blessings.

Missionary Experience shared by Elder M. Russell Ballard in April 2002 General Conference "The Peaceable Things of the Kingdom"