Some 145,000 members in the Utah South Mission have been instructed in ways to help non-members learn more about the Church, said Pres. V. Dallas Merrell.
This instruction, accomplished in a series of special meetings during the past several months, has brought a steady increase in member-missionary work in the heartland of the Great Basin.Despite the fact that missionaries here work in some of the most concentrated areas of membership in the Church, they find plenty of non-members, he said. "Last year we baptized 1 percent of the non-members in our mission."
"There is a rising awareness of the need to be a friend, an emerging awareness of the need to go beyond and introduce friends to the Church," said Pres. Merrell.
If members discuss a gospel subject, take a friend to a Church activity, bear testimony or give them some church literature, then chances are greater that the friend will be willing to listen to the missionaries, he said.
"Members more secure in their faith will feel more secure in sharing that faith," Pres. Merrell said.
One example of that occurred in Sandy, Utah, where an LDS woman's husband had declined interest in the Church for many years. Recently he responded to the friendship of members around him and was willing to listen again to the missionary discussions, and was baptized, said Elder Daniel Jansson, a mission zone leader, from Halmstad, Sweden.
In addition, stake missions have been organized in each of the area's 233 stakes. Regular meetings are held with the full-time missionaries to correlate missionary efforts, said Pres. Merrell.
For example, in the Mount Pleasant Utah Stake, the full-time and stake missionaries meet often and have training sessions. Elder William Castillo of New York City, serving in Mount Pleasant, explained that the meetings help missionary work.
"We call it our little member training center," said Elder Castillo.