News Release

2023 Asia North Area Presidency New Year Message

"New beginnings” are an essential part of our mortal experience

Elder Takashi Wada (middle), Elder James R. Rasband (left) and Elder John A. McCune (right) of Asia North Area Presidency stand in front of Tokyo Japan Temple2022 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Brothers and Sisters, we are deeply grateful for the opportunity we have had to serve alongside you this past year in the Asia North Area.

The beginning of each new year can be a time of both reflection and anticipation.  We can appropriately reflect on all the blessings with which our loving Heavenly Father has blessed us and at the same time look forward to future blessings and opportunities.

This past year, we have been blessed with so much as an area.  We were excited to be able to gather again in person as concerns over the coronavirus began to lessen.  We were reminded firsthand of the blessings that come through gathering regularly and strengthening each other.  We more clearly understood why Moroni shared these words in Moroni 6:5-6: “And the church did meet together oft, to fast and to pray, and to speak one with another concerning the welfare of their souls.”

We were blessed with the completion of the Yigo Guam Temple in May, followed by the rededication of the Tokyo Temple in July.  We celebrated the announcement in October General Conference of a new temple in Busan Korea, answering so many prayers.  The construction of the Okinawa Japan Temple continued to progress.  We look forward to the possibility of its dedication next year.

In 2022, we were also blessed with eight FSY sessions and five YSA conference sessions.  These became joyful and sacred gathering events for our youth and young adults.  We are profoundly grateful for all who participated and for the extensive efforts in ensuring that these events were successful.

Our minds now turn to the coming year.  As each new year begins, we look forward to a “new start” or “new beginning.”

Asia North Area Presidency stand in front of Tokyo Japan Temple with their wives2022 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.
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“New beginnings” are an essential part of our mortal experience.

There is an eternal, gospel principle of new beginnings which we know as repentance. It is a beautiful, rewarding, and life-changing process given by a merciful and loving Heavenly Father.  Through the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ, we know that learning from mistakes was part of the original plan.  Therefore, repentance becomes a process of learning.  A joyful process.

Repentance is a divine gift—a gift that comes with blessings beyond description; a gift that is more glorious than can be imagined; a gift that results not in short-lived changes like those that accompany some of our New Year’s resolutions, but in eternal change. It is a transformative principle that leads us from being natural men and women to being more like our heavenly parents. In Greek, the word “repentance” denotes a “change of mind, a fresh view about God, about oneself, and about the world.”

We can be reminded of the importance of this principle by examining Christ’s early ministry.  In Matthew we read: “Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee; And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum.  From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”  Thus, the word repent became the first recorded word of the Savior’s public ministry.

As we truly understand the meaning of the gift of repentance, the feelings that we have when we even hear the word “repentance” dramatically change from feelings of stress and negativity to feelings of profound joy and gratitude. 

President Nelson has taught:

“Too many people consider repentance as punishment—something to be avoided except in the most serious circumstances. But this feeling of being penalized is engendered by Satan. He tries to block us from looking to Jesus Christ, who stands with open arms, hoping and willing to heal, forgive, cleanse, strengthen, purify, and sanctify us.  Thus, when Jesus asks you and me to “repent,” He is inviting us to change our mind, our knowledge, our spirit—even the way we breathe. He is asking us to change the way we love, think, serve, spend our time, treat our wives, teach our children, and even care for our bodies.”

It is interesting that the Lord through our prophet is inviting us to change “even the way we breathe.”  The average human takes between 17,000 and 30,000 breaths every day.  We accomplish this monumental feat each day of our lives without even thinking about it.  It is a natural part of who we are. 

As we follow Christ through daily repentance and discipleship, He changes our very nature.  He can change the way we approach each day, each minute, without any seeming conscious effort.  While focusing on the Savior, He can help us change the way we approach problems and even the way we embrace successes in a natural, effortless way.

Daily repentance and intently living the gospel will not make every aspect of our lives perfect, but, as President Nelson promised, it will make every aspect of our lives better.  We witness the truth of the principle of repentance and of “new beginnings.”  We testify that this is made possible through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, our redeemer, the son of the living God.

Because of Jesus Christ, we have so much to look forward to with faith.  We invite all to repent daily, to turn to Christ, and to experience the joy reserved for those who recognize Him through whom all blessings flow.

In the sacred name of Jesus Christ.  Amen

*The Asia North Area Presidency

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