News Release

Elder Andersen Teaches Saints in Asia North to Follow Christ

During his recent visit to the Asia North Area, Elder Neil L. Andersen, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, along with his wife, Kathy, spoke to a variety of groups in Korea, Mongolia, and Japan, who gathered to hear the words of an apostle.

At a special conference for young adults held in Cheonan, South Korea, the apostle counseled them to follow Jesus Christ and to find good role models in their lives. He was accompanied by Elder John A. McCune of the area presidency and his wife, Debbra, and Elder J. Kimo Esplin, also from the area presidency.

Elder Andersen first introduced Sister Andersen, describing meeting and marrying her as “the biggest and most wonderful experience of his life.” He spoke of the happiness he had found with her, and of his admiration for her commitment to raising a righteous, gospel-centered family.

Sister Andersen expressed her great respect for the young people of Korea. She complimented them on their dedication to the gospel even in the midst of rigorous academic demands, noting a previous visit with high school students who attended school all day, then studied more at academies in the evening, and still made time to rise early in the morning to attend seminary.

Moving comfortably among the seated attendees, the apostle visited with several individuals, asking them what they had done so far during the conference and what new friendships they had made. He reminded the young adults of the purpose for the conference; providing an opportunity for them to meet and interact with peers who believe in Christ, love the spiritual things in life, and want to keep the commandments.

Elder Andersen counseled the young adults to identify positive role models in their lives. He had Elder Kwon and his wife Sister Lee stand, and presented them as great role models for the youth. Elder Kwon was just confirmed as one of the Republic of Korea’s Supreme Court Justices. “We all need heros,” Elder Andersen said, “We need to identify good role models who are dedicated to serving and following the Savior, heroes who make us want to be better people.” Elder Andersen told them that President Nelson has been this kind of hero for him.

Many were moved by Elder Andersen’s counsel and testimony of Christ and his admonition to find Christlike role models. “When Elder Andersen spoke of finding role models and following their good examples, that really stood out to me,” said Sister Haeri Oh of Cheonan Ward, Cheongju Stake. Sister Nagyeong Park of the Nokbeon Ward, Seoul Stake described how deeply the Spirit had touched her as she listened to Elder Andersen’s sincere testimony of Jesus Christ and the need to follow Him. She has a renewed desire to be more faithful in attending church and following her Savior. She knows that doing this will give her the much-needed strength necessary to meet the trials in her life.

In Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, families were invited to a special devotional with Elder Andersen. He was again accompanied by his wife, the McCunes, and Elder Esplin. Close to 700 members and friends gathered to hear from the apostle, who first introduced his wife, and gave her a moment to share her thoughts.

Sister Andersen, who had never visited Mongolia before, was so happy to see the beautiful people there. She said that when she was growing up, she never had the opportunity to meet an apostle of the Lord in person, and expressed what a great blessing it was for the children and youth of the congregation to hear an apostle speak. Sister Andersen shared that Elder Andersen had prayed for several weeks to know what the Lord would have him say to them specifically and she testified of her husband’s calling as a special witness of the Lord Jesus Christ. 

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the church in Mongolia. Elder Andersen said that those who were born in Mongolia were there to be pioneers of the gospel. He explained that it takes generations for the church to grow. Those who come into the church are the good and humble people of the Earth. The church will continue to grow as they keep the commandments, pay tithing, and share the gospel. He encouraged them, saying, “Don’t be afraid to tell your friends, ‘I believe in Jesus Christ.’ When you do, you will feel His love and acceptance.” Elder Andersen pointed out that when we are baptized, we are changed. Jesus Christ becomes a part of us. We can have peace in our lives when we follow Him.

Elder Andersen encouraged the members to prepare themselves for the house of the Lord and said that someday soon they would have a temple in Mongolia. He left them with an apostolic blessing, that their deep faith in Jesus Christ will continue to grow and expand; the saints in Mongolia will learn to share the love of Jesus Christ with others. They will have shelter overhead, food on the table, and will not worry about the necessities of life. Parents will teach their children, the rising generation, about Jesus Christ.

Over 500 youth and their parents gathered in Tokyo, Japan to hear from Elder Andersen, along with Sister Andersen, Bishop W. Christopher Waddell and his wife, Carol, and Elder S. Mark Palmer. Before speaking, Elder Andersen introduced his wife, and shared a fun story. When he first met her, he wanted to impress her by speaking French, which he learned when he served a mission. However, he only knew how to teach the missionary lessons in French, so that’s what he said, hoping she wouldn’t know the difference. She was impressed.

Sister Andersen was also impressed with the youth who chose to attend a church devotional on a Friday night. She said, “You are wonderful! You believe in Jesus Christ. You keep the commandments. You follow promptings from the Holy Ghost. You have the courage to live your faith.” Sister Andersen testified of the Savior Jesus Christ, and of Elder Andersen’s calling as His special witness.

Elder Andersen began his remarks by sharing three scriptures (D&C 6:36, Isaiah 55:8-9, and 1 Cor. 2:11). Each of these verses refers to our Heavenly Father’s knowledge and understanding from a greater perspective than our own. The Japanese people are very smart, however, Elder Andersen explained, “Across the world, whether you are rich or poor, educated or not, well known or not, your choices in life are all between choosing good or choosing evil.” If someone has faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repents, is baptized, receives the Holy Ghost, and endures to the end, they can be with Jesus Christ again. That is the most important choice you can make.

Each of the speakers in the devotional spoke about making choices. Elder Andersen reviewed them one by one. Elder Palmer said that choosing to serve a mission is worth any sacrifice. Sister Waddell reminded the youth that when they choose to keep their covenants, they are promised that they will always have His spirit to be with them. Bishop Waddell pointed out that making choices is actually choosing consequences. And Sister Andersen spoke about choosing to live by faith.

Elder Andersen counseled the youth not to just rely on their parents’ testimonies. He said that they need to “dig down deep to get the gospel in [their] bones.” He suggested three things that would help them to have a deep conviction of the truthfulness of the gospel. First, they need to pray on their own (Matthew 6:6). Learning to pray with real intent is essential for their eternal lives, and their Heavenly Father will rejoice. Second, they need to keep the commandments. As they do, the Spirit will testify that they are doing what is right. Third, they need to read the Book of Mormon – its very existence testifies of the reality of Jesus Christ.

Elder Andersen concluded his remarks by testifying, “My experiences as an apostle of the Lord have given me a witness that Jesus is the Christ, and that He guides His work on this Earth through His prophet and through His apostles.”

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