YSA Fireside with Pres. Terence M. Vinson

YSA Fireside with Pres. Terence M. Vinson

October 23, 2016

Christiansborg Stake Center

Over 700 Young Single Adults from the Greater Accra area were blessed with an inspiring evening of counsel from President Terence M. Vinson and his wife, Kay Carden Vinson, on Sunday, October 23, 2016 at the Christiansborg Stake Center in Accra. 

The evening began with beautiful prelude music sung by a choir of young adults from the area.  First to speak was Sister Vinson who told a little about her family.  She and her husband have six children, 3 boys and 3 girls.  Her sons’ names are Joshua, Caleb and Benjamin.  The story of Caleb in the Old Testament is a particular favorite of hers.  Caleb isn’t as well known as his contemporary Joshua, but his story is equally compelling.  When the Israelites’ faith failed and they refused to enter the Promised Land after the Lord had promised it to them, he stood before Moses against the voice of the people and pled for them to have courage and trust in the Lord.  When they still refused, the Lord told them that because of their faithlessness they would wander in the desert for 40 years. Caleb and Joshua would be the only adults among them that would be privileged to enter the Promised Land.  (See Num. 13)

When the time finally arrived, Caleb reminded Joshua of the promise he had received from Moses 40 years earlier that he could choose the land he would possess.  When given the opportunity to choose the best and easiest to obtain of all the areas, he instead chose the land that would require a great battle with the most feared people because he trusted in the Lord to strengthen him and fulfill his promised blessings.

Sister Vinson said she loves this story because of the faith in God Caleb demonstrated.  He didn’t pick the easy path in life.  He was a man of faith and action.  Life is hard and the difficulties can be discouraging, but she admonished the young adults to remember what Paul said to the Philippians, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me,” (Phil. 4:13) and that through determination, obedience, and trusting in God, we can overcome obstacles and receive the promised blessings of the Lord.

Elder Vinson echoed his wife’s message when he told the young adults how grateful he is for them, and reminded them that God has given them the strength to overcome the difficulties in their life.  He was impressed by the opening hymn, Faith of Our Fathers, and said, “You are those about whom this song will be sung in the future.  Many of you are first generation members of the Church. You will demonstrate the faith that your children and grandchildren in generations to come will sing about because you have laid the path for them to receive the fullness of the gospel as you have received it.

”Tonight I want to speak about love, “ President Vinson declared.  “I believe very firmly that the foundation of our understanding of love is based on our love for God and his love for us - that if we understand and love God, then we have a much greater capacity to love others, and to feel love, and to understand what love really is.  When it comes to loving God…we should not hold back, we need to fully follow the Lord.”

He spoke of the example of Ammon who, after saving the flocks of the king went directly to water his horses, which left the king amazed at his humility and obedience. 

“Now when king Lamoni heard that Ammon was preparing his horses and his chariots he was more astonished, because of the faithfulness of Ammon, saying: Surely there has not been any servant among all my servants that has been so faithful as this man; for even he doth remember all my commandments to execute them. “ (Alma 18:10)

“Should our obedience to the commandments the Lord has given us be any different?” he asked. “Are we as the Israelites?  Is our faith just as weak as the Israelites when we do not do what we are asked to do?  Are we showing a lack of faith, a lack of love for God when we do not do what is asked of us?  His love for us is not lacking in any way.”  When Christ, in the Garden of Gethsemane, asked that the cup of suffering before him could be removed, he did not falter when it wasn’t.  Because of his love of his Father and for us, He selflessly performed the greatest sacrifice for all mankind. “Sometimes,” President Vinson said, “keeping the commandments requires sacrifice - and that’s a good thing.  When we [sacrifice] the rewards are great.  The rewards match the efforts on our part.”

“Verily I say unto you, all among them who know their hearts are honest, and are broken, and their spirits contrite, and are willing to observe their covenants by sacrifice—yea, every sacrifice which I, the Lord, shall command—they are accepted of me.” (D. & C. 97:8)

Sometimes the Lord allows difficult things in our life, and we may pray to be relieved of the struggle and challenges we face. Sometimes those prayers are not answered right away.  President Vinson reminded the young adults of the story recorded in the gospels, that, after the feeding of the 5,000, Jesus sent his apostles to the ship to go to Bethsaida while He went to the mountain to pray.

“And he saw them toiling in rowing; for the wind was contrary unto them: and about the fourth watch of the night he cometh unto them.” (Mark 6:48)

President Vinson pointed out that Jesus did not come to help the apostles in the rough sea right away, not in the first, second, or third watch, but waited until the fourth watch.  Only then, after they had struggled and tested their faith, did he come to them, at which point Peter had developed enough faith to walk on water for a short time.  Sometimes the Lord allows us to struggle in order for us to strengthen our faith. 

“You are all single young adults…what I would really want for you is that you would go to the temple, 2 at a time, one man and one woman from this group, to be sealed for time and all eternity.  I want you to feel that love.”

President Vinson expressed, “We need to be careful with the great gift that the Lord has blessed us with, the ability to share with him in the process of the creation of a body.  Those powers are strong within us but we have to be strong.  Alma told us, ‘bridle all your passions, that ye may be filled with love.’ (Alma 38:12)  Only when they are under control will they bring us love.”

President Vinson further explained that one of the challenges that we face is that the world is telling us other things. Nephi describes this attitude when he says, “And there shall also be many which shall say: Eat, drink, and be merry; nevertheless, fear God—he will justify in committing a little sin; … there is no harm in this; and do all these things, for tomorrow we die; and if it so be that we are guilty, God will beat us with a few stripes, and at last we shall be saved in the kingdom of God.” (2 Nephi 28:8)

We must remember,  “No unclean thing can inherit the kingdom of God.” (Alma 40:26)  It is false that we will be justified in committing a little sin.  There is no avoiding the consequences of sin.   Through repentance and appealing to Christ for forgiveness through His great atonement, we can become clean again.  “Christ’s healing not only heals the wound, but removes all scars,” he told us.

In conclusion President Vinson declared, “We are members of the Church of Jesus Christ.  We know the truth. There will be challenges in life, but He has given us the greatest gift of all, the gift of Love.  It is Love in its true meaning and we should not accept any counterfeit.  I have great confidence in Ghana because of you.  I see the leaders of the future [in you], because of your faith, your understanding of the gospel and your love for the Lord. I testify of the Savior Jesus Christ. I love Him with all my heart.  He is my Redeemer and my Savior. I know that He pleads for me before the Father as He pleads for you. My desire is to serve Him and learn from Him, and to love as He loves.”