Often when we think of missionary work, we picture knocking on doors, handing out Books of Mormon, and teaching investigators. Family history isn’t the first thing that comes to our minds. While explaining the Restoration is one key way to bringing people to the Gospel, helping them explore their family history can help them to love it. As many who have done genealogy can attest, researching our ancestors gives us a feeling of belonging to something bigger than ourselves. Nothing illustrates this better than the story of pianist Paul Cardall, whose own genealogical experience expanded both his horizons and those of the family members he didn’t know he had.
Cardall, as the keynote speaker at BYU’s recent Family History Conference, said: “As for those whose hearts have turned, I believe we will see greater faith among people if we do the family history work.” When people do it, their hearts open and they become more receptive to the love and blessings the Gospel provides. It is from there that the change of heart Alma spoke of in Alma 5:26-27 can begin to take place.
He and wife Tina experienced that effect as they worked on her family history. Through their efforts to find her ancestors, which proved difficult due to the fact that she was from Slovenia, Cardall and his wife were able to meet and connect with family they had not known they had. Tina’s mother was also able to reunite with kin she had not seen in forty-three years. Together, they had the opportunity to introduce more than fifty of Tina’s family members to the Gospel.
Family History Can Bridge the Gap
Families, being one of the core tenets of the Church and of society, have the potential to be instrumental in converting others, in a broader sense than ever before. Of this, Cardall says, “I told the young missionaries who come here from foreign lands that I believe the key to having a meaningful conversation is by turning the hearts of the children to the deceased fathers and mothers.” Family is something everyone understands.
Not only is it a way to bridge the gap between the secular and the spiritual, but also brings together people of all ages. Elder Bednar in the 2011 October General Conference, as quoted in the 2016 Connections, in regards to the youth of the LDS church said, “Many of you may think family history work is to be performed primarily by older people. But I know of no age limit described in the scriptures or guidelines announced by Church leaders restricting this important service to mature adults. You are sons and daughters of God, children of the covenant, and builders of the kingdom. You need not wait until you reach an arbitrary age to fulfill your responsibility to assist in the work of salvation for the human family.” In addition to those remarks, Bednar also highlights some of the amazing tools available now days for genealogy work such as familysearch.org.
Family history is a means to bring people together, bridge spiritual and secular gaps, and connect with people you might not know otherwise. It’s about helping people understand both their familial and spiritual roots.
Do you know who’s in your family history?