The Gospel Doctrine lesson #28 manual objective is “to remind class members of their responsibility to be witnesses of Jesus Christ and to help them see how the gift of the Holy Ghost helps them do so.”
To look to Peter and the Young Women’s Personal Progress program to learn how to be a living witness of Jesus Christ.
In the first five chapters of Acts we see the apostle Peter transform into a prophet. He who, not long before, three times denied knowing Christ becomes a mighty witness.
Acts begins with the end of Jesus’ instructions to the apostles. After sojourning with them for 40 days, Christ ascends into heaven thereby restoring the Holy Ghost’s presence on the Earth. Before his departure, Christ commands his apostles, “ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
In Acts 3, Peter and John heal a lame man at the gates of the temple by calling upon the name of Jesus Christ. The healed man’s gratitude and joy draws a crowd, who marvel at the miracle. This triggers something in Peter. He addresses the crowd saying, “..why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk?” (v. 12)
Peter goes on to say – God has glorified his son, Jesus. The same Jesus whom you listened to and praised and then..”delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go. But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; and killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses.” (v. 13-15)
Peter explains that lame man was healed by faith in that same Jesus.
Peter exemplifies the same forgiveness Christ showed on the cross when he acknowledges that the crowd and their rulers acted out of ignorance when they crucified Christ. He then testifies that the prophesies of Christ’s suffering have been fulfilled.
In Chapter 4, the Pharisees enter the scene. They do not like that “unlearned and ignorant men” are testifying of Christ and performing miracles. They decide to threaten Peter and John, command them “…not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.” (v. 18)
“But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye.” (v. 19)
Peter emerges as the rock that Jesus foretold he would be.
From here on out, there will be no more denying of Christ or backing down from testifying of all that was witnessed, “For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” (v. 20)
To be a witness is to both see and to testify. This means if we are to be witnesses of Christ we must train our eyes to see all of his glory in this mortal world and have the courage to declare what we know when called upon to do so.
But is that enough? Is it possible to become a living witness? That our very countenance testifies of Jesus Christ?
Every Sunday I stand with a handful of adolescent young women in setting that looks more like an attic bedroom out of a L. M. Montgomery novel than a traditional meeting house and declare, “We are daughters of our Heavenly Father, who loves us, and we love Him. We will “stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places” (Mosiah 18:9) as we strive to live the Young Women values…” (Young Women’s Theme)
I think it is possible to become a living witness and the Young Women’s Person Progress program is a training course in becoming just that. This is a rigorous program that requires discipline, introspection and commitment. It absolutely holds its own, when compared with what is required to be awarded an Eagle Scout but with one marked difference – the Personal Progress Program brings the participate unto Christ.
In our quest to develop Christ like attributes, I encourage all members (male and female) to use the Young Women’s Personal Progress program as a resource. The Young Women values read as a list of Christ’s character traits: faith, divine nature, individual worth, knowledge, choice & accountability, good works, integrity and virtue. The work to understand and live these values help us to understand our Savior and emulate him, that we may become a living witness of his glory and grace.
I would be remiss, if I did not mention the wonderful supplemental Young Women lessons and innovative Young Women activities that our friends at Exponent II and Aspiring Mormon Women, respectfully, are offering.
Related Mormon Women Project Interviews
Where Her Truth Is, Morgan Lyon Cotti
I think a stronger female voice is crucial. I used to teach in the Young Women and now I am in the older teenager Sunday School. I love the new lessons. I love how it is an open curriculum. But the talks and videos that are listed are usually are of or from men. So I usually have to go searching for a talk or quote by a woman. In my opinion, we are going to have to have some mixture of grassroots efforts and having women be more willing to speak up. And then at the highest level, I hope we will continue to see great changes like the mission age change and the emphasis on women’s voices being included in ward council.
Playing from Her Heart, Tina Richerson
My mind is more sharp and more clear about what I want to do. It is evident to me that in the past two years God has been directing and guiding my footsteps. I’m blessed with a peace. When I read the scriptures, I’m given revelation on what the Lord wants me to do. I am given the courage and the confidence and the strength to live my life. The Lord has also changed me physically and mentally to be able to do this. I can go to the temple now. I can go to the temple and do the work for my ancestors, which is just such an amazing blessing and get help from the other side. I have full access to all the mysteries of the kingdom of God. If that isn’t a blessing, there isn’t one. I have the reassurance given through the Holy Ghost. I live an abundant life. The blessing of knowing that at any moment I have access to divine energy is just awesome. I know who I am now. I know who I am. I’ll tell you what – one of the biggest blessings is saying, “I’m a homosexual and I’m a daughter of God. The Lord loves me and there’s a work to be done, brother and sisters. There’s a mighty, mighty work to be done and it’s called building up Zion.” To be able to build up Zion like this and strengthen other people who have had such pain caused from being homosexual is joy and fulfillment in my life. Sometimes it’s very stressful and I get bombarded with emails or things I need to do but it’s such a blessing to know what to do with my life. To have meaning in my life. To know where to put my time and my energy and to be directed in every step is the best blessing that anybody could ever want.
Other Related Women’s Voices
Now Let Us Rejoice, Barbara Thompson
Sisters, now more than ever, we need women to step up and be strong. We need women who declare the truth with strength, faith, and boldness. We need women to set an example of righteousness. We need women to be ‘anxiously engaged in a good cause.’ We need to live so that our lives bear witness that we love our Heavenly Father and the Savior Jesus Christ and that we will do what They have asked us to do. We need to rescue ‘all that is finest down deep inside of [us] ‘so that as daughters of God we can do our part to build the kingdom of God. We will have help to do this. As Joseph declared, ‘If you live up to your privileges, the angels cannot be restrained from being your associates.’
A God of Miracles, Sydney S. Reynolds
I believe that all of us can bear witness to these small miracles. We know children who pray for help to find a lost item and find it. We know of young people who gather the courage to stand as a witness of God and feel His sustaining hand. We know friends who pay their tithing with the last of their money and then, through a miracle, find themselves able to pay their tuition or their rent or somehow obtain food for their family. We can share experiences of prayers answered and priesthood blessings that gave courage, brought comfort, or restored health. These daily miracles acquaint us with the hand of the Lord in our lives.
Be Thou an Example of the Believers, Ann M. Dibb
Thinking back to when I was a young woman, I recognize that I did not understand the magnitude of what was happening in my life. I did not realize that my participation in each and every Church activity was helping me develop a lifelong pattern and commitment to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. I didn’t understand that I was being prepared for my future life as an individual, a wife, a mother, and a leader. I didn’t understand that as I tried to choose the right, I was honoring my baptismal covenants, exercising faith, increasing my virtue, and preparing to go to the temple. I couldn’t see all of this then, but in very small, incremental steps, I was becoming a believer—and ‘an example of the believers.’
Stand as a Witness, Susan W. Tanner
Recently I learned of two valiant young women who, as they lived the commandments and radiated the joy of the gospel, stood as witnesses of God. This is the story as told by a senior missionary at the MTC:
She said that years earlier she was at home one day ironing, watching a soap opera, and smoking a cigarette when there was a knock at the door. When she opened it, there were two men in white shirts and ties, and one of them introduced himself as her bishop. He said that as he was praying, he had felt inspired to ask her to teach Young Women. She told him that she had been baptized at age 10 but had never been active. He seemed undeterred as he showed her the manual and explained where they met on Wednesday night. Then she emphatically said, ‘I can’t teach 16-year-olds; I’m inactive, and besides I smoke.’ Then he said, ‘You won’t be inactive anymore, and you have until Wednesday to quit smoking.’ Then he left.
She said, ‘I remember shouting in the air in anger, but then I couldn’t resist the urge to read the manual. In fact, I was so curious, I read it from cover to cover and then memorized every word of that lesson.By Wednesday I was still not going to go, but I found myself driving to church, scared to death. I had never been scared of anything before. I had grown up in the slums, been in detention once myself, and rescued my father from the ‘drunk tank.’ And all of a sudden there I was at Mutual being introduced as the new Laurel adviser.
I sat before two Laurels and gave the lesson word for word, even the parts that said ‘Now ask them …’ I left immediately after the lesson and cried all the way home. A few days later there was another knock at the door, and I thought, ‘Good. It’s the bishop here to retrieve his manual.’ I opened the door, and standing there were those two lovely Laurels, one with flowers, the other with cookies. They invited me to go to church with them on Sunday, which I did.
I liked those girls. They began by teaching me about the Church, the ward, the class. They taught me how to sew, read scriptures, and smile. Together we started teaching the other girls in the class who weren’t coming. We taught them wherever we could find them—in cars, in bowling alleys, and on porches. Within six months, 14 of them were coming, and in a year all 16 girls on the roll were active. We laughed and cried together. We learned to pray, study the gospel, and serve others.’
These two valiant young women stood as witnesses for truth and righteousness, for goodness and the joy of the gospel.