BYU performing groups help build the kingdom

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    By Rebecca Shippen

    Some of life”s most important messages are felt rather than spoken, said Edward L. Blaser, in the first devotional of spring term Tuesday (May 9, 2006).

    Blaser has managed BYU”s performing groups since 1976, and in this capacity has led them to perform in 100 countries. Their audiences have included the prime minister of India, the queen of Thailand, and the king and queen of Jordan. The performing groups first toured China in 1979 and have returned 23 times since.

    “The Chinese repeatedly told them [church leaders] that BYU was the most famous American university in China,” Blaser said, speaking of a visit President Gordon B. Hinckley and Elder Dallin H. Oaks made to China.

    Leaders of the church have praised the performing groups” positive influence on church missionary work. Blaser referred to President James Mason, of the African Area Presidency, who said:

    “These talented young men and women have continued to bring the church and its principles out of obscurity.”

    The program”s objectives are more than just entertainment, said Blaser. On their worldwide tours, the groups participate in performances, workshops, devotionals and service opportunities.

    “Student performers are asked to lift audiences and fellow performers … increase dignity and self-regard, improve the general perception and understanding of the church by example of Christian living,” Blaser said.

    Blaser highlighted an experience the Young Ambassadors had in Korea. During the students” visit to an orphanage they not only made financial donations and performed, they actually took time to hold and play with the children.

    The world is our stage was the message Blaser gave, and he left students with his testimony.

    “I know that Heavenly Father loves us and protects those building the kingdom,” he said. “We have truly been blessed and protected. Each group entertains their audience in a different way, but they all emulate a spirit of light.”

    Transscripts of most Devotional addresses are available at http://speeches.byu.edu.

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