Elder Brent H. Nielson of the Seventy spoke at the Sunday morning session of general conference about the importance of waiting on and loving prodigal members of the church.
Elder Nielson related the parable of the prodigal son, as told by the Savior, to modern-day missionary efforts within the LDS church. He said sometimes persistent and eager efforts to rescue those who are “lost” results in a tendency of less-active members of the church to push farther away.
Elder Nielson told the story of his sister, Susan, who left the church. “As we sought heavenly guidance as to how we might properly respond to her, it became evident that we had to follow the example of the father in the parable of the prodigal son,” he said. “Susan had made her choice, and we had to figuratively let her go, but not without her knowing and feeling our sincere love for her. And so, with renewed love and kindness, we watched and we waited.”
Elder Nielson said all members are essentially prodigal members of the church, as they are all on the same path home. The Father loves, waits and watches all of his children as they try to come closer to him. Elder Nielsen said it is important to maintain this attitude and perspective as members approach those struggling with their testimonies.
Years passed, and Nielson and his wife felt inspiration to reinvite Elder Nielson’s sister to come back to church. Elder Nielson explained that a miracle occurred, and Susan is now fully reactivated in the church.
Elder Nielson concluded his talk with an invitation. “May you and I receive the revelation to know how to best approach those in our lives who are lost and, when necessary, to have the patience and love of our Father in Heaven and his Son, Jesus Christ, as we love, watch and wait for the prodigal.”