Education Week: How to best support today’s youth

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Editor’s note: Education Week coverage can be found in this section of the website.

Young Men General President Brother Steven J. Lund and Young Women General President Sister Bonnie H. Cordon discuss how to best implement The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ new children and youth program to support the rising generation in an Education Week keynote address Tuesday morning. (Dallin Wilks)

Young Men and Young Women General Presidents Steven J. Lund and Bonnie H. Cordon discussed how to best implement the Church’s new children and youth program during a keynote Education Week address Tuesday morning.

The pair began by reintroducing the new youth themes for young men and women. They asked the audience to ponder the words and phrases that most stood out to them personally in their efforts to support youth in progressing on the covenant path, preparing to serve missions and receiving temple blessings. Sister Cordon expressed the importance of receiving specific revelation to determine the wording of the new themes.

“It was important for every word to be just right and from heaven,” Sister Cordon said.

Brother Lund and Sister Cordon stressed the need for leaders to support the youth and prepare them for their work in the “youth battalion”, as President Russell M. Nelson outlined. They played a video message from President Nelson from this year’s For the Strength of Youth conferences in which he testified of the divine mission for each of the Church’s youth today.

“You’re here now because God chose you to be here now,” President Nelson said to the youth in the video. “He knew you’d have the courage and strength to withstand the adversary’s opposition to God’s plan for you.”

Brother Lund and Sister Cordon further shared their witness of the prophet’s words and their belief of the support President Nelson receives from God and the Savior.

“They love him, they listen to him, and they’re responding to him,” Sister Cordon said of the relationship between President Nelson and the Godhead.

Stories were shared of exceptional youth in the Church and their influence on others as the pair urged more opportunities to participate. Sister Cordon shared of a young woman from Utah who, following a prompting, would go on to organize her stake’s youth conference after the pandemic threatened its cancellation.

“Our youth, if we allow them to serve, will become a great support,” Sister Cordon said. “Bringing people to Christ is the top priority.”

Brother Lund recalled the story of a young Muslim girl who had relocated from the Middle East to the Salt Lake Valley with her family years earlier. She was immediately taken in and fellowshipped by the young women of the Church at her school who showed love and kindness to her.

Years later, the girl had grown up to become a government official in Dubai and was responsible for the Church’s application requesting to build a temple there. Remembering the influence of the young women years before, she felt the need to shepherd the application through the government ranks and helped make the process significantly easier for the Church to proceed with a temple in Dubai. While the girl never did join the Church, the simple kindness of the young women proved to be a great blessing to countless souls.

“The girls saw her for who she was,” Brother Lund said. “They weren’t just making a friend, they were building a temple.”

Brother Lund and Sister Cordon closed with their testimonies, inviting leaders to learn the youth themes and look for more ways to involve the youth and give them opportunities to lead in their congregations. They likened the youth to the crew members on a ship, actively engaged in the journey, rather than tourists observing from the side.

“The desired outcome is simple, we want the youth to come unto Christ,” Brother Lund said.

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