Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gave a devotional on Sunday night at the Marriott Center and was the keynote speaker in the Patriotic Service as part of Provo’s Freedom Festival.
Elder Uchtdorf started his devotional by pointing out the irony in inviting a German person to speak about the birth of the United States of America. He then gave background information on how he grew up in Germany, including seeing the effects of World War II and later joining the German Air Force.
He said although much in the world has changed since then, there still exists much conflict and unrest in all parts of the world. He shared how he and his wife visited eastern Europe and met with struggling individuals who had experienced loss and heartache in their lives.
“Our beloved Heavenly Father holds the nations of the world in his hands,” he said. “No earthly threat is beyond his power to overcome. Despite the threats to peace and freedom that continue throughout the world, I am hopeful.”
He also emphasized the importance of the power individuals have to choose the right in their lives. “Although the adversary does try to divide us, he does not have the power to destroy us,” he said. “Ultimately, the power is in our hands.”
Elder Uchtdorf mentioned how he has three citizenships: He is a citizen of the U.S., Germany and of the Kingdom of God. He said anyone has the capability of being a citizen in the Kingdom of God regardless of who they are or where they are from.
“God’s solution to conflict is to change human nature by creating new hearts and empowering personal virtue,” Elder Uchtdorf said. “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom.”
Elder Uchtdorf said members of the Church can be better citizens at both a local and global level when they choose to become virtuous individuals.
He ended his devotional with a moving sentiment regarding his perspective in the U.S., to which the crowd responded with an affirming applause.
“The U.S. is a place where someone who speaks with the accent of a former enemy nation can stand with you, not as a stranger or foreigner, but as a fellow citizen and celebrate our shared blessings of freedom in this sweet land of liberty,” Elder Uchtdorf said.