In the England London South Mission CCM (where the Stake Presidents, Mission President and Area Seventy counsel together), there is a tradition of beginning each meeting by watching a presentation filled with photographs of all the members baptised in the previous three months. Often the photographs have the new member dressed in white, standing with family members, missionaries, and the person who baptised them.
In a recent meeting, one photograph in particular caused me to stir! There, dressed in white and with his arm around another man, was a dear friend Clive that I recall standing with in a similar photograph almost twenty years previously.
In 1998, a number of experiences had generated feelings of spiritual hunger in Clive. After receiving a copy of The Book of Mormon from a work colleague, he decided to cycle to the Slough Ward meetinghouse and attend church. He walked through the doors, keen to learn. As the Bishop, I greeted Clive and was delighted to hear that he wanted to learn about the church. Two missionaries were on hand and with great eagerness they looked after their new friend. Following some difficult decisions and significant changes, Clive was baptised some weeks later and started a journey of faith and commitment as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Many years on, now living in a different Ward and different Stake, Clive took an opportunity to discuss the church with a work colleague. Following a number of conversations and feeling a strong impression, he presented a copy of The Book of Mormon (in which he had written his testimony) to his friend.
Some time passed and Clive was in his local ward when a presentation was made about the three components of the Area Plan: “Bring a Friend”, “Become Spiritually and Temporally Self-Reliant” and “Find an Ancestor”. As Clive sat there, his mind turned to his friend to whom he had given The Book of Mormon. He turned to his wife and said, “I have a friend that I can invite to church”.
Clive acted on this inspiration and telephoned his friend. He invited him to church, arranging to meet him in the car park beforehand. Sunday arrived and so did his friend, who enjoyed the services and felt very welcome. His friend was later introduced to the full-time missionaries who taught him the discussions. Can you picture Clive’s great joy when a number of weeks later his friend asked him to baptise him? It was an invitation he happily accepted!
This was the photograph I saw that day that caused my heart to stir.
Jesus taught, “And if it so be that ye should labour all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great will be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father.”
Clive felt that joy because he followed the beckoning of our Area Presidency and invited his friend to come to church. Even though he had previously held numerous conversations about the Gospel and given him a copy of The Book of Mormon – all wonderful things to do. The real joy came when he followed the prompting of the spirit and extended that invitation. The invitation itself was so important and necessary, without it his friend may never have attended church and ultimately may never have become converted to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
I am convinced that the inspired invitation we have each been given – “To Bring a Friend to Him” – is one that we can all follow and apply in our lives. Clive’s example is one of many that testify to the joy that comes from extending invitations. I have both observed such examples and experienced them.
May we each seek inspiration to identify invitations we can extend to our friends. And may we have the faith and commitment to follow through and invite, that we may experience this same joy.
 Doctrine and Covenants 18:15