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After listening to Elder Holland’s talk, “The First Great Commandment,” I decided at age 12, I was going to go on a mission. His message in the talk was simple, it was if you love the Savior, then one should go out and serve.” It just made sense to me; I loved the Savior, and going on mission would be one of the best ways to express my gratitude to Him. There’s a joke swirling around on the internet that when the Devil goes to bed he checks under his bed for Elder Holland.
Holland’s legacy of giving powerful testimonies is prevalent in church culture today. When I hear his name next to give a talk, I know my prayers are He is what I call a ‘heavy hitter.’ If the prophet needs a speaker to call the saints to repentance, he will call Elder Holland, if he needs someone to tackle prevalent, controversial topics in a Christ like manner, they call elder Holland.
When God needed a man who will give everything he has to the savior, he prepared and called Jeffrey R. Holland.
Thesis: Throughout Jeffrey R. Holland’s life and ministry his witness to the Book of Mormon has greatly impacted my life.
Holland was born to Frank and Alice Holland in 1940; parents who shaped him into the man he is today. The importance of receiving an education was instilled into him by his father, Frank D. Holland, whose own education was ended in 7th grade.
With this appreciation for learning Holland received his bachelor and master degrees in English and religious education from BYU, and went on to receive a master and PhD in American studies from Yale.( During this time he married his wife Patricia and the two had three children—need help with family plug). With this gained understanding of culture, history, and religion Holland went on to serve as the member or leader of various university boards and business corporations. For his involvement in peacefully establishing the BYU Jerusalem center and promoting understanding between the Christian and Jewish communities in the area Holland was given the “Torch of Liberty” award by the Anti‑Defamation League of B’Nai B’rith. Despite the enormity of his success in other areas, Holland felt his primary calling in life was to be a teacher. When teaching at multiple institutes it was said that he, “reached out to many young members who might otherwise have faded into anonymity. . . ‘Youth were drawn to him. If he was able to bring some of those young people back into the institute, the gospel changed them’”(Searle, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland). (I want to say something about how this displays his Christ like nature) Holland’s trademark of welcoming people into the Lord’s fold was then furthered when he was called as an apostle in 1994.
Elder Holland’s ministry and actions as an apostle exemplifies his deep love for the Savior and his gospel. In multiple instances Holland is noted to be working beside members, sharing in their optimism and in their grief when necessary insert story. Reflecting the example illustrated in Mosiah 18 of the people who long to be called the people of God, people who as “are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places. . .” Holland speaks in his sermons frankly with his emotions/ intentions clear not to be misinterpreted by anyone who listens. When concerning the Book of Mormon he gives an indisputable testimony reading:
“ I want it absolutely clear when I stand before the judgment bar of God that I declared to the world, in the most straightforward language I could summon, that the Book of Mormon is true, that it came forth the way Joseph said it came forth and was given to bring happiness and hope to the faithful in the travail of the latter days.”
Holland’s message resonates with listeners because he is Intimate,personal, sincere, animated, passionate(tears, righteous anger, laughter) Insightful, spiritually in tune, empathetic, real, and Fearless Elder Holland has the gift of frankness and boldness, but balancing compassion, empathy, and true love for his fellow man. He is humorous but understands the darkness of trails like anxiety and depression and does not shy away from the topics. When he speaks it is as if he is speaking directly to me/ you with emotion so raw and real that can only be produced through sincere honesty and love. Love for the Savior, and the gospel especially.
When selecting leaders among the faithful the Lord describes his process in 1 Samuel as “for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” The intentions and desires of the individual. When apostles are called in this day and age it is my testimony that they are not called based of their apprecence, ethnicity, or class, but based on their hearts. I also think the apostles called represent everyone spiritually so that kindred spirits attract each other. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, I feel, was called this day and age to minister to me specifically, I feel like we have kindred spirits/ my spirit is highly responsive to his testimony.
That’s why Holland’s message in The First Great Commandment resonated with me so much. It was after my first girls camp, my first time on my own when I felt I had my own personal experience and Holland spoke to me directly through the screen not to turn back
“‘Do you love me?’ And for every one of us, I answer with my honor and my soul, ‘Yea, Lord, we do love thee.’And having set our ‘hand to the plough,’ we will never look back until this work is finished and love of God and neighbor rules the world“(Holland, The First Great Commandment).
Now, I am beginning my first semester at BYU writing this paper, and as of October 3 my mission papers will have been successfully put into the mail. I have lived to be worthy to serve the Lord to the fullest extent my entire life thus far and now I get to put it into action. I sustain, support, and love this man with all my heart. May my words echo my beloved brother Jeffrey R. Holland in saying “I pledge everything I have and everything I know how to give to witnessing and reaffirming the divinity of the Savior’s life and the restoration of his gospel. My greatest joy and my solemn obligation is to testify of Jesus Christ wherever I may go and with whomever I may be for as long as I shall live”(Searle, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland).
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