CES Leaders BYU–Hawaii Devotional: Joy in Covenants

For BYU–Hawaii student Pua’ena Kapu, Tuesday’s campus devotional was a bit nostalgic.

Being in the presence of several general Church leaders, including an Apostle, the Relief Society General President, and two other General Authorities, reminded her of her mission.

“[It] It brought back the memories and emotions of love and humility that I felt as a missionary on Temple Square,” the Big Island of Hawaii elder told the Church News.

Members of the Church Educational System Executive Committee, including Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles; Relief Society General President Camille N. Johnson; Church education commissioner Elder Clark G. Gilbert; and Elder Paul V. Johnson of the Presidency of the Seventy all participated in the weekly devotional on the University by the Sea campus in Laie, Hawaii, on Tuesday, January 24.

Church leaders shared experiences, testimonies, and perspectives in response to questions collected from a survey of the campus community.

One of Kapu’s main takeaways from the devotional, he said, was that to find true and lasting joy, “we must let God prevail and be honorable covenant keepers.”

The theme of covenants was present in many of the leaders’ comments.

In his final remarks before closing the meeting, Elder Christofferson spoke of Abraham, “father of the faithful” who was chosen to produce a covenant people.

And yet, Abraham might have doubted the Lord’s ability and will to keep His covenant or promises, Elder Christofferson said. For example, Abraham was promised the land, but he has to leave it because of famine and go to Egypt. He is promised a posterity as numerous as the stars in the sky, but his wife is barren. He finally has a covenant son and is then ordered to sacrifice him.

“You think all these things might have made him doubt, but really, they were the things that strengthened his faith,” Elder Christofferson said. The trials and difficulties that covenant children of God experience can be similar opportunities in which the Lord will show how faithful He is when they turn to Him.

“We want to be faithful in our promises and in keeping our covenants with Him,” Elder Christofferson said. “Yes. But he also wants to show us that we can have faith in him, we can count on him and that he will keep his promises to us.”


Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks during a BYU–Hawaii devotional in Laie, Hawaii, on Tuesday, January 24, 2023.

Camille Young, BYU–Hawaii

find joy

With BYU-Hawaii President John SK Kauwe III serving as moderator, the first question centered on how to find joy, peace, confidence, and the rest that President Russell M. Nelson promised in an October general conference address. of 2022.

In response, Elder Christofferson shared a quote from President Nelson’s “keynote” address: “I grieve for those who leave the Church because they feel that membership demands too much of them. They have not yet discovered that making and keeping covenants actually makes life easier. Every person who makes covenants has greater access to the power of Jesus Christ.”

If people focus on Christ and are bound to Him by covenant, then joy is the product, Elder Christofferson said.

In that same address, President Nelson also explained that knowing Heavenly Father’s and the Savior’s love for people is vital, President Johnson added.

In response to President Nelson’s invitation, President Johnson said that he has tried to be deliberate about seeking His love.

“And it’s everywhere,” he said. “When I go looking for the love of my Savior, I see it in the beautiful sky this morning here on the island when the sun came up, and I see it in his face. I recognize it as evidence of the love of my Heavenly Father, my Savior for me, and that has made me happier.”


Relief Society General President Camille N. Johnson speaks during a BYU–Hawaii devotional about other members of the Church Educational System Executive Committee, at the Cannon Activity Center in Laie, Hawaii, Tuesday, May 24. January 2023.

Monique Saenz, BYU–Hawaii

Teachings of President Nelson

When asked what message from President Nelson has resonated with them, President Johnson spoke about the Prophet’s first talk after being delivered in April 2018, where he invited Church members to seek personal revelation and learn how to use the blessing of the Holy Spirit to guide them. , direct and comfort.

The message resonated with her then, President Johnson said, but it became even more important to her in April 2021 when she was called to be the Primary general president and thought about how to teach children about the Holy Ghost.

“That lesson from President Nelson and that invitation to better understand how the Holy Ghost communicates with me has made a world of difference for me and has given me more confidence that I am on a mission from the Lord,” President Johnson said.

Elder Christofferson referred to President Nelson’s keynote address in the last conference, where he said: “Dear brothers and sisters, God is the source of all truth. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints embraces all truth that God transmits to His children, either learned in a scientific laboratory or received by direct revelation from Him.

That message is especially important in a college setting, Elder Christofferson said, where people seek to know and live by the truth. “This is done by being, feeling and acting responsible before God, the source of truth.”

Although it’s hard to pick a favorite address, Elder Gilbert said he tries to pay attention when the Prophet repeats something, which is why he paid particular attention when President Nelson repeated his command to young adults last May during his conference address in October. .

The Prophet repeated his request to take over one’s testimony. “Work for it. Take care of it so it grows. Feed it the truth.

Elder Gilbert encouraged students, “If you want to follow the Prophet, watch when he repeats something and pay special attention when he pleads with you.”

As Elder Johnson reflected on the Prophet’s invitation to “let God prevail,” he said he had noticed that at times it “seems like I’m trying to convince God to use His power to do my will, rather than trying to break my will.” my will”. will or allow my will to be subject to God’s will or align my will with His and focus my efforts on helping Him do His work.”

Learning to submit your will to God is “graduate work in the gospel,” Elder Johnson said, and it will be a lifelong effort.


Members of the Church Educational System Executive Committee, from left, Elder Paul V. Johnson of the Presidency of the Seventy, Church Education Commissioner Elder Clark G. Gilbert, and Elder D Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speak during a BYU-Hawaii Devotional in Laie, Hawaii on Tuesday, January 24, 2023.

Camille Young, BYU–Hawaii

BYU-Hawaii’s role at CES

When asked about the Church’s vision for the Church Educational System and BYU–Hawaii’s role in the plan, Elder Gilbert reiterated the CES mission: “We encourage students to become disciples of Jesus Christ, who can be leaders in their homes, the Church and in their communities.”

That is the central responsibility of Church educational institutions, Elder Gilbert said. “Don’t come here and just get a professional training and a degree and make wonderful friends in a beautiful place, but use your time to become something totally different in Jesus Christ.”

The wonderful education and preparation students receive is not an end in itself, Elder Christofferson agreed, “but it is a means to a greater end, to bless others, to bless the people in your homeland, to bless your own family, bless all those around him. In different ways. But you intend to use this wonderful blessing…as a tool to make a difference in other people’s lives just as the Savior did.”

Making the temple experience more meaningful

The final question asked of visiting Church leaders was how to make worship of the Savior in the temple more meaningful and worthwhile.

President Johnson said that he has tried to look for the Savior in the temple every time he goes. “He’s there,” he said. “He is in everything we do, what we say, the clothes we wear.”

President Johnson also reiterated President Nelson’s advice to those who do not love to go to the temple to go more. “Absolutely, positively true,” he said. “Go ahead and look for the Savior, and I know you will find him there.”


BYU–Hawaii students gather at the Cannon Activities Center on the Laie, Hawaii campus for a devotional with members of the Church Educational System Executive Committee, including Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Relief Society General President Camille N. Johnson, Elder Paul V. Johnson of the Presidency of the Seventy, and Church Education Commissioner Elder Clark G. Gilbert on Tuesday, January 24, 2023.

Monique Saenz, BYU–Hawaii

Although those who attend a temple session do and hear the same things, “each of us is developing, progressing, and deepening our conversion and discipleship based on our own readiness, where we are, and what we are open to receive,” Elder Christofferson added.

As people attend the temple, they need to be patient but diligent “and recognize that the Lord will speak to us as quickly and as much as we are ready to receive as we go along,” he said.

Elder Gilbert referred to President Nelson’s talk, “The Temple and Its Spiritual Foundation,” where the Prophet showed the foundation of the Salt Lake Temple during reconstruction. “When the renovations to the Salt Lake Temple are complete, there will be no safer place during an earthquake in the Salt Lake Valley than inside that temple,” President Nelson said.

At this point, Elder Gilbert said that he expected the Prophet to say that there was no safer place to be spiritually than the temple, but President Nelson added a sentence. “Whenever some kind of disruption occurs in your life, the safest place to be spiritually is to live within the temple covenants,” President Nelson taught.

As students think about their worship in the temple, Elder Gilbert said, “They can go to the temple and receive revelation. You can go to the temple and feel closer to the Savior, but most of all you remember the covenants you made in the temple, and in the days to come they will be your protection.”