Elder Brent H. Nielson, of the Presidency of the Seventy, and his wife Marcia Nielson will start a 10-day ministering tour in the Caribbean Area to meet and uplift members of the Church in the Bridgetown Barbados Mission and the Port of Spain Trinidad Mission from February 17th thru 27th.
This is Elder Nielson’s third visit to the Caribbean Area. In his last visit, he accompanied Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for an Area Annual Instruction Meeting with stake and mission presidents, and several outreach opportunities with government officials.
In each section of his schedule, he will be accompanied by members of the Area Presidency and other area priesthood leaders. They expect to share inspirational thoughts and leadership training with missionaries and stake/district leaders, and share devotionals with a variety of groups in different settings, including a special devotional for married couples in Jamaica. They also will participate in humanitarian initiatives and hold private meetings with government officials whose branches are key partners of the Church in their common interest to care for those in need through better nutrition, education, and self-reliance opportunities, as well as improving communities and strengthening bonds of friendship, mutual respect, and cooperation with those in public offices.
Details about different meetings and activities have been distributed through Church's official digital channels and updates will be provided in this article.
About Elder Brent H. Nielson
Brent H. Nielson was born in Idaho, USA, in December 1954. He served as a full-time missionary in Finland and married Marcia Ann Bradford in 1978. He attended Brigham Young University and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English (1978). In 1981, he received a doctorate degree in law from the University of Utah. He practiced law in Idaho for over 29 years.
Throughout his life, Elder Nielson has served in numerous callings, including full-time missionary, ward Young Men’s president, bishop, high councilor, counselor in a stake presidency, stake president, and area seventy. He was called as a General Authority in April 2009, and he has served in many capacities including counselor in the Pacific Area and president of the Philippines Area. He was named a member of the Presidency of the Seventy on August 1, 2020.
He also served as the executive director of the Missionary Department (2015-2020), and he currently assists Elder Quentin L. Cook in supervising the North America West Area, and Elder Gary E. Stevenson in supervising the Pacific Area.
Elder Brent H Nielson, General Authority Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints began his tour of the Caribbean Districts and Branches in Barbados. He held meetings with missionaries from the Bridgetown Barbados Mission, local leadership, and Church members in his 3-day visit.
He taught the missionaries to focus their time on service. “The only thing you need to worry about is whom you are going to serve today.” He reminded them that they are part of an amazing team across the World where every month 20,000 people are baptized into the Church.
Elder Nielson challenged all members to help the missionaries find new ways to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ. He reminded them that everyone is a missionary and encouraged them to get involved using all the different ways at their disposal, including social media. “If you see a good message from our Church, share it. Wonderful things will happen.
The Lord has a plan to find his children. We can participate in that plan as we use social media to share the message Jesus Christ has commissioned each one of us to do.”
Finalizing his trip to Barbados, on February 20th Elder Nielson met with the Barbados Minister of Social Partnership Relations, Hon. Colin E. Jordan, M.P. Also in that meeting was Elder Eduardo Gavarret, President of the Caribbean Area, Daniel Bickmore, President of the Bridgetown, Barbados Mission, and Kathie Daniel, Director of Communications for the Church in Barbados. Minister Jordan was accompanied by his secretary, Doctor Karen Best, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Labour and Social Partnership Relations.
During the meeting, the Church’s efforts throughout the World to assist in emergencies were discussed, as well as the Church’s ongoing humanitarian efforts in the recent earthquake in Turkey and the help that the Church can provide in case of hurricanes and other natural disasters, including the offer of Church buildings as a resource in emergencies.
Another topic of the meeting was the possibility of support in helping the Church gain membership in the Inter-Faith Council. Minister Jordan stated that his goal is to have all faiths represented in the Inter-Faith council.
Impressed by the Work of The Church – Prime Minister of Guyana
Elder Brent H Nielson began his tour of the Caribbean Districts and Branches in Barbados. He held meetings with government officials, missionaries from the Bridgetown Barbados Mission, local leadership, and Church members.
On Thursday, February 22, 2023, Elder Brent H. Nielson, of the Presidency of the Seventy the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, along with Elder Jorge Alvarado met with the Prime Minister of Guyana Brig. (ret’d) Mark Phillips at the Office of the Prime Minister Georgetown, Guyana.
At the meeting which can be described as cordial and enlightening, Elder Nielson share with the Honourable Prime Minister regarding the Church’s readiness to lend support to the initiatives of the Government of Guyana.
In this regard, the ‘One Guyana” initiative was singled out as a remarkable effort that is congruent with the Church’s Christian Doctrine of unity among all peoples.
The Prime Minister was pleased to acknowledge that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints over the years has, through its humanitarian efforts touched and improved the lives of many Guyanese.
Special mention was made of the Church’s readiness as a first responder in times of disaster, and also the Church’s ability to provide assistance in improving literacy and the health needs of the Guyanese. The Prime Minister also acknowledged the considerable assistance provided to Guyana by the Church during the fight against the Covid-19 Pandemic.
Elder Nielson urged the Prime Minister to regard the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as the ‘go to’ organization in times of need.
The Prime Minister commended the Church for its vision, and indicated that he is familiar with the Church’s efforts locally. He also noted that the Church is visible through its missionaries and its Helping Hands service.
Prime Minister Mark Phillips also indicated that his government is impressed with the Humanitarian and other efforts by the Church and assured Elder Nielson that the Government of Guyana stands willing to partner with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in fostering unity and social change among Guyanese.
Trinidad and Tobago
Special Devotional for Members and Friends in Trinidad
On Thursday 23, February 2023, the doors of the Port of Spain Trinidad Stake Center were opened to welcome members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and their friends to participate in a shared spiritual experience during a special devotional with Elder Brent H. Nielson, of the Presidency of the Seventy. His eternal companion, Sister Marcia Nielson and Elder Jorge M. Alvarado, of the Seventy and First Counselor in the Caribbean Area Presidency, accompanied him.
The Great Commission
During his address, Elder Jorge M. Alvarado quoted Doctrine and Covenants 115:4-5 and expounded the great commission of all Christ’s disciples; to share with our neighbor the gospel of happiness. He explained that many are asking questions within their heart's questions such as “what is my purpose?”, “Is there a prophet?”, and “are the heavens closed?” Moreover, confirmed that the Book of Mormon has the power to answer any and all of these.
Elder Alvarado reminded the church membership that we are “agents to act” (2 Nephi 2:26) and admonished that we ought to manage our agency well. We should share the gospel by example and through natural conversations then invite those with whom we speak to pray about the things they have heard. He closed with an invitation for each member to share through natural dialogue, what makes them happy or to share the gospel that is in their heart and then allow the people with whom they spoke to ponder the conversation. He testified that this is how we love our neighbor.
A Secret Whistle
Sister Marcia Nielson recounted an experience she observed at the notoriously busy Atlanta Airport. She was prompted to observe an elderly couple find each other through the hustle and bustle because of a Well-rehearsed low-tone whistling sound the lady had made to guide the gentleman to her. Sister Nielson noted that others not so keenly attuned might not have discerned the call and likened the scenario to personal communication between an individual and their Heavenly Father.
She underscored that Heavenly Father communicates with different people in different ways and that it is possible to hear quietly, in our hearts and minds, that which He wants us to do at any given time (John 10:27). Sister Nielson echoed the repeated invitation from President Russel M. Nelson, “I invite you to think deeply and often about this question; how do I hear Him?...do whatever it takes to increase your capacity for personal revelation.”
Technology and its Role in Sharing the Gospel
At the opening of his remarks, Elder Brent H. Nielson testified of the truthfulness of the previous speakers’ messages and quoted Matt 28:19, which reads, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost”.
Thereafter, he recounted several examples of initiatives undertaken by the Missionary Department of the church, where technology was used in sharing the gospel. He advised that we have a special responsibility to learn how to use technology wisely and encourage our youth and young adults to do the same.
More specifically, Elder Nielson shared a few videos created for the online distribution and encouraged participants to use the videos (available via https://comeuntochrist.org) to initiate natural conversations with friends and followers on social media.
He testified of the truthfulness of the gospel and that God’s church has been restored to the earth. He expressed gratitude to Jesus Christ for the opportunity to visit the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.
On the penultimate day of the visit of Elder Brent A. Nielson and Sister Marcia Nielson to Jamaica they met with saints of the Kingston Jamaica Stake for a Special Devotional for members and friends. Elder Nielson serves as a member of the Presidency of the Seventy. Accompanying the Nielsons on this assignment were Elder Moises Villanueva, Second Counselor in the Caribbean Area Presidency, and his wife Sister Leticia Villanueva as well as Elder Kevin Brown, Area Seventy and his wife Sister Nadine Brown.
In attendance at the Constant Spring Chapel in Kingston were above 230 members and friends of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints with other congregants joining virtually from locations across Jamaica and in Nausea, the Bahamas.
In her address to the saints, Sister Villanueva emphasized the value of children and youth. She urged parents to be “patient and diligent” in helping the rising generation to develop. She also highlighted the relevance of the church’s Children and Youth programme as a tool for helping parents to fulfil this divine mandate.
In his address, Elder Villanueva instructed the saints on the blessing of obeying the Law of Tithing. “The law of tithing is for the rich and the poor alike”, he reminded. “Whether we are rich or poor the Lord asks us to give tithing with full purpose of heart.”
He also counselled the saints that the payment of tithes does not mean that “we will immediately receive material blessings”, but the Lord blesses us in many other ways. “We need to seek the guidance of the Spirit so that we can see what the Lord is giving us abundantly”, he advised.
Sister Nielson, admonished the saints to follow the counsel of President Nelson to invest time in understanding how we “hear the voice of the Lord”. “Our Prophet is telling us that the Lord has things that he wants to tell us”, she remarked. “Do a little more to follow that voice whatever that is within our hearts.” Find out, “How do you hear Him”
Elder Nielson admonished parents to safeguard their children. Symbolically “forming a circle around them to protect them”. He emphasized the importance of temple covenants in empowering parents to perform this role. He also encouraged obedience to the commandments of God. “There is a reason God gives us commandments” , Elder Nielson related, “and that is because it keeps us safe”. Referencing the law of gravity, he reminded the saints that God operates by laws and, that with God’s laws, “The ground always comes”.
Referencing the necessary transition to the use of technology to support missionary efforts during the pandemic and the successful outcomes of those efforts, Elder Nielson reminded the saints that “Prophets and Apostles can see around the corners”. He further assured that as members of the Church of Jesus Christ, we can flood the earth with the gospel by using technology. “We have to learn to share the gospel through technology, he later urged.
Reflections from members:
Sister Simone Williams (Portmore Ward) “This has been very inspirational. I have learned that no matter what comes your way the church Is here to guide us”.
Adam Lawton (Spanish Town Ward) “I have learned that I must listen to rules and not question them because they are here for a reason.”
Sister Sarah Peart (Constant Spring Ward) “These messages remind me to stay within the lines…stay on the covenant path and not to get distracted. Also, when we do missionary work, we can do it anywhere!”
Marie Daley (Spanish Town Ward) “I didn’t know that there were so many ways to share the gospel, even if you do not have the words…there is no excuse to not share the gospel, I feel so inspired”
Aaron Daley (Spanish Town Ward) “The story of how the Atheist got touched by the Holy Spirit and joined the church, teaches me that with God anything is possible.”
Roxanne Watts (Old Harbour Branch) “I would describe this experience as overwhelming. It gives me a reason to be consistent and not to have one foot in and another foot out of the church.”
Sister Norma Grant (Kingston Branch) “I will have to pray more to know how Heavenly father wants me to hear him. I need to share quotes on social media from the church so people who know me will see and ask questions and I can then invite them to hear the missionaries.”
Elder Brent H. Nielson taught that the Gospel is about families and we are as one family. Heavenly Father invites us to come to Him and partake of sacred covenants. The Greatest Joy we all can have, is to help others to receive the Ordinances of the Gospel. Each of us must have the desire to develop ourselves in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to help others to come into Christ.
Elder Nielson invited the congregation to think about the name of a person we want to help to come into Christ and what we can do to invite that person to participate with us or help a member of the Church to return to the Gospel.
An important question to ourselves is what we can do to help others to participate in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to receive the saving ordinances.
We must invite persons to come unto Christ in a normal and natural way, and with a pure heart, and the Lord will do the rest of the Work.
Elder Nielson invited the Leaders in Suriname to use the power given to them, to act and make great things happen in Suriname.
Sister Nielson spoke about the fact that President Russel M. Nelson moves her heart and that she desires that he will continue to have good health and to live long, so that we might continue to receive his inspiring words.
She taught us that we must do whatever it takes to increase our capacity to be worthy of the Power of the Holy Ghost. She said that our Heavenly Father has a special way to communicate with us when he wants us to pay closer attention to Him. It is like a' Whistle' we hear in our inner soul, that speaks just to us.
Sister Nielson said that Church is serious business and that the voice of the Holy Ghost has the ability to teach us all of the things we have to do.
Elder Jorge Alvarado gave practical ways to fulfill the great commission that we have as members of the Church. They are:
- Talk about God's love.
- Teach all nations.
- Pray to raise up missionaries.
- Actively look for those who need the Gospel.
- Empower each other.
- Take care of our current missionaries.
He taught that when we share the Gospel, amazing things started to happen. We can use smartphones and other devices to teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
'God's creations consist of things that act and things that are acted upon' 2Nephi2:14.
As human beings, as members of the Church, we have been given the power to act and have both the obligation and privilege to do so.