When President Russell M. Nelson reached out to the women of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints asking to hear their experiences with the invitations he issued during general conference, over 10,000 women shared their stories on social media.
In October general conference, President Nelson pleaded, "My dear sisters, we need you! We need your strength, your conversion, your conviction, your ability to lead, your wisdom, and your voices. We simply cannot gather Israel without you."
In his call to the sisters to help gather scattered Israel, President Nelson issued four invitations, saying:
"[Gathering Israel] is a cause that desperately needs women, because women shape the future. So tonight I’m extending a prophetic plea to you, the women of the Church, to shape the future by helping to gather scattered Israel.
"Where can you start? May I offer four invitations:
"First, I invite you to participate in a 10-day fast from social media and from any other media that bring negative and impure thoughts to your mind. Pray to know which influences to remove during your fast. . . .
"Second, I invite you to read the Book of Mormon between now and the end of the year. . . . As you read, I would encourage you to mark each verse that speaks of or refers to the Savior. Then, be intentional about talking of Christ, rejoicing in Christ, and preaching of Christ with your families and friends. . . .
Third, establish a pattern of regular temple attendance. . . .
My fourth invitation, for you who are of age, is to participate fully in Relief Society. I urge you to study the current Relief Society purpose statement."
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On lds.org, President Nelson sincerely thanked all who participated in his invitations: "Many of you have seized this challenge with great vigor. I wish to tell you that the Lord loves you. . . . If you participated in any of these challenges, I want you to know that you are helping to gather scattered Israel. No matter how much time you spend on them, please know that the Lord is mindful and pleased with every effort you make."
President Nelson then shared some experiences from sisters around the world who responded to these invitations.
Among those experiences he mentioned was Connie's:
“President Nelson, thank you for the challenge of reading the Book of Mormon. I started the next morning. Little did I know that later that week I would be diagnosed with cancer. I have loved my time with those wonderful prophets and their teachings. Every morning I have found something to help me through one more day of my battle with this disease.”
Another sister, Cindy, shared on Facebook how President Nelson's invitations similarly helped her with a cancer diagnosis:
"While in Mosiah in late November, I was certain that I was not going to complete the Book of Mormon by the end of the year. My daughter told me, 'Mom, President Nelson said that if we tried we could do it!' I had this wonderful feeling come over me and I decided to renew my efforts. I gave up reading anything else for a while and focused my spare time in reading. I finished the last two amazing chapters on Sunday, December 30th. My tender mercy was not just finishing but at the timing of one verse. On Wednesday after Christmas, I received the news that I had breast cancer for the second time. Early Thursday morning I was reading in Mormon chapter 5. When I read verse 23, it was like it was written especially for me! 'Know ye not that ye are in the hands of God? Know ye not that he hath all power, and at his great command the earth shall be rolled together as a scroll?' I do not know what the new year will hold, but I do know that I will be alright because He has me in His hands and I can get through hard things with His help!"
Another sister, Alicia, shared how President Nelson's invitations helped her find a cherished set of scriptures she had been searching to find for 10 years—a miracle she will never forget. Sheryl shared how these invitations helped her through her husband's kidney failure, dialysis, and death. "My world and everything I knew was shattered, everything we had planned to do was now gone," she wrote on Facebook. She continues:
"November is a blurry memory at best. As the last casserole dish was returned and the last family member returned to their own homes, the realization that nothing would ever be the same really set in. Grief felt like a heavy fog over my heart and mind. I turned to the Lord.
"I opened my new Book of Mormon that I had been using for the challenge. The bookmark was still in First Nephi. Each time I read now, it’s not an obligatory task. I’m earnestly searching for my Savior and his healing power and grace. I have found Him."
President Nelson also shared the experience of Diana, who struggled with infertility for six years. She wrote:
“My husband and I have struggled with infertility since we were married 6 years ago. We had a miscarriage a little over a year ago and it was reading the scriptures that kept me strong as I felt the Lord directing our lives and giving us comfort and strength and guidance during such a hard trial. I hold on to those personal whisperings of the Spirit ever so close to my heart.
“With this challenge I went to God in faith asking for the greatest desire of my heart, to be a mother, knowing that in the end, I trusted His timing and will for us no matter what. But I also very strongly believed and felt that I needed to ask in faith, not wavering but being believing. I felt as though all I could offer and give to Him would fall short, but nevertheless my heart was all in. I trusted and truly believed that the Lord would answer my prayers if I tried my best, even if I’ll always fall short.
“Heavenly Father answered the longings of my heart, and on December 17 we found out we are pregnant. I believe in the power of faith and following the guidance of our prophet, that miracles do happen through the power of our faith and love in Jesus Christ.”
"I wish to thank you all for responding to my invitations. Your experiences with these challenges have been varied but meaningful. As we shift to a more home-centered, Church-supported curriculum, please remember that we need you. . . . "Sisters, I love you and thank you. As a result of your efforts, I promise that the heavens will open for you. The Lord will bless you with increased inspiration and revelation. Together we can do all that our Heavenly Father needs us to do to prepare the world for the Second Coming of His Beloved Son."