Editor’s Note: All Georgian names have been changed for privacy.
In March 2022, a man named Irakli Tsuladze sent me this message via LinkedIn in the Georgian language: მოგესალმებით ბატონო ბრენტ, იაკობი თუ საქართველოშია დავურეკავ ან მივწერ, მისვლა მინდა ეკლესიაში.1 That message translates to: “Hello Mr. Brent, if Jacob is in Georgia, I will call him or write to him. I want to come to Church.” While this isn’t the first message I’ve received from someone in the Eastern European country of Georgia asking about the gospel, it is humbling and exciting every time.
When my son, Jacob, was called to the Armenia/Georgia Mission in January 2019, my wife and I became curious about this unfamiliar part of the world. I had lived overseas for eight years in Japan, Germany, and Brazil and had been curious about other cultures from a young age. We also wanted to help support Jacob and share this unique mission experience with him. My wife and I listened in on Jacob’s at-home MTC language training and found the language to be fascinating.
Out of curiosity, I searched for citizens of Georgia on LinkedIn, the employment-focused social media site, and soon began to connect with many of them. I had held an adjunct faculty position working with graduate students in business and healthcare for several years, so I started inviting university professors and administrators from Georgia to connect with me.
A screenshot of LinkedIn messages between Brent and an individual in Georgia.
With each introduction to Georgians on LinkedIn, I informed them that my son was moving to Georgia, and I wanted to learn about their country. I asked for book recommendations in English that would help me learn Georgian history, culture, and language. I received recommendations for many books, as well as for several classic Georgian movies that would help me understand the Georgian people.
I read most of the books they recommended and found the movies online and watched them with English subtitles. These resources were very helpful in increasing my understanding of Jacob’s experiences in Georgia.
Little by little, over a period of 18 months, I connected with more than 560 people in Georgia from a variety of backgrounds, most of whom had English-language skills. I learned to love the people and their historical and Christian heritage, of which they are so proud, maybe as much as Jacob did.
Although my intent was to learn about Georgia and help Jacob transition into a new culture, people were naturally curious about why Jacob would want to come to Georgia and learn their hard language. Over a period of weeks and months, it became very natural for my explanations to lead to an individual invitation to watch an event such as general conference or RootsTech, participate in the Light the World campaign, watch a TV interview of missionaries, or read a digital copy of the Book of Mormon. I let my Georgian LinkedIn contacts know that, if they would like, Jacob would be happy to meet with them after he arrived in their country. I saw these invitations as a natural way to keep my covenant to gather Israel.2
I had no idea that reaching out on LinkedIn from my home in Anchorage, Alaska, would lead to what I consider significant experiences with Georgians. What we experienced together gave me a stronger personal witness that Jesus Christ is the Lord of the Harvest in a very personal way. It is incredible to me that the Lord was able to use my small offering and turn it into unprecedented opportunities for Jacob and his companions to teach the gospel. As the Lord said, “Out of small things proceedeth that which is great.”3
Here are a few examples of the Lord using small offerings to accomplish great things.
Meeting with Academics and Professionals
Nino Korkotadze is a professor of computer engineering and a Fulbright Scholar with international recognition for modeling neural networks for stroke diagnosis. She and I connected on LinkedIn in September 2019, and she met Jacob in November 2019, soon inviting him to teach in her university class. Jacob writes of their class visit, “A couple weeks before Christmas, my companion and I visited Nino’s senior capstone class in person. After a couple of the student presentations, we gave a short presentation on why we were in Georgia and the basics of the Church. We answered several questions that could have been seen as hostile in a non-classroom setting, but we were prepared with answers and all tension was defused. We ended by inviting the class to come to the branch Christmas program. Nino encouraged everyone to go, and although none of them showed up, it was a valuable experience for us to have as newer missionaries.”
A single contact on LinkedIn led to an entire college class hearing about the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. How could I have possibly known that this college professor would not only meet with the missionaries but also invite them to talk about the gospel with her entire class. I couldn’t have known, but the Lord of the Harvest did. I learned as President Russell M. Nelson taught, “The Lord loves effort, because effort brings rewards that can’t come without it.”4
Maia Gorgadze is also a professor and a Fulbright Scholar. We connected online in November 2019, and in May 2021, she invited Jacob and his companion to teach in her American Studies university class.
Jacob writes of that experience, “Maia had essentially asked my companion and me to be guest lecturers for her entire two-hour class period over Zoom. We thought for a while about how best to fit the gospel into an American government lecture. We initially began our presentation by talking about the states we were from [Alaska and Utah] and answered questions. We then transitioned to talking about President Dallin H. Oaks’s April 2021 general conference address about the U.S. Constitution.5 This led nicely to talking about the unprecedented religious freedom enjoyed by early Americans, which allowed for the Restoration of the gospel. Some students had wonderful questions. They were young and had heard a lot more about the Church than most Georgians we had met previously. We corrected several false notions about the Church, and they seemed to accept our explanations incredibly well. Having direct connection with college students that are actively interested in expanding their horizons and learning true ideas is a miracle for missionaries in Georgia.”
Maia sent a letter of appreciation to the elders, praising them and their message. In part, she wrote, “Your presentation on the history, traditions, and beliefs of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was impressive. Thank you for your wonderful job, for being with us, and sharing your knowledge, experience, and values. Thank you for studying the Georgian language well, and for your immense effort to understand more about Georgian culture, traditions, beliefs, and people. God bless you both.”
She also asked that the missionaries keep in contact with her and invited them to come again.
Sister Abigail Black and Sister Sydne Wright kept in contact with Maia and taught her university course a few months later. 6
In addition, at the beginning of 2023, Maia shared with me that she wants Sister Wright, her companion, and all the missionaries to participate in a presentation by an American religious history professor. The Lord blessed a simple internet friendship to become multiple opportunities for various missionaries to represent the Church of Jesus Christ to many young people in Georgia. Such experiences became witness after witness to me that the Lord directs His work and will hasten His work as we make even a small effort to share His gospel with others.7
Ketevan Khutsishvili is a curator at the Georgian National Museum. We connected in January 2020, and she met Jacob in March 2020. Jacob writes, “Ketevan was a delight to meet. Her expertise was used in a research article about the scattering of the ten tribes of Israel. My companion and I introduced the Book of Mormon to her as a record of a remnant of the tribe of Manasseh. She gave us a tour of the museum and showed us some Jewish artifacts found in Georgia. As she gave a tour, we had some good discussion on the scattering and gathering of Israel.”
While these experiences all introduced the gospel to people who knew little to nothing about the Church, LinkedIn also gave Jacob and me opportunities to connect with members in Georgia who hadn’t been in contact with the Church in some time.
Finding Lost Members
Rezo Ormotsadze is a young man in his mid-twenties. He joined the Church in Tbilisi, Georgia, in 2016. When we connected in December 2019, he wrote me fondly of his Church experience:
“My missionaries were Elder V. and Elder M. I even lived a one-week missionary life with two other missionaries and helped them proselyte in Ortachala area. … I also baptized one of our member[s] in the church. … Yes, I [held the] Melchizedek priesthood and performed priesthood ordinances such as blessing and comforting members who felt doubts and wanted to feel the Holy Ghost’s presence in their lives more.”8 Rezo had since moved to the town of Gori and was unable to attend Church due to the distance.
During a call from Jacob to our family, he and other missionaries were in the Church building doing research on members they couldn’t locate. As they were talking, I heard the name Rezo Ormotsadze. I asked Jacob if I heard the name correctly. He said, “Yes; they didn’t know how to locate him.”
I said, “Jacob, Rezo lives in Gori.”
He sounded confused and said, “What? How do you know that?”
I said, “I connected with him on LinkedIn.”
My son, with jubilation, told the other missionaries, and one replied jokingly, “Your dad is the best missionary in Georgia!”
The best missionary in Georgia is the Lord of the Harvest, Jesus Christ. The Good Shepherd knows His sheep and where to find them. The scriptures say that He works with us.9 We testify from experience that He does, no matter the time zone.
I connected with another man named Giorgi Khatiashvili in December 2019. During the next 12 months, I told him about my son living in Georgia, invited him to several online Church events, and shared the newly translated Book of Mormon in Georgian, which first became available digitally in 2018.
While talking with my son in January 2021, he said, “Dad, do you know Giorgi Khatiashvili?” I replied, “I recognize the name from LinkedIn.” Jacob said, “I met him in Tbilisi this week when he came to pay fast offerings to the branch president. When I told him my name, he asked, ‘Is your father Brent Fisher? Tell him I say hello.’” Giorgi described this meeting with Jacob as “quite an interesting and impressive moment.”10
Giorgi had never told me he was a Church member and wasn’t actively participating. Yet after communicating with me, he had traveled two hours from his family village to the branch president’s house to pay his fast offerings—and Jacob and his companion happened to be at the president’s house at the time.
In March 2022 Giorgi wrote, “Thank you for your attention and offers of support; I really appreciate it. … I am hoping to be at the Church at least once during this month.”11 When I saw Giorgi’s name, I felt like I needed to connect with him, and now I can’t help but feel that perhaps the personal invitations brought him closer to Jesus Christ.
The Work Goes On
Irakli Tsuladze, who I mentioned at the beginning, invited me to connect on LinkedIn in May 2020. I told him about Jacob’s one-year anniversary in Georgia and invited Irakli to meet him. A few months before Jacob came home, they were able to meet and talked together for a long time. Irakli was impressed with Jacob and his companion and was very complimentary. Then in March 2022, Irakli messaged me to say that he was ready to attend his first Latter-day Saint church meeting. Jacob had been home for eight months at that point, so I contacted other missionaries who were still in the country to help Irakli. I have continued to communicate with Irakli and with other Georgian missionaries when the opportunity requires.
These are just a few of the many good Georgian people Jacob and I were blessed to be in contact with. Over 70 other people either met, were willing to meet, or were willing to help Jacob while he was in Georgia. Almost four years after Jacob first received his mission call, I continue regular communication with these Georgian friends.
President Russell M. Nelson taught, “Every day that you and I choose to live celestial laws, every day that we keep our covenants and help others to do the same, joy will be ours.”12 We are witnesses that this counsel is true.
With each interaction my Georgian connections had with Jacob, I felt them become true friends. Jacob represented Jesus Christ on his mission and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but he also represented the Fisher family. I felt that each kindness to him was a kindness to me. I felt that each invitation they accepted to hear the message he brought was an invitation accepted from me. As father and son—member missionary and full-time missionary—we kept our covenants together. We experienced parts of his mission together. And we experienced joy together.
Showing interest and love, sharing inspired messages, and inviting others to come and see and do things to come unto Christ, brings the Spirit.13 I am grateful for this inspired counsel and to assist in this great work, even from twelve time zones away.
The authors acknowledge input from Sister Abigail Black, Sister Sydne Wright, and Sister Ashlynn Weaver.
1. T.B., LinkedIn_message, March 3, 2022.
2. Russell M. Nelson, “The Everlasting Covenant,” Liahona, October 2022: “The Lord has commanded that we spread the gospel and share the covenant.”
3. Doctrine and Covenants 64:33.
4. Joy D. Jones, “An Especially Noble Calling,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2020, 16.
5. Dallin H. Oaks, “Defending Our Divinely Inspired Constitution,” General Conference, April 2021.
6. K.R., LinkedIn_message, July 24, 2022.
7. Nelson, “The Everlasting Covenant.”
8. S.T., LinkedIn_message, December 15, 2019.
9. Jacob 5:72; Doctrine and Covenants 33:9; 68:6.
10. G.I., personal_email_message, March 31, 2022.
12. Russell M. Nelson, “Joy and Spiritual Survival,” Ensign, November 2016.
13. General Handbook 23.1