Elder Ballard speaks on BYUH, PCC impact

[Story by Mike Foley: Published originally in the BYU-Hawaii online “Newsroom,” June 11, 2008]

Elder M. Russell Ballard of the TwelveElder M. Russell Ballard [pictured at left] of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, emphasized the importance of the generosity of members of the BYU-Hawaii and Polynesian Cultural Center President’s Leadership Council (PLC) at their April 7, 2008, meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah, by underscoring the role the Lord would have the sister institutions accomplish, especially in Asia.

Elder Ballard started by speaking of the “great work that is very quietly going forth in the People’s Republic [of China] with the acceptance, direction, and approval from the Chinese government. We now have some 20 small branches of Chinese members that are authorized to meet; they hold their meetings on Sundays.”

He told of a “remarkable leader over there, Elder Chia Chu-Jen,” whom he first met in Toronto, Canada, about 25 years ago, when he was conducting interviews to select a new stake president. “Among those was Brother Chia. Sam Baker was called to be the stake president, and for the only time in 33 years of being a General Authority did I tell a stake president who his first counselor would be… I said to President Baker: ‘The Lord wants you to call Brother Chia to be your first counselor in the stake presidency because there are some things he needs to learn. I don’t know what they are — I just know that this is a prompting that has come to me and that this is very important.'”

As he set Brother Chia apart, Elder Ballard said, “I was stunned as I listened to what the Lord was saying to him: He was told by the power of God that the Lord would open the way and that within a short season he would be transferred to his native country, the People’s Republic of China, where he would take on the great work of establishing the Church.” Since then, he added, “Elder Chia has been at the very core of the work to gain the approval of the government and to establish and set up small groups of Church members. He’s the father, so to speak — the pioneer leader of what’s going on there.

“Now, I don’t know totally what the Lord has in mind for China or for countries like India and areas like the Pacific Rim, but I think that as we watch and are sensitive and attentive, we will see the hand of the Lord reach in now and start raising up people and putting them in a position to do what needs to be done in the work according to the laws of the land and according to the purposes that our Heavenly Father has for that part of the world,” Elder Ballard continued.

“I believe that BYU–Hawaii is going to have an even greater role in this process of preparing the leadership of the Church in the future for that part of the world. Ever since I have been closely associated with the BYU-Hawaii campus, I have felt that those who have had a vision for this university — President Joseph F. Smith, President David O. McKay, and others — must have seen way beyond the Polynesian parts of the Church. They must have seen that there was a destiny for the university and the Polynesian Cultural Center that would move far beyond their original purposes.”

“I think we’re going to need all the support, help, and resources we can muster to prepare BYU-Hawaii and the Polynesian Cultural Center to carry the gospel to the four corners of the earth, into parts of the world where over 60 percent of our Heavenly Father’s children live. I think we have a tremendous opportunity and obligation to love and appreciate what is occurring and what can occur in Hawaii.”

“You must understand your role in preparing, raising up, training, and teaching a corps that will go out and do the work. This vision is far beyond what perhaps any of you will be able to see when you see them as struggling students — walking from class to class, doing the things you have them doing. You need to start looking at these students who come from these far-off parts of the world not as students but as Relief Society presidents, elders quorum presidents, high councilors, bishops, and stake presidents. I think developing these leaders is one of the great destinies and responsibilities that BYU–Hawaii has, and I’m so grateful for all that has been done to that end in the past.”

Elder Ballard pointed out it was time for BYU-Hawaii to “move with a little more efficiency, a little more focus, a little more direction, and a little more courage than perhaps we have done in the past.

He told President Wheelwright to “have the courage to renew and to put forward every resource, everything you’ve learned, and everything that you bring to this new charge as president of Brigham Young University Hawaii so that all of us here can have great confidence in contributing and making the necessary sacrifices — to put the resources in your hands so that the good ship of BYU–Hawaii sails smoothly through these turbulent times that lie ahead.”

He recognized that President Von Orgill and the Polynesian Cultural Center focus a lot of leadership and effort to keep the PCC “vital, moving, and exciting and that is going forward at great dispatch and power.”

He thanked the PLC members for the previous generosity and asked them “to continue to support this great effort. God bless you that you’ll capture the vision of where this Church is going and the tremendous role that you will play and that the university will play in developing the kingdom of God in the Pacific Rim.”

“These roles are not going to get smaller; they will just get larger. With the help of the Lord, great progress can be made,” Elder Ballard said, reassuring the PLC members that the General Authorities “know and understand the challenges and problems at BYU-Hawaii, at the Polynesian Cultural Center, at Brigham Young University in Provo, and at BYU-Idaho.”

“It’s going to take a united effort — the united strength, faith, testimonies, and courage of the membership of the Church — to fulfill our destiny and preparation for that day and time when the Savior will say, ‘It is enough,’ and will come to rule as King of Kings and Lord of Lords and Head of the Church. God bless us to that end. I humbly pray in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.”

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