“The Gospel of Jesus Christ Shall Be Declared Among Them the Remnant of Our Seed”

Bryan Richards
“In its overall structure, the Book of Mormon begins and ends with concern for the Lamanites receiving the gospel. Reiterating the main points from the title page, Nephi says that through the Book of Mormon the Lamanites shall know they are of Israel and through it ’they shall be restored unto the knowledge of their fathers, and also to the knowledge of Jesus Christ’ (2 Nephi 30:5; see 30:1-6). Then toward the end, Mormon says much the same thing: ’Know ye that ye are of the house of Israel… . Know ye that ye must come to the knowledge of your fathers, and repent of all your sins and iniquities, and believe in Jesus Christ’ (Mormon 7:2, 5). At the physical center of the book is the narrative of the conversion of the Lamanites. This central part begins with the decree of the king of the Lamanites that Ammon and his brethren should be free to preach the word of God throughout all the land, and ends with gratitude by these great missionaries for the thousands of Lamanite souls ‘brought to behold the marvelous light of God’ (Alma 26:3). The narrative high point of the book is the ministry of the resurrected Savior. While discoursing to both the Lamanites and Nephites before him, Jesus as well speaks to their descendants, saying that the Book of Mormon ’shall come forth of the Father, from [the Gentiles] unto you’ (3 Nephi 21:3). He confirms the prophecies of Isaiah that in the last days the children of Lehi will be gathered both physically and spiritually. ’Then is the fulfilling,’ he says, ’of the covenant which the Father hath made unto his people, O house of Israel’ (3 Nephi 20:12).” (FARMS: Review of Books, vol. 2-1990, Richard D. Rust “The Book of Mormon, Designed for Our Day”, p. 16)

We see the Father fulfilling this covenant as the missionaries have success preaching the gospel among the descendants of the Nephites and Lamanites in Central and South America. The Book of Mormon is the history of their ancestors and it rings true to them. Nevertheless, these missionary successes have come relatively recently—as the following quotes explain.

Spencer W. Kimball

"This year (1947) the Uruguayan Mission has been opened, and today with that mission and Brazil and Argentina, we have in South America 169 missionaries working among the Lamanites. This, of course, is in fulfilment of the dreams of the brethren and particularly the promise and prayer of Elder Melvin J. Ballard when on the 25th of December in 1925 he stood on the banks of El Rio de La Plata at Buenos Aires, and under the weeping willow trees there, blessed South America. He said this, among other things:

’…I turn the key, unlock, and open the door for the preaching of the gospel in all these South American nations, and rebuke, and command to be stayed, every power that would oppose the preaching of the gospel in these lands. And we do bless and dedicate these nations, and this land for the preaching of the gospel’ (The Improvement Era, April, 1926, pp. 575, 576.)" (Conference Report, Oct. 1947, p. 18)

After Elder Ballard blessed the land for the preaching of the gospel, the rate of growth of those who have been restored unto the knowledge of their fathers, and also to the knowledge of Jesus Christ is staggering:

“Church members in Latin America, especially in Mexico, Central America, and western South America, regard themselves as being among the descendants of the Nephites and Lamanites described in the Book of Mormon and hence as heirs to the great promises contained in that volume. In no other area was there greater Church growth during the third quarter of the twentieth century: Church membership in Latin America skyrocketed from less than 9,000 in 1950 to over 650,000 just three decades later. In 1950 only .8 percent of all Latter-day Saints lived in Latin America, while by 1980 the figure had reached 16.4 percent.” (Richard O. Cowan, The Church in the twentieth Century, 1985, p. 270)

President Kimball, while still an apostle, described the success of earlier missionary efforts amongst the Indians of North America:

Spencer W. Kimball

"There was a period back in 1875-6 when there were great numbers of Indians who came into the Church. There was Chief Poko-Tel-Lo from the Snake River, who, with his entire band, was baptized into the Church, and they left Salt Lake City going back to their homes determined to refrain from all evil practices. The old chief said that the other Indians were interested, and there would be many who would be baptized. There were fifty from the north who came down. Chief Alma with twenty-two of his people from the Salmon River country came down and were baptized into the Church. The chief made the prediction that there would be hundreds and thousands of the Indians come into the Church. Orson Pratt baptized fifty-two and blessed nine papooses down at Mount Pleasant in June of that year. In July there were eighty-five of Kanosh’s band who were baptized into the Church, and the following year there were forty-one men and thirty-nine women, Indians, baptized down at Kanab. It seems that there were a great many baptisms also up in the Malad country. I quote from The Deseret News of July 22. 1875:

’… Yesterday we met with Brother G. W. Hill, who has charge of a colony of several hundred Indians, mostly of the Shoshone, Bannock, and Pah Ute tribes. They are Indians who have come forward and demanded to be baptized. The location is in Malad Valley, Idaho Territory… . They declare their intention to wander about no more, but to lead industrious lives, at peace with all their fellow creatures, refraining from stealing and from all manner of bad practices, and abide by the conditions of their baptism, which are that they shall cease every species of wrongdoing. Elder Hill has baptized about three hundred since last spring.’" (i>Conference Report, Oct. 1947, p. 17)