- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day SaintsQuorum of the Twelve Apostles, 1985 - present
Elder M. Russell Ballard is a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He has been serving as an Apostle since October 6, 1985, traveling throughout the earth to instruct Church members and direct day-to-day affairs of the worldwide Church.
He was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, on October 8, 1928, to Melvin R. and Geraldine Smith Ballard. He attended the University of Utah.
As a young man, he served a mission to England for the Church, where he was a counselor in the mission presidency. He has also served as a bishop twice.
In 1974, he was called as president of the Canada Toronto Mission, where he was serving when called to the First Quorum of the Seventy in April of 1976. As a member of the Seventy, he supervised and trained leaders in his assigned geographic regions. He later served as a member of the Presidency of the Seventy from February 1980 to October 1985, overseeing the Church’s Quorums of the Seventy. Much of his ministry has been focused on missionary work.
Prior to his call as a full-time Church leader, Elder Ballard had interests in the automotive, real estate, and investment businesses. He has served on many Church and civic committees and boards.
He married Barbara Bowen in the Salt Lake Temple on August 28, 1951. They are the parents of two sons and five daughters.
- University of Utah
If any of you tamper with this evil, I ask you to stop. Use all the power you have been given as a child of God. Draw a clear line and stay on the right side—the Lord’s side—of that line!
None of us are perfect. God knows this. That is the very reason He provided an escape—the cleansing power of repentance. Please properly repent of this temptation and return to God.
I shared this message with members on my recent trip to Russia, Ukraine, Latvia, and Estonia. I felt impressed that Jesus taught and focused on basic principles—such as baptism, the Holy Ghost, repentance, and enduring to the end. This is the foundation of all that we do as a Church, and it is the message we preach to the world.
The Savior let His Apostle Thomas feel His wounds. If you can imagine Him visiting you, I believe that He would do the same for you. But how blessed are those who do not see with their eyes, but believe! May our testimonies always burn in our bosoms. He calls to each of us, “Come, follow me, and I will bring you back to the Father.”
This experience, along with others in my life, strengthened my testimony of the Lord’s devotion to each of us. How precious to the Savior is the one. Even though His life was pure and free of sin, He paid the ultimate penalty for sin—yours, mine, and everyone’s who has ever lived. I testify that His Atonement is designed to apply to each of us individually.
These habits seem to easily slip away in the rush of our very busy lives, even when we are engaged in good things like pursuing an education, working to support a family, and involving ourselves in community and Church service.
They include sincere daily prayer, faithful fasting, regular study and pondering of the scriptures and the words of the living prophets, making the Sabbath day a delight, partaking of the sacrament with humility and always remembering the Savior, worshipping in the temple as often as possible, and, finally, reaching out to the needy, poor, and, lonely—both those close by and across the world.
When someone stops doing these simple but essential things, they allow Satan to muddle their thinking. Sin and guilt cloud the mind—leading them to deny past inspiration and revelation and causing a “de-conversion” from the truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
It is my prayer that each of us will be faithful in these essential habits.
One of these truths is that The Church of Jesus Christ has always been led by living prophets and Apostles. I hope that we will regularly pray for and heed the counsel of our Church leaders.
Another truth is to observe the Sabbath day. I wish to remind you that the Sabbath is a precious gift that helps us remain unspotted from the world, provides us with physical rest, and gives each of us the spiritual refreshment of worshipping the Father and the Son every Sunday.
I know that as we hold to these and other truths of the gospel, we will be able to sail on within this glorious ship, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and reach our eternal destination.
It’s so wonderful for me to hear Barbara’s voice thank the Lord for watching over and protecting me for one more day. And I hope she feels the same way when I pray for her.
“Russ,” he said, “tell God to let me die.”
I replied, “I am not going to tell God to do anything, and neither are you! It doesn’t work that way. But I will give you a blessing to see what Father will have you do at this time.”
He said, “Well, if that is all you are going to do, then OK.” Shortly thereafter, he died.
My point in sharing this story is that we should never tell our Father what to do. I happen to believe that God must have a glorious sense of humor. People order Him around in prayers all the time! I often hear those prayers and think God must smile and think, “Someday they will understand.”
We should ask God for guidance and be patient. Move forward step by step in the plan of salvation and perform whatever He asks you to do. It is simple: have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and in His plan for you.
If that is the sensible course to take in finding answers for emotional, mental, and physical health issues, it is even more so when eternal life is at stake. When something has the potential to threaten our spiritual life, our most precious family relationships, and our membership in the kingdom, we should find thoughtful and faithful individuals to help us. And if necessary, we should ask those with appropriate academic training, experience, and expertise for help.
This is exactly what I do when I need an answer to my own questions that I cannot answer myself. I seek help from my Brethren in the Quorum of the Twelve and from others with expertise in fields of Church history and doctrine.
As I visited with the children at the camp, I felt impressed that they are in many ways just like those children who can be found in any of our primaries throughout the world.
A nine-year-old boy and his family were among the many we were able to tell that we have come to help them. He and his family had nothing but the clothes on their backs, but their smiles spoke of hope for a better way of life. It was an honor for me to watch as the relief organizations we have partnered with gave this boy not just the basic necessities, but even a soccer ball.
The Lord has made it clear that one of the great responsibilities of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is that we are to feed the hungry and the poor. We are to reach out and take care of them, and especially the children. I encourage each of us to remember this charge throughout this holiday season, and beyond. May God bless us all in our efforts as we do so.
As I attended the dedication of the Indianapolis Indiana Temple this weekend, I knew that I was walking on sacred, holy ground—a place of refuge from the storms of the world.
I invite you to go to the temple. Go as often as you can, and turn off your smartphones and put them away before you enter the temple grounds. If you choose, you can hear the still, small voice of the Spirit in the temple or on its sacred grounds in ways you never will at the mall, in restaurants, and in public places. In fact, you will find that the temple is a wonderful place to receive answers to your prayers.