3 Now they were desirous that salvation should be declared to every creature, for they could not bear that any human soul should perish; yea, even the very thoughts that any soul should endure endless torment did cause them to quake and tremble.
4 And thus did the Spirit of the Lord work upon them, for they were the very vilest of sinners. And the Lord saw fit in his infinite mercy to spare them; nevertheless they suffered much anguish of soul because of their iniquities, suffering much and fearing that they should be cast off forever.
5 And it came to pass that they did plead with their father many days that they might go up to the land of Nephi.
After Alma the Younger and his friends, the sons of Mosiah, were rebuked by an angel and told to stop attacking the church, all of them endured the suffering associated with recognition that they had done wrong. Alma was unable to move or speak for two days, and when he regained his strength, he declared that he had “[waded] through much tribulation, repenting nigh unto death” before being “redeemed from the gall of bitterness and bonds of iniquity” (Mosiah 27:28-29). Even though the sons of Mosiah were not physically immobilized, they were also in pain. As Mormon describes in the passage above, “they suffered much anguish of soul because of their iniquities, suffering much and fearing that they should be cast off forever.”
Their suffering was due not only to their fear about their own future state but also to their awareness of the harm they had caused to other people through their unrighteous influence. As Alma later related to his son Helaman, he felt that he “had murdered many of [God’s] children, or rather led them away unto destruction” (Alma 36:14). An awareness of the harm he had done to other people led him to wish that he could simply cease to exist. (See Alma 36:15.)
But through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, they did receive a remission of their sins. Their guilt was taken away, and they were filled with joy. Alma was specifically told that his experience was not unique, that everyone must receive a similar change of heart in order to be saved. (See Mosiah 27:25-26.)
So it’s not surprising that these young men were highly motivated to preach the gospel to others, both as a way of making restitution and to help other people find the peace which they had found through the Savior’s Atonement. Alma told his son more than 20 years later that “from that time even until now, I have labored without ceasing, that I might bring souls unto repentance; that I might bring them to taste of the exceeding joy of which I did taste; that they might also be born of God, and be filled with the Holy Ghost” (Alma 36:24). And as we read in the passage above, the sons of Mosiah “did plead with their father many days” to travel to the land of Nephi to preach the gospel to their enemies, the Lamanites.
To me, it’s significant that their motivation for doing missionary work was rooted in their own personal experience of conversion. They wanted to share the gospel with others because the gospel had literally saved them. They wanted to spare others the eternal torment which they had begun to experience before receiving a remission of their sins. Thus, their message was intensely personal and genuine. They were not simply repeating abstract concepts which they had been taught. They were sharing with others how to access a spiritual power which they had experienced themselves and which was available to all people on the same conditions.
Today, I will contemplate the ways the gospel has blessed my life. As I do so, I will remember that God loves all of His children, and I will think about ways that I can share with others the blessings I have received through the gospel.