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Professor says BYU students might be "catchers of men"

Damon L. Bahr, professor in the David O. McKay School of Education, spoke to students Tuesday in the Marriott Center in a devotional address suggesting that this generation’s responsibility and legacy could be to be catchers of men.

“When I walk the sidewalks of this campus I am often impressed with the innate goodness that radiates from you,” Bahr said. “There is divine purpose in people of your caliber being on the earth during times like these.”

Bahr asked students to think about what opportunities their generation had been given. In the large context of the history of this last dispensation, he said, each generation has responded to the call of the prophet and has in turn, left a legacy for those that follow.

“When the early members of our Church faced extreme difficulties traversing this continent, they were responding to the counsel of a living prophet,” Bahr said. “Although they recognized the reasons why they were doing so, I doubt very many of them thought about the legacy they were leaving behind for future generations as they pulled a handcart over a troublesome rock, faced early winters, or coaxed tired oxen to continue forward. I also doubt that they could predict that they would be known and honored by future generations of this dispensation in the manner we remember and honor them now.”

Regarding what legacy his own generation would leave, Bahr said, “Perhaps we might be known, among other things, as the generation who responded to a call of a prophet that every young man should serve a mission, a response requiring great sacrifice on the part of both young men and women and their families. History records that as a result of this sacrifice there was an almost immediate doubling of the full-time missionary force.”

He suggested that the students’ role might be that of catchers of men, and that the opportunity would come in part because others would have experiences which might propel them to find the truth.

Bahr referenced a verse in which Nephi described a natural consequence of increasingly difficult times that testify of the hand of the Lord.

“For the kingdom of the devil must shake, and they which belong to it must needs be stirred up unto repentance, or the devil will grasp them with his everlasting chains, and they be stirred up to anger, and perish” (2 Nephi 28:19).

Elder Maxwell called this shaking of the devil’s kingdom “redemptive turbulence,” and Bahr quoted him saying, “It is a very intriguing verse. . . . it will be such that a few people now caught up in (the) kingdom of the devil will be ‘stirred up’ and find their way out and into the kingdom of God. . . . there will be in this redemptive turbulence some jarring inconsistencies brought to the fore—jarring enough that they will cause some people who are caught up in the (kingdoms of the world) to leave and find the truth.”

“In other words,” Bahr said, “some people will tire of the natural consequences of living a worldly lifestyle, indeed, of living without God in the world, and seek for a better way of life. What is our role as redemptive turbulence literally shakes people out of the kingdom of the world? We must stand with our arms open, ready to catch them, accepting the Lord’s invitation to ‘Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers (or catchers) of men.’”

Being ready to catch those shaken out of the world by redemptive turbulence means being ready to do the catching in some unusual places, he said.

Bahr described his efforts to share the Gospel with his neighbors, those who placed solicitation calls to his house, a shuttle driver and a waiter.

“My young friends,” he said. “There is so much riding on whether or not you will stand steadfast, firm, and immovable in the face of redemptive turbulence. Don’t just focus on simply meeting the challenges of a darkening world in your own life. Seize the opportunities the conditions of our times provide you. God sent you to earth at this time for a very real reason. You are the generation with the capacity to stand up and be counted in ways that will change the course of history. The light you shine in so doing, even the light of Jesus Christ, will literally be the means the Lord will use to save many in this generation and generations to come.”


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