REXBURG, Idaho — More than 1,400 Brigham Young University-Idaho graduates were urged to make their influence felt in the digital world in an address given by Elder M. Russell Ballard at winter commencement exercises held Friday, April 11.
“Your experience here is not the end of your quest for knowledge,” Elder Ballard told the graduates. “We are blessed as Latter-day Saints to view the acquisition of knowledge from an eternal perspective … Of all the things you have learned at this institution and during your life so far, the most important is that you know the gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored to the earth through the Prophet Joseph Smith and you know that the Church is true. Your knowledge and testimony of this will always be your foundation and your polar star throughout your life.”
Elder Ballard told the graduates their strength and knowledge are needed in a world torn between good and evil. The evidence of this battle is apparent in popular media, including the Internet. “While there is so very much good, informative information on the Internet, one of Satan’s most seductive efforts is the increasingly present pornography appearing in all kinds of media,” he said.
Along with the terrible effects of pornography, the Internet and other media are often used to spread falsehoods, Elder Ballard said. “Every month there are 60 billion searches for information on the Internet. Many are seeking information about the Church; and while some are finding the truth, others find anti-Mormon sites that mislead them and defame the Church,” Elder Ballard said.
With all the falsehoods and misconceptions about the Church found online, Elder Ballard urged the graduates to use their knowledge and testimony of the gospel to influence seekers of truth. “Today I want to encourage you to reach out to others in the world to help change the perception and even the hearts of millions of our Heavenly Father’s children by correcting misunderstandings by sharing with them the message of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ,” he said.
Elder Ballard suggested that graduates join in conversations on the Internet to share the gospel and to explain the message of the Restoration in simple, clear terms. As they participate in these new media, Elder Ballard continued, the graduates should remember first and foremost that they are followers of the Savior Jesus Christ.
“You will leave here today and begin a lifetime of service to the Lord and His Church. May the Lord bless you with mature, powerful testimonies that you may bless many lives as you have influence on the individuals you come in contact with in helping them receive all the light and truth the gospel offers them,” Elder Ballard said.
Kim B. Clark, president of BYU-Idaho, also spoke to the graduates, urging them to live as disciples of Jesus Christ by standing fast, standing up, and standing together. “In the years ahead we will live in a world of increasing turmoil, growing temptation, and gathering wickedness,” President Clark said. “Some of what challenges us will be very subtle; some will be very direct and immediate. But no matter the challenge, the disciples of the Savior will be steadfast and immovable in their commitment to Him.”
After reviewing with them the principles of righteous living and faithful service in the Church, President Clark left the graduates with a challenge: “When you leave here today, please take the spirit of Ricks with you. Please take BYU-Idaho and what it means and what it stands for with you. I hope and pray that wherever you go, whatever you do, you will act in such a way that people around you will see in you the principles, the purposes, and the spirit of BYU-Idaho.”
A total of 1,411 BYU-Idaho students received diplomas at April commencement. Of those, 529 are males and 882 are females. The university awarded 1,238 bachelor’s degrees and 174 associate degrees. About half the graduates, 626, are married, and 609 served as missionaries for the Church.