When I was in high school, I made a good friend whose name was also Jennifer. She went by Jen and I went by Jenny. Jen had a bit of a rough family life. She spent a fair amount of time at my house and became interested in the church. She ended up attending early morning seminary and would go to church and activities with me. She took the missionary lessons at my house and she got baptized. She was really happy and I believe she really did come to have a testimony. But then her family moved to Las Vegas. I tried to keep in touch with her...but this was before cell phones or social media. Most people didn't have email. So that basically meant that for high school/college age kids, you wrote letters. And we were busy. So we did write, but not often. Her family had no interest in the church and so it was hard to get to church living in Vegas. And then she met a guy and started dating. She married right out of high school, and years later I would learn that he was abusive to her. We are friends on Facebook now and it is clear that she is not religious at all. (I wish this story had a happier ending!)
Jen has had a hard life. She is divorced. She has health problems. She has experienced a lot of really difficult circumstances. I don't have all the answers, but as I have thought and wondered about whether sharing the gospel was the right thing and why did I feel like I should share with her if it wasn't going to be a permanent change or if it wouldn't help prevent some of the hard things she has faced...here are the things I feel like I have learned.
1. We are successful in our missionary efforts when we open our mouths and share our beliefs, regardless of whether the person chooses to accept the gospel or not, regardless of whether they make a permanent change or not.
2. Jen has told me (over social media) that I was a positive influence and a bright spot in her life in high school. I helped make high school a positive place and a happy time in her life. That alone is enough to make it worth it. She said she always felt welcome and included in our home.
3. Who knows? Maybe that planted seeds that will grow sometime in the future...maybe not even in this life.
4. If nothing else, I loved her and genuine love matters.