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Genuine Gold: Jonathan Reed shares his experiences as a former student and current bishop

Jonathan Reed with Dee de Moors in Jerusalem.

Being a bishop at BYU–Hawaii comes with its own unique set of challenges and blessings, said Jonathan Reed, bishop of the Laie YSA 14th Ward and a BYUH alumnus. Reed grew up in Hawaii and graduated from Kahuku High School before attending BYUH. His best memories come from his time as a student and as a bishop at BYUH, he shared.

Where are you from?

“I’m from here. I grew up here in Hawaii, graduated from Kahuku and I graduated from BYU–Hawaii. My great grandparents migrated from Samoa to help build the temple. That’s how my family ended up here.”

What blessings have you seen from attending BYU–Hawaii?

“I think coming to BYU–Hawaii is one of the greatest blessings. I always felt it was an honor and a privilege, and I was grateful to be here. You know, working at the Polynesian Cultural Center as a canoe guide was great and one of the happiest times of my life.

“My dad was a police officer for the Honolulu Police Department. He said the same thing when he was going to the Church College of Hawaii. It was one of the happiest times. It’s the spirit here. It’s wonderful.”

What advice would you give to graduating students at BYU–Hawaii?

“Take all the knowledge and spiritual knowledge with you from BYU–Hawaii. It will strengthen you to overcome the world because it’s not always going to be how it is right now. It’s some of the happiest times of your life, but it’s not always going to be this way. Take your testimony and spread it. Spread your testimony of the gospel as best as you can.”

How did attending BYU–Hawaii help build your testimony?

“I had a testimony, but I think it strengthened [my] testimony just by the people and the professors who taught us classes. And the students, just having the same spiritual goals was a great experience. You know, just being out in the world but staying together and having the same spiritual goals.”

What’s your favorite part about being a bishop?

“My favorite part is spending time and interacting with the ward members. Like I said, our ward is wonderful, and the best part is just seeing them improving .... When they make mistakes, just seeing them using the Atonement to make the corrections in their lives and [gain] appreciation for the Atonement.”

What makes being a bishop at BYU–Hawaii unique?

“I think the youth have complicated issues compared to a regular ward. I just think it’s a blessing to work with them. The kids are wonderful. I tell them all the time if their parents could see them in action, they’d be so proud because their parents don’t get to see them magnifying their callings and sharing their testimonies. They just see them when they’re on vacation. But I always tell them if their parents could see how wonderful they are, that would be so neat.”

How are the challenges students face now different than the ones you dealt with?

“I think, you know, growing up [compared to] the way the bishop deals with things now, it’s more Christlike. A lot of times people grow up being afraid of the bishop, and there are still some students who are still in that mode where they’re afraid to see the bishop. But what I say to them is, ‘I’m here to help you get to where you want to be.’ I’m not here to scold you or anything like that. I just want you to follow the Plan of Salvation and get to where you’re supposed to be.

“When I grew up as a little kid in the Church, it was always, ‘Oh, you’ve got to see the bishop,’ and everybody’s afraid to see the bishop. I never wanted that, for my ward, to be afraid to come and see me.”