It is with sweet admiration, that I find it remarkable that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (commonly referred to as Mormons) has such a successful Missionary Program, especially in this day and age. Young men and women, ages nineteen through twenty-five (retired couples can also serve missions) who are actively involved in the Mormon church volunteer up to two years of their lives to serve missions in various locations throughout the world for the sole purpose of helping to bring the blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ to those who have not learned of Him. They follow the teachings of the prophets of old, and the divine revelations given to the prophets in these latter-days to heed the commandment of Jesus Christ given shortly after His resurrection,
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost… (Matthew 28:19)
These faithful missionaries diligently press forward in preaching the gospel, and willingly serve countless numbers of people despite the adversities they face on a daily basis. I believe that through their experiences in adversity during their tenure, they are strengthened in their faith and testimonies of the doctrines of the Mormon church, and in their knowledge of the healing power of Jesus Christ. The myriad of lessons they learn during their mission time lasts for the rest of their lives and helps them to remember that they overcame the adversities they faced through their faith in Jesus Christ.
For about two years, these young missionaries deal with rejection and adversity frequently, often on a daily basis. They wake up each early morning hoping to find an audience of at least one person who will allow them to share their testimonies of Jesus Christ, and to seek out those in need of assistance. Their mission is to simply share the message of the gospel, and to learn to live by the example of His life. The message that these missionaries share with those who may not be aware of it, or who have not been able to learn about it due to their individual life’s circumstances is that Jesus Christ lives.
For there are many yet on the earth among all sects, parties, and denominations, who are blinded by the subtle craftiness of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive, and who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it-(D & C 123:12)
This simple daily goal of being able to meet with others and share the sweet message of the Lord, is often unfortunately, met with scorn, disapproval, and callousness. What a test of faith it must be! Not just of their faith in their purpose to serve, but faith in humanity. Thankfully, for those that are called to serve missions, they are not only given guidance and support throughout their missions, they are well-prepared beforehand and are made aware of some of the trials that they will potentially face. They go forth in their missions in pairs so as to fortify each other in the great purpose before them. They help each other to testify of their appreciation and blessings they receive in doing Heavenly Father’s work. But also, they are there for each other to help one another stay strong against the temptations of the world and to help the other endure any adversities they may face.
What I find most amazing about these upstanding young men and women is the dedication to their study of the gospel and their eagerness to share what they have learned with any person they come across, wherever they may be. They seem to be able to view every moment as a possible inspired opportunity to teach the gospel. In my opinion, they emanate a sense of holiness because of the strict and moral discipline they live by, and the blessings brought forth from their faith and intent to do good works. I can always feel the power of the Holy Spirit when I am around them. It helps to inspire me to develop more Christlike attributes in my own life, and to want to increase my study of the scriptures.
What wonderful role models they are for the world! Instead of taking this time in their lives to be self absorbed, or experiment with what can be destructive behaviors, or indecisively face their futures, they commit themselves to serving others for an extended length of time, and do nothing else but that. They learn to build a habit of integrity that is only learned through practice and refined with time.
Imagine, if you will, the great lessons and blessings that are to be had by spending a couple years of your early twenties simply dedicated to serving others, and focusing on the gospel of Jesus Christ.
NOW behold, a marvelous work is about to come forth among the children of men.
Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day.
Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work;
For behold the field is white already to harvest; and lo, he that thrusteth in his sickle with his might, the same layeth up in store that he perisheth not, but bringeth salvation to his soul;
And faith, hope, charity and love, with an eye single to the glory of God, qualify him for the work.
Remember faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, godliness, charity, humility, diligence.
Ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. Amen. (D & C:4)
It is no wonder then, that a majority of Mormons (at least those who I’ve met, which are many) who have served missions in their youth have an almost uncanny ability to see past and overcome their daily adversities with relative ease. They know who to turn to for comfort and hope in times of trial. They have seen and felt what it is like to be without the common worldly desires. They know and remember what is truly important …the urgency to live by the gospel, towards the goal of eternal salvation, and to return to Heavenly Father through faith in Jesus Christ.
Now again imagine how our society in these times would be if a majority of our youth would do as the missionaries would do by helping others, and helping to spread the message of the gospel? What great leaders and citizens would we have? What a tremendous difference it would make, don’t you think? How could living like a missionary change your life now, no matter what your age?
Do you have to serve the kind of mission that these young men and women do to receive the same blessings and learn some of the same skills? The good news is it is never too late for anyone. As Mormons, we are taught that, “Every member a missionary!” (President David O. McKay Conference Report, April 1959, p. 122) Does this mean we need to follow the same exact regimen as a Mormon Missionary? Of course not, but if we eagerly seek to rise above our own problems, increase our knowledge of the scriptures, and share our testimonies with those around us, we will be blessed as well. We are taught that it is our civic duty to help all others, inasmuch as we are able, to seek true happiness found in the gospel so that they can return to our Heavenly Father after our mortality. Literally, [from Old English, “good news” is] the gospel of Jesus Christ.