When Jesus Christ was on the earth, He commissioned His apostles and others to preach His gospel, sharing the “good news” of salvation with the world. Mormons (members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), feeling a deep conviction that theirs is truly the restored Church of Christ in modern times, strive to maintain that same commission by continuing in missionary efforts.
Mormon missionaries serve all over the world in search of the “pure in heart,” the “elect,” the “honest seekers of truth”-in other words, those who have been prepared by the Holy Ghost’s influence to desire self-betterment. Such people recognize that they lack understanding in their spiritual lives, and they also lack the knowledge of where to find the needed insight. Perhaps they are members of a church that has taught them some good, yet there seems to still be so much unanswered. Mormon missionaries can help such individuals and families because they represent a Church that teaches the fulness of Christ’s gospel, rather than portions of truth, tainted by centuries of philosophical thought and myriad biblical translation errors.
The majority of young Mormons who depart on missions do so because they have experienced a great degree of joy in keeping the commandments and principles which God has established for the progression of all His children. These youth have maintained clean and virtuous lives, free from immorality, drugs, dishonesty, and all the other vices that have such an impact on their worldly peers. Besides abstaining from that which is physically and spiritually harmful, Mormon missionaries have developed good habits of faith, earnest and frequent prayer, scripture study, paying tithing and fast offerings, Sabbath observance, visiting holy temples, and doing acts of kindness and service for their families and others. In all, they have striven to gain and maintain an intimate relationship with the Holy Ghost, who has helped them in the face of trials and temptations and who has borne strong witness to them of the divine and central role of Jesus Christ in God’s plan of happiness. They have gained a powerful testimony of Mormonism as the modern vehical of Christ’s gospel.
Worthy Mormon men receive the priesthood of God, and among the associated responsibilities is the duty to serve a full-time mission, generally starting at the age of 19. Many Mormon women, too, desire to go on missions, but they are required to wait until they are 21 years old, and the duration of their missions is a little shorter: 18 months versus the men’s two years. Mormon retirees are encouraged to serve missions as well. It should be noted that Mormon missionaries are not paid for their labors; in fact, they pay their own way, either by having saved up money in advance or by relying on their loving and willing parents.
Missionaries begin their term by first entering a missionary training center (MTC), such as the one in Provo, Utah, learning how to better teach people by the Holy Ghost and address concerns they might have. Those missionaries who will be serving in a foreign-speaking land are instructed in the basics of the target language—there are over 50 languages taught in Provo—and they continue to refine their language skills while serving in their respective geographical areas.
Mormons believe that a missionary’s place of service is assigned by divine inspiration. This happens after the prospective missionary has submitted the appropriate application papers to the Mormon Church. Specially commissioned officials in the Church have the task of reviewing applications and prayerfully seeking the will of the Lord in the question of where each missionary should be sent. Within a few weeks, a response to a prospective missionary’s application comes in a large, white envelope. The entire family receives its arrival with great excitement. Parents and siblings-or children and grandchildren-intently listen as the missionary call is read aloud. Finally, the long-anticipated destination is revealed. Mother exclaims, “Bulgaria! Where’s Bulgaria?”
The newly-called missionary may never have heard of the destination country, or may be totally unfamiliar with the history, geographical location, and culture of the area, but that all changes during missionary service. Missionaries become steeped in the culture of their service areas. When they learn a language, they learn it within its cultural context, so they become fluent in ways impossible with classroom learning. They develop a deep love for the people and culture they serve, especially because missionaries are involved with community service weekly and humanitarian aid on special assignment.
Missionaries do reap some benefits from their service. First is their spiritual development and an increase in maturity. Sending young adults out to find converts is a slow and cumbersome way to harvest souls for Christ, but leaders in the kingdom result from the service offered. Many world businesses are aware of the character-developing aspects of missionary service, and they purposefully seek out returned LDS missionaries for employment. Second is learning both to lead and to follow well. Returned missionaries can be supportive and humble, and then step into leadership instantly. Third is social development. Missionaries are required to step forward and meet new people all the time. They overcome fear and shyness (even when faced with repeated rejection). They also learn to speak in public, teach lessons, and bare their souls to strangers. Fourth, a great deal of sacrifice is necessary to serve a mission. Giving up school, hobbies, girlfriends (or boyfriends), family togetherness, sports, and quite a bit of money in order to serve is humbling, and a real character building experience.
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Mormon Missionary – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia