Friday, 4 October 2013

The Not-Really-Missionary

First of all, this is literally my favourite picture ever.

Second of all, something truly unfortunate is happening...

I've noticed an anomaly in digital missionary work.  It's a sad thing.  Now that I think about it, I guess it was inevitable; however, being in the middle of it makes it all the more hurtful.

So, let me explain what it is.

The digital missionaries are under scrutiny.  Persecution even.  And I'm not talking normal missionary persecution.  No, this is something different and even more dangerous, because it's coming from within our own ranks.  Since being called to the digital zone, I have begun to recognize a pattern, almost a commonality, in the remarks of members and other missionaries.  Phrases and comments along the lines of:

"oh, yeah, the missionaries who sit in the office all day"
"hello, invisible missionaries"
"so, how do you baptise someone online?"

Control+B  =  "Baptise Command" ; Flood room containing connected computer.

Each said in a light, frivolous manner, yet each bearing a hidden jab.  I'm disheartened with the amount of times I hear a variation of: "you know, back when I went on a mission, we had to do actual work."  If this continues, sooner or later, people are going to start poking us to see if we're holograms or not :)

I guess all of this sources back to a basic question: are digital missionaries somehow inferior to field missionaries?

I respond to this with a resounding and somewhat appalled NO.

As willing as I am to turn the other cheek, I will not do so without establishing the fact that this digital work is called of God.  These tools have been saved for our day and age, a generation gifted with the ability to use them for righteousness.  Yet, this call extends far beyond that.  An apostle of God has called everyone to take part in this work.  When faced with the question, “what will all these missionaries do?” Elder Perry answers:

"They will be doing the same things that missionaries have always done; they will follow our Savior, Jesus Christ, and preach His restored gospel."

"However, some of the ways in which we shared the message are vastly different from the way you will."

"The very nature of missionary work, therefore, must change if the Lord is to accomplish His work of gathering Israel “from the four corners of the earth” (2 Nephi 21:12)."

"As missionaries enter this new age where they will use computers in the work of the Lord, we invite the young and the old, the adults, the young adults, the youth, and the children everywhere to join with us in this exciting new work by becoming Facebook friends with the missionaries in your area on your own computers and sharing their gospel messages online and by becoming involved in missionary work yourselves."

"Just as missionaries must adapt to a changing world, members must also change the way they think about missionary work. In saying this, I wish to make it clear that what we, as members, are asked to do has not changed; but the way in which we fulfill our responsibility to share the gospel must adapt to a changing world."

"You know what, let's just make the whole world our area."

Please, join with us :)  It doesn't matter how old you are, how young you are, or how little you know about Facebook.  The apostles have shown us what needs to be done, and how it will be best approached.  Follow their council.  Love your digital missionaries, they will be some of the most effective, useful, and unique tools God has to offer you and your ward.  Yes, we are a different type of missionary.  Yes, we work in a different place.  But we all have the same goal: to invite others to come unto Christ.

Friday, 27 September 2013

Know Your Missionaries

Do you know your local missionaries?

"Oh yeah, Elder....uhm....Elder............Elder whatshisface,
you know, the sort of tall redheaded one?"

Ever had that moment where you don't remember a missionaries name, so you begin a conversation looking at their chest, searching for a tag?  ...awkward.  Don't worry too much, there's a simple solution to this problem: know your missionaries!

My hope is that if someone asked you right now "I'd like to see the missionaries", before you squeal and jump around, you would be able to give them names and numbers.  Maybe you would even have a Book of Mormon on you :)  If you currently cannot do either of those things, follow the counsel of a living Apostle:

 "Ask the missionaries, they can help you."  

Well, I think we all know what he's about to say :)

Seriously, we're out here to help you.  The members aren't a tool for missionaries, the missionaries are a tool for members.  We love the members!  They feed us, help us, smile at us, and even give us a place to live.  You're a family away from home.  We want to help you in any way we can, especially if we can fulfill our call at the same time: inviting others to come unto Christ.

Hopefully your local missionaries are reaching out to you.  But this cannot be the missionaries' responsibility alone.  Members, know your missionaries.  Have them around for dinner once and awhile.  Invite them to come paint your fence, or move that junk out of the attic.  Use their authority and power in teaching to strengthen your home and the homes of your friends.

I promise that if you ask a missionary companionship for their number, then tell them you want it so you can give it out, those missionaries will be scrambling to find something to scribble on.  Let your missionaries know that you know who they are, and then don't let them have an empty planner!

Aaah!  It's blank!  That means we have to knock doors!

Saturday, 21 September 2013

The Confidence Complex

"Have not I commanded thee?  Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest."

Missionary work is nerve wracking.  I'm often scared of it.

What a waster missionary, staying in his flat all day.

"Wait, a full time missionary?  Scared of missionary work?  The scoundrel!"

Yes, yes, I know.  Blasphemy.  Before you start throwing rotten fruit, let me explain myself for second.  In my defense, I call upon a parable which I just made up.  I've named it "the Simple Walk to Church."

So, you walk to church one day.  About a five minute walk.  It's only around the corner, really, and it's a nice day.  You pass by a few people, say hello to the neighbors and a few people you don't know.  You're in a good mood, the sky is blue, people are out, and you're going to church :)  A great start to what's destined to be a great day.

Sounds good, huh?  Well, that's the non-missionary part of the parable.  Here's what I see:

My companion and I take that same walk to church.  It's a nice day, and we both know what that means...this is going to be longer than a five minute walk.  We finish two hours of study and ready ourselves through prayer for the people the Lord is placing in our way.  We let no one pass by, and each person on the street, this side or the other, is someone who needs to hear about what we have.  

Some listen.  Many don't.  Some are outright rude, others do all they can to avoid us, and some seek our company specifically to argue with us.  

Every single person is a child of God in our eyes, with eternal importance and potential.  Every single person deserves more than a hello.  Every single person can benefit from the message we share.  We arrive at church sad, joyful, and worn out all at the same time.

There's an entirely different perspective from the eyes of a missionary.  It's a different world!  But so is being a "mormon" and you've already done that.  So why not share it?

Seems like a few more people now...

My point is this: we know this Earth to be a place of eternal significance.  We who are blessed with this great gospel must share it with everyone we can, here and now where it will benefit them most.  Yes, it is scary.  Yes, it will be outside of your comfort zone.  However, I promise that it will not kill you.  In fact, I will boldly make the promise that it will make you better in every way.  As you share what you know to be true, you will feel the Spirit, you will grow in knowledge and wisdom, and you will build and strengthen your own testimony.

So how can we overcome that fear?  How do we bypass that thing standing in our way of receiving the amazing benefits of missionary work?  Well, let's consider the following statement:

Fear is the opposite of faith.  When we fear, we do not have faith.

Put into practice, this is quite counterintuitive.  It means that the solution to that nervous feeling you have when bringing up religion is to bring up religion.  The solution to my fear of stopping everyone in my path is to stop and talk to everyone in my path.  The solution is acting in faith.  I have found that it is only then that the Spirit bears you up.  You must open your mouth before the Spirit can fill it with words.

Latter-day Saints, fear not.  Don't be dismayed.  The Lord is with you.  Wherever you go.

Have faith in Him who will wipe away your fears and replace them with confidence.

Courage is built through action, so go and share!

Friday, 13 September 2013

Work of Salvation

"Hath he commanded any that they should not partake of his salvation?  Behold I say unto you, Nay...and he hath commanded his people that they should persuade all men to repentance."

We are all a part of this marvelous work and a wonder.  This Work of Salvation.  The commandment to spread the gospel to the ends of the earth was given to all, not just to full time missionaries.

This is obviously important.  Everywhere we look the Church is doing something new and inspired to build the ranks of Zion.  Setting up websites, filming new videos, plastering walls with "I'm a Mormon" posters, calling thousands of new and young missionaries to the field, etc.  Something is going on that wasn't going on when I was a newly baptized member of the church 11 years ago.  This work is hastening.

Ah!  Too many Mormons!  They're everywhere!

Whenever I speak about this I am reminded of Zenos' allegory of the olive tree.  I'm not going to give you a rundown of this one, it's a little on the long side.  But if you recall, the Lord of the vineyard is doing all that He can to nourish His vineyard and prepare it for the harvest.  He goes through many seasons and uses many methods, but finally it comes to the last season.  Before He grafts, or prunes, or scatters, or gathers, the Lord of the Vineyard calls for more servants.
About every three months, olives begin to sicken me.
This seems to be in correlation with my reading of Jacob...

This is the last season, a prophet of God has called for more servants, and the final grafting, pruning, and gathering is happening now.  Yet, even with this massive force of new missionaries, the "servants are few" (Jacob 5:70).

...wait, the servants are few?  You're telling me that even with 100,000 full time missionaries in the field, and another 14.5 million members the servants are few?  Why yes, they are few.  And you know what...*puts on angry Elder Holland impersonation*'s even fewer because half those members aren't working with the missionaries!  We're on the same side here, people!  Every member a missionary.  Every.  There is literally a running joke in the mission field that every time a member doesn't refer their friend, we do a month's worth of knocking to find that same friend.  The same person!

So many doors...

The people that see you every day, who talk to you, who see how you live and what you stand for, are those whom the Lord has prepared.  We, the full time missionaries, have been called of God and given authority to teach those prepared people.  It only works when we work together.

So, will you be an example of Jesus Christ?
Will you tell your friends that notice why you act that way?
Will you bring them to the missionaries who can help them find that same happiness?

I promise that as you do, you will reap the rewards promised to those who take part in this incredible Work of Salvation.  You will store up treasures in heaven that are unimaginable on this Earth, and most importantly, you will become more Christ like as you strive to share what He taught :)

Friday, 6 September 2013

The Conversion Principle

Self Conversion and Missionary Work

"Simon...when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren."

When.  When thou art converted.  Jesus Christ was speaking about self conversion, and its role in missionary work.  It's a very interesting topic, this one is.  Christ's statement raises a question which I will try and address in my post today:

How does personal conversion relate to missionary work? 

Seeing as this is a blog written by a missionary, for fellow member missionaries, I would hope that there was a connection between these two things!  Elder Holland taught that "you must be your first convert."  How can we expect to share the gospel with our friends if we cannot testify of their truth?

How can we tell the "sweetest story that has been told since the resurrection of the Christ" if we don't know Joseph Smith was a prophet?  (LeGrand Richards, Quorum of the 12 Apostles, 1952-83)

During Christ's sermon on the mount, we are taught: "Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye" (Matthew 6:5).  As strange as it sounds, everyone you share the gospel with, everyone you teach, you are calling to repentance.  In other (less rebuking) words, you are giving them the opportunity to change and be blessed for it.  How can you share the incredible and beautiful message of the Atonement of Jesus Christ if you haven't experienced it yourself?

We are again counseled in Doctrine and Covenants 11:21 to "first seek to obtain my word, and then shall your tongue be loosed; then, if you desire, you shall have my Spirit and my word, yea, the power of God unto the convincing of men."  How can we teach from the Holy Scriptures if we haven't read and studied them?

Read ALL the books!

True self conversion is very much a prerequisite to successful missionary work.

It is essential, in fact.  You must be converted yourself.  You must have read the scriptures, and prayed about them.  You must have studied the prophet's teachings, and lived them.  You must have repented of your sins, and forsaken them.  It is these experiences that bring us a deep and personal knowledge of the goodness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  

You cannot, truthfully and with conviction, profess something to be good that you have not experienced yourself.

So, I hope that in your efforts to share Christ's Gospel with others, you are also assessing your own conversion to Christ.  You can only pull someone up to where you are standing.  So stand tall and in holy places! Just as someone representing Christ should :)


Quick shout out to Daniel of the Crawley Stake!  Thanks for reading my posts, you're an inspiration to members and missionaries alike.  No longer will the tent-dwelling scriptures of the Book of Mormon be misinterpreted!  You're a true member missionary, Daniel; exemplary in the eyes of God, I'm sure.