Spencer W. Kimball Northern States Mission
Those faithful elders who have testified of this work to thousands of people on the continents and islands of the seas will see the fruits of their labors, whether they have said five words or thousands. They may not see these fruits immediately, and perhaps, in many cases, not until the millennium, but the savor of their testimony will pass down from father to son. (Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. John A. Widtsoe, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1941, p. 329).
We send missionaries among the children of men. . . . There are things about a mission which are not altogether agreeable to our young Elders. They realize that they have to sacrifice the pleasures of home, and they understand that they are going among people who will not always feel that they have the seeds of life in their possession, and that if they can find an honest man or woman, the Spirit of the Lord will operate upon their hearts and they will perchance receive this glorious message which have to deliver. This affords them pleasure and satisfaction. (Lorenzo Snow, Conference Report, April 1901, pp. 2-3).
An example of stepping up to serve is found in the life of our prophet, President Ezra Taft Benson, and the family of which he is a member. President Benson has described to the General Authorities how his father was called to fill a mission. He left behind his wife, who was expecting another child, his seven children, his farm, and all that he had. Did he lose anything? President Benson tells how his mother would gather the family around the kitchen table and there, by the flickering light of an oil-fueled lamp, read the letters from her husband. Several times during the reading there would be a pause to wipe away the tears that flowed freely. The result? Each of the children later served a mission. Each stepped up to serve. (Thomas S. Monson, Live the Good Life, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1988, p. 127).
We are laboring, striving, and struggling for the deliverance of the honest in heart throughout the world; we are laboring for the establishment and continuance of holy principles.
There are men on this stand whose testimony you have heard; and those very men would suffer themselves to be cut in pieces, inch by inch, before they would suffer those principles to be trampled upon. It is our business to make people happy--to put them in possession of eternal life, so that sorrowing and crying may cease from the earth. (Lorenzo Snow, Journal of Discourses, London: Latter-day Saint Depot, 1855-1886, 5:324).
In all my labors I got nearer to the Lord, and accomplished more, and had more joy while in the mission field than ever before or since. Man is that he may have joy, and the joy that I had in the mission field was superior to any I have ever experienced elsewhere. Get it into your hearts, young people, to prepare yourselves to go out into the world where you can get on your knees and draw nearer to the Lord than in any other labor. (Heber J. Grant, "The President Speaks: Excerpts from the Utterances of Heber J. Grant," Improvement Era, [November 1936]: 659).
We are deeply grateful to the numerous missionaries who have proselyted since the beginning of time. For some six thousand years, they have been proselyting. The missionaries today, with their contemporaries, have proselyted nearly one-half million missionary years collectively. In one-half million years of teaching, much has happened. Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden. Cain took the life of his brother, Abel. Noah carried his family through the flood. Civilization moved from the Mississippi River to Mount Ararat. Abraham taught the Egyptians astronomy. Moses led the children of Israel across the Red Sea. Lehi led his people to the Promised Land. Columbus discovered America. The American Revolutionary War brought freedom to this land. Joseph Smith, the Prophet, was instrumental in restoring the gospel. (Spencer W. Kimball, Regional Representatives’ Seminar, 31 March 1978).
Of all of life's memorable experiences, there are few to compare with the soul-stirring feeling we have as we hear a missionary express his joy and love for the Lord as he tells of bringing someone to the waters of baptism. (David B. Haight, CR O'77, Ensign, [November 1977]: 56).
We are being recognized for the tremendous virtues of our programs and the vast good which they do.
A California newspaper recently commented: “The white shirts, backpacks and bicycles give them away, even before you spot the Book of Mormon.
“They’re stereotyped, for good reason.
“These armies of young men—missionaries in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—are strictly regimented while serving missions around the globe.
“For two years, they spend 60 hours a week doing ecclesiastical work, praying, studying, and telling others about the Gospel that drove them to leave families, friends and the comfort of home behind.
“Contact with their loved ones is limited to letters and two calls a year.
“They live frugally, in private homes and apartments with companion missionaries, rising at 6 a.m. to study and pray for guidance in the work they will do until long after the sun sets. . . .
“This life, they say, is a sacrifice—and the most ‘fun’ they can imagine” (Priscilla Nordyke Roden, “Answering the Call,” San Bernardino County Sun, 26 Aug. 2003, p. B1).
That might have been written of our missionaries in the more than 120 nations in which they are found serving.
What a miracle it is that we should have some 60,000 of them, most of them young, giving of their time and their testimonies to the world. (Gordon B. Hinckley, “The State of the Church,” Ensign, [November 2003]: 4).
I heard President Grant say in Europe, when he was president of the European Mission, that notwithstanding the years he had served as an apostle in the Church, the greatest joy he had ever had in his ministry was in the mission field. And after we had met in a Priesthood meeting at Rotterdam for a whole day, because he brought a hundred missionaries with him out of England, and each one had an opportunity to speak, and there had not been a dry eye there, he turned to us missionaries and said, "Now, brethren, today we have feasted on the fat things of the Spirit of the Lord. Now go out," he said, "and give it away, give it to the people--the more you give away, the more you will have left." Is it not wonderful? I have been in missionary meetings where I felt like I was lifted up into another world, and that should I open my eyes I could see the angels of heaven there. That, to me, is an evidence of how the Lord values this work. (LeGrand Richards, Conference Report, October 1953, p. 79).
Hundreds of those who came to the [Guatemala City Temple] dedicatory services lived in the mountains and jungles of Guatemala and other areas of Central America. They came because their lives have been touched by faithful missionaries who have walked from humble home to humble home and told these people of their forebears and read to them from their own forgotten testament of Christ. They have been touched by the power of the Holy Spirit. The scales of darkness have slowly but surely fallen from their eyes. Now, among their numbers are strong men who serve as stake and mission Presidents, as bishops of wards, and as patriarchs to their people. There are likewise among them strong and beautiful women who preside over Relief Societies. Young Women organizations, and Primaries and who teach with conviction in the organizations of the Church. In each of these people there beats a heart vibrant with love for the Lord and a testimony that is moving in its expression. It is a latter-day miracle, a wonderful thing to behold. How did it happen? How did it all come to be?
One need look no further than to the many missionaries who have labored in that part of the world, who in obedience to the Lord accepted a call from his prophet to serve a mission. It was said by Peter long ago that Jesus went about doing good. As his ambassadors, missionaries in our generation have gone and continue to go throughout the world doing good in the true spirit of the Master. Let me describe one of them.
He is typical of so many others who desire with all their hearts to serve the Lord. He came from California and grew up in an ordinary sort of way, not a member of the Church. He became acquainted with a girl who was a member of the Church. He was so impressed with her that, on learning she was a member of the Church, he wished to know more. He was embraced by LDS students at Berkeley who taught him the gospel while he was going forward with his arduous scholastic program. He was baptized.
Then, working nights and summers, he saved money enough to sustain him, if he spent it with care, for a period of eighteen months as a missionary. He was called to Guatemala. He was a handsome young man with a brilliant mind and a wonderful education in a highly technical field. I met him in the Guatemala City Temple. He grasped my hand warmly. I asked, "Are you happy?"
"Oh yes, so very happy," he responded. I asked where he was laboring. He said, "Out among the Lamanites, the native people of Guatemala. It is a very small place where there is much hardship, poverty, and ignorance. The mud is deep, but the people are wonderful, and I love them."
As I thought of that tall and handsome young man, gifted and educated, working among the Indians of Guatemala in a jungle village, the words of Samuel the Lamanite have come to mind:
"Yea, I say unto you, that in the latter times the promises of the Lord have been extended to our brethren, the Lamanites; and notwithstanding the many afflictions which they shall have, and notwithstanding they shall be driven to and fro upon the face of the earth, and be hunted, and shall be smitten and scattered abroad, having no place for refuge, the Lord shall be merciful unto them.
"And this is according to the prophecy that they shall again be brought to the true knowledge, which is the knowledge of their Redeemer, and their great and true shepherd, and be numbered among his sheep." (Helaman 15:12-13).
This young missionary, with his associates, was bringing to those among whom he walked "the true knowledge, which is the knowledge of their Redeemer, and their great and true shepherd, "that they might be numbered among his sheep.
This particular young man received no letters from his parents, no money, no encouragement. He had sufficient funds of his own saving to carry him through eighteen months. Because his mission was ending when we were lengthening missions from eighteen months to twenty1four, he had the option of remaining the additional six months. He asked his mission president with emotion, "Is there some way I can get help to stay another six months to work among these people I have come to love so much?" The needed someone was found, and the missionary was able to serve a full twenty-four months.
There are others like him, thousands today working in many lands, who, in the spirit of the Lord, are going about doing great good. (Gordon B. Hinckley, "Giving Ourselves to the Lord," Ensign, [March 1987]: 2, 4).
However great the joy and the satisfaction which come into the souls of those who are converted, and into the souls of those who are brought into Church activity, these are not greater than is the joy that fills the hearts of the missionaries themselves, for, as the good book, the Bible, says, they have burning within themselves that "peace of God which passeth all understanding" (Philippians 4:7). (Richard R. Lyman, Conference Report, October 1943, p. 24).
One of the most rewarding ways in which we can serve our fellowmen is by living and sharing the principles of the gospel. We need to help those whom we seek to serve to know for themselves that God not only loves them but he is ever mindful of them and their needs. To teach our neighbors of the divinity of the gospel is a command reiterated by the Lord: ”It becometh very man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor" (D&C 88:81).
Not all of us can engage in full-time missionary work, where one might have opportunity to explain the gospel and bear testimony of its divinity many times a day. But what every member most definitely can do is follow President David O. McKay's inspired slogan, "Every member a missionary." He can befriend and fellowship nonmember neighbors, fellow employees, friends and acquaintances, and those with whom he is engaged in community service. By his interest and association, he should strive to bring those nonmembers to the point where they will willingly receive the stake or full-time missionaries. What every member ought to do, by good example and by bearing testimony, is to portray to nonmembers the joys of gospel living and understanding and thus help to bring them to the stage where they will accept more formal teaching.
The proper motivation for missionary work of any kind, as for all Church service, is of course love for fellowmen; but always such work has its by-product effect of one's own life. Thus, as we become instruments in God's hands in changing the lives of others, our own lives cannot help being lifted. One can hardly help another to the top of the hill without climbing there himself. (Spencer W. Kimball, "President Kimball Speaks Out on Service to Others," New Era, [March 1981]: 42-43).
God bless the men and women of Zion that they may continue to give themselves and their means freely to this cause and participate in the supreme joy that comes from bringing souls unto Christ, and lay a foundation for eternal dividends of joy and happiness in association throughout eternities that are to come with those to whom we have been the instruments in bringing the light of knowledge and truth. (Melvin J. Ballard, "One Hundred Years of Missionary Work," Improvement Era, [May 1930]: 486).
These missionaries are a miracle—these young men and young women. What happens to them when the gospel really comes into their lives, when they lose themselves in the service of others? Something begins to shine through that is bright and beautiful and wonderful and tremendous. Let’s give every boy the opportunity of a mission whom we possibly can, who is worthy to go and whose health is such that he can go. Let’s not make those who can’t go because of health reasons feel inferior, or that they have no place in this kingdom, but let us see, if we possibly can, that all those who are able to go have the great and marvelous opportunity. . . .
There is nothing that builds solid faith for the present and the future like serving a mission. How grateful I am for the mission which I was on more than sixty years ago. I think I was a fairly faithful young man in this Church, but going on a mission did something for me. I don’t know how to define it, but it did something that has value every day of my life. I would like to see every boy have the opportunity of a mission. (Gordon B. Hinckley, Brigham City, Utah Regional Conference Priesthood Session, 22 February 1997).
I feel sorry for the man or the woman who has never experienced the sweet joy which comes to the missionary who proclaims the gospel of Jesus Christ, who brings honest souls to a knowledge of the truth, and who hears the expressions of gratitude and thanksgiving that come from the hearts of those who have been brought by his labor to a comprehension of life eternal. So also do I feel sorry for those who have never experienced the sweet joy resulting from reaching out their hands and helping those who were needy. Assuredly there is more blessing comes to us from giving than in accumulating; there is no question of this in my mind. There is also more blessing comes to us in going forth to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, and laboring for the salvation of the souls of men, than cam possibly come to us by merely having a knowledge of the truth of our religion, and then remaining at home to mingle and labor in the ordinary affairs of life, and accumulate the wealth of this world that perishes with the using. One great trouble is that we ofttimes lose sight of what is the most valuable labor for us to perform, the labor that will be most pleasing in the sight of our Heavenly Father. (Heber J. Grant, Gospel Standards, comp. G. Homer Durham, Salt Lake City: Improvement Era, 1969, p. 104).
When you find the joy and happiness that come to people through accepting the gospel, it makes you feel as if we should put forth every effort in our power to share our message with all of our Father's children. (LeGrand Richards, Conference Report, April 1959, p. 18).
The Apostle John remarked in his day, "We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren." This love begotten in the hearts of the missionary elders of our Church for the peoples of the earth, comparative strangers to them, and in the hearts of the people for the elders who bear to them the gospel message, is in itself testimony sufficient to convince the honest heart that its source is divine, and that God is with us. This sacred and holy feeling, awakened within us by the Holy Ghost, has already distinguished us as a community from the rest of the human family; and this is the feeling that will yet revolutionize the whole world, and convince unbelieving man that God is not only the Father of us all, but that we are His friends and servants. I have joy even now in contemplating the days of my missionary labors. The feelings produced by these peculiar experiences have become part and parcel of my being; and from the nature of things they must necessarily not only continue to remain so, but to expand and reach out until they shall find satisfaction in nothing short of the redemption and salvation of our Father's house. (Lorenzo Snow, Millennial Star 58 [12 September 1901]: 595).
Yes, a missionary discovers the indescribable joy of bringing other souls into the Church. I have just recently had three grandchildren return from the mission field; two more are on the way to the field. I believe in missionary work with all my heart. It's good for any young man to have the experience of a mission. (Ezra Taft Benson, "Our Commission to Take the Gospel to the World," Ensign, [May 1984]: 43-44).
At best, missionary work necessitates drastic adjustment to one's pattern of living. No other labor requires longer hours or greater devotion, not such sacrifice and fervent prayer. As a result, dedicated missionary service returns a dividend of eternal joy that extends throughout life and into eternity. (Thomas S. Monson, Pathways of Perfection, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1979, p. 97).
Powerful spiritual effects follow missionary service. (John A. Widtsoe, Program of the Church, Salt Lake City: Deseret News, Press, 1937, p. 71).
The Mormon missionary has spread the knowledge of the restored gospel over the earth. His efforts have brought hundreds of thousands into the Church of Christ. He must be remembered with grateful appreciation whenever the glorious progress of the Latter-day Saints is celebrated. He has earned his mead of praise. (John A. Widtsoe, Man and the Dragon, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1945, p. 179).
There is no joy that comes to the human heart, so far as my experience in life goes, that equals that which we feel when we are engaged in the work of the Lord, at home or abroad. I believe, as a rule, when we are away from home, and relieved of the cares generally associated with the ordinary affairs of life, which engross most of our attention, we then draw nearer to the Lord, and receive more abundantly of the manifestations of His Holy Spirit, than we do while at home. (Heber J. Grant, Conference Report, April 1903, p. 6).
Let the Saints remember that great things depend on their individual exertion, and that they are called to be co-workers with us and the Holy Spirit in accomplishing the great work of the last days. (Joseph Smith, Jr., Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1938, pp. 178-179).
Sharing the gospel brings peace and joy into our own lives, enlarges our own hearts and souls in behalf of others, increases our own faith, strengthens our own relationship with the Lord, and increases our own understanding of the gospel truths. Perhaps almost more comes to us than to those to whom we introduce the gospel. (Spencer W. Kimball, "Are We Doing All We Can?" Ensign, [February 1983]: 4).
We care because the Lord, who knows the source of all happiness, has asked us to do it and has assured us blessings and happiness and joy if we do it. We care because when we share the gospel with others, we unavoidably get outside of ourselves: we think and pray and work for the blessings of others, and this only further enriches and quickens us by the Holy Spirit. The list of byproducts to ourselves is endless--growth in our testimonies, growth in our knowledge of the gospel, growth in our faith, more answered prayers. The eternal truth is: that which we willingly share, we keep; and that which we selfishly keep to ourselves, we lose. We care because we want all of our members everywhere to be happy. Is there any better reason? ("Status Report on Missionary Work: A Conversation with Thomas S. Monson," Ensign, [October 1977]: 11).
There is also more blessing comes to us in going forth to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, and laboring for the salvation of the souls of men, than can possibly come to us by merely having a knowledge of the truth in our religion, and then remain home mingle and labor in the ordinary affairs of life. (Heber J. Grant, Conference Report, October 1907, p. 24).
God be with each and every one of you who have any part or parcel in carrying on this divine assignment. May he give to you the measure of his Spirit which will enable you to carry forward your great work, that from that presence of the Spirit of the Lord will come to you the fullest measure of wisdom, knowledge and revelation that may be needful to you to enable you to work out his will among the children of the earth. (J. Reuben Clark, Church News, [1 July 1961]).
From our hearts we praise and bless them for the faithful service rendered, and pray that the protecting hand of the Almighty God may be over them, both men and women, those who have served those who are now in the field, and those who may follow after. (The First Presidency: Heber J. Grant, Anthony W. Ivins, J. Reuben Clark, Jr., Improvement Era, 36:516).
I will prophesy that the power of the Lord God of Israel will be with you to a far greater extent than it has been poured out in days that are passed; and the way will open before you, and the Lord will visit the hearts of the people before you arrive among them, and make manifest to them by visions and dreams that you are the servants of God, before they shall see your faces. And you will receive heavenly visions to comfort you, and dreams to give you knowledge of the things of God, if you prove faithful before him. I will prophesy this in the name of the God of Israel; and you will find that his power will be more conspicuously made manifest through your administrations on these missions than has ever taken place since the rise of this Church. (Orson Pratt, Masterful Discourses and Writings of Orson Pratt, comp. by Nels B. Lundwall, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1981, p. 35).
I am positive that the blessings of the Lord will attend every country which opens its gates to the gospel of Christ, their blessings will flow in education and culture, and faith, and love, like Enoch's city of Zion, which was translated, and also will become like the two hundred years of peaceful habitation in this country in the Nephite days. There will come prosperity to the nations, comfort and luxuries to the people, joy and peace to all recipients, and eternal life to those who accept and magnify it. (Spencer W. Kimball, Regional Representatives’ Seminar, 4 April 1974).
I have a seventeen-year-old son now, and our hopes and prayers are that he will be a missionary as his older brother was. I would tell him of the Lord's call, His knowledge of how we grow, and of the Lord's need for his labors. But I would also want him to see his missionary service as part of a repayment and thanksgiving to the missionaries who brought his forebears--and thus himself--into the Church. That is a debt that must be repaid--and of course, each of us can do it throughout our lives in member-missionary activities. ("Status Report on Missionary Work: A Conversation with Thomas S. Monson," Ensign, [October 1977]: 11).
These thousands of young men and women who have so witnessed know the reason for this happiness. They had been crusading for a cause that was as dear to them as life itself, and there was the joy of challenge in the day to day combat with sin and error. They had lived in faith with little concern for mercenary things, knowing that an over-ruling Providence would care for their every need. They had known the fundamental beauty of friendship from the splendid companions with whom they had lived and worked and prayed. ("The Counsel of Authority," The Missionary's Handbook, Independence, Missouri: Zion's Printing and Publishing Co., 1937, p. 15).
Is it not a miracle in itself that in this day of doubt and disbelief young men, thousands of them, with lives to live and careers to build, spend two years in the service of the Lord, laboring constantly and even willing to fast and pray in behalf of those to whom they seek to teach a better life? I know of no experience more refreshing than to be with them and feel of their spirit. If any of you who are listening this day should have two of them come to your door, I hope that you will welcome them and hear them. They will restore your faith in youth. They will quicken your faith in the Lord. They will lead you to a joy you have never previously known. (Gordon B. Hinckley, Conference Report, October 1969, pp. 114-115).
Missionary work provides us the happiest years of our lives. I know whereof I speak. I have tasted the joy of missionary work. There is no work in all the world that can bring an individual greater joy and happiness. Like Ammon of old, our joy can be full because of seeing others come into the kingdom of God. (Ezra Taft Benson, Come Unto Christ, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1983, p. 98).
The Lord gives the joy to anyone who wants it, to anyone who will do the things to obtain it. Concerning this work, I'm a confirmed optimist. It is not difficult for me to become enthused over something that has great interest for me--and the gospel and the Church have great interest for me. The gospel is true. Some time ago a man came into my office and said that his contact with the Church came many years earlier when some of us young Latter-day Saint men had introduced him to the Church at a naval training base in San Diego. it made me feel humbly grateful that as eighteen-year-old, my Latter-day Saint companions and I followed the verse:
Dare to be a Mormon;
Dare to stand alone;
Dare to have a purpose firm;
Dare to make it known
Since those years, I have relearned many times that our missionary experiences have to be current. It is not enough to sit back and ponder former experiences. To be fulfilled, you have to continue to naturally and normally share the gospel. This holds true for General Authorities as well. I always enjoy hearing from the Brethren who on their weekend assignments give the gospel message to someone sitting next to them on the plane. I must also say that I love and rejoice in the opportunity to associate with my brethren in this work--to work under President Spencer W. Kimball in this critical period in history on this special call from the Lord is a great trust that humbles me; to receive guidance from President Ezra Taft Benson, that great and gifted and inspired leader of my priesthood quorum, to be associated with brethren of the Missionary Executive committee and the Missionary Department like Elders Bruce R. McConkie, David B. Haight, Franklin D. Richards, Carlos W. Asay, Rex D. Pinegar--this is all a source of profound joy and a great blessing in my life. I love my associates--and I believe that all members everywhere have or can have this same kind of love and respect for those with whom they are associated when we're united and when we earnestly seek the help of our Heavenly Father in accomplishing His work. ("Status Report on Missionary Work: A Conversation with Thomas S. Monson," Ensign, [October 1977]: 14).
Missionaries are shepherds to the flock, and only in forgetting themselves and looking after the interests of others will they grow in enthusiasm for the work. There is no field of labor in the world where the joy that comes of giving is so rich as in missionary service. ("Meeting the Public," The Missionary's Handbook, Independence, Missouri: Zion's Printing and Publishing Co., 1937, p. 57).
With such noble work one should not find it too difficult to develop enthusiasm. Enthusiasm is real interest plus dedicated energy, and this combination provides the most dynamic of all human qualities. But anyone who does not have it naturally can cultivate it by applying auto suggestion. Merely deciding that a job is going to be interesting helps make it so. (Spencer W. Kimball, “Integrity in Insurance, Beneficial Live Convention, Mexico City, 9 July 1970 quoted in A Prophet’s Voice: Inspiring Quotes from Spencer W. Kimball, American Fork, UT.: Covenant, 2007, p. 100).
Indeed we have proved, in our missionary experiences in this Church, that it is more blessed to give than to receive: for if we have given to the world--our time and service--that has been a blessing to mankind, and it has returned with added blessings upon our heads. We have been enriched as communities by the breadth and depth of understanding, and have become cosmopolitan in our conception of things because of the varied experiences that these returning missionaries bring from all lands; for, the best of all lands is brought back to us. In addition to that, we are discharging the great obligation that God has placed upon us, to bring to his sons and daughters the light and the knowledge of eternal truth, preparing them to come back into his presence and to rejoice in the restoration of the everlasting gospel. (Melvin J. Ballard, Conference Report, October 1925, p. 126).
The missionaries who spend the least money and accept the hospitality of the people, accomplish the most work, develop the greatest faith and obtain the greatest results. (Sylvester Q. Cannon, Conference Report, October 1938, p. 96).
Again, why should we fear? Sharing the gospel brings peach and joy into our own lives, enlarges our own hearts and souls in behalf of others, increases our own faith, strengthens our own relationship with the Lord, and increases our own understanding of gospel truths. Perhaps almost more comes to us than to those to whom we introduce the gospel. (Spencer W. Kimball, "Are We Doing All We Can?" Ensign, [February 1983]: 4).
It is not an easy task; it is not a pleasant thing, perhaps, to be called out into the world, to leave our dear ones, but I say to you it will purchase for those who are faithful, for those who discharge that obligation as they may be required, peace and happiness beyond all understanding, and will prepare them that, in due time, when life's labor is complete, they will stand in the presence of their Maker, accepted of him because of what they have done. (George Albert Smith, Conference Report, April 1922, p. 53).
These ambassadors of the Lord Jesus Christ, as they firmly believe themselves to be, have trudged through mud and snow, swum rivers, and gone without the common necessities of food, shelter and clothing in response to a call. Voluntarily fathers and sons have left homes, families, and jobs to go to all parts of the world, enduring great physical hardship and unrelenting persecution. Families have been left behind, often in dire straits, willingly laboring the harder to provide means for "their missionary." And through it all there has been a joy and satisfaction which has caused families at home to express gratitude for special blessings received and missionaries refer to this period as "the happiest time of my life." (Ezra Taft Benson, "Missionary Work: A Major Responsibility," Ensign, [May 1974]: 105).
The principles of the gospel . . . should be presented to men in humility, in the simplest forms of speech, without presumption or arrogance and in the spirit of he mission of Christ. . . By earnestness and simplicity missionaries will establish themselves in the truth, [and their] testimonies will convince others. . . . They will touch the hearts of the people and will have the pleasure of seeing them come to an understanding of their message. The spirit of the gospel will shine forth from their souls and others will partake of their light and rejoice therein. (Joseph F. Smith, Conference Report, April 1899, p. 40).
"Those were the happiest years of my life." Who has not heard this testimony from the lips of young men and women who have represented the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in all the world? In view of such a universal testimony, is no the new missionary to be envied for the opportunity that is his? ("The Counsel of Authority," The Missionary's Handbook, Independence, Missouri: Zion's Printing and Publishing Co., 1937, p. 15).
There was no joy that the Latter-day Saints had ever felt equal to that experienced by those who, while abroad, proclaimed the principles of the gospel. The bringing of souls to a knowledge of the truth, laboring for the up building of God's kingdom, was the greatest work that we as Latter-day Saints could be encouraged in. If the Elders of Israel were as ready and willing to respond in all matters as they were to go forth and preach the gospel to mankind, no power on earth or in hell could retard the onward progress of this work. (Heber J. Grant, "General Conference," Deseret Weekly, [Saturday, 11 April 1891]: 503).
Each Elder who goes on a mission testifies of the great happiness he enjoys in that labor. He testifies of the great happiness he enjoys in that labor. He testifies that God was with him and His angels were round about him. These Elders return and associate among the people. Today, you may go through our settlements, and though they may have spent years on missions, you cannot find them by their poverty; there is no distinction in their property to indicate their sacrifice, because God has multiplied His temporal blessings upon them and prosperity attends them. Thus God manifests that He is willing to reward those who serve Him. (George Q. Cannon, "General Conference," Deseret Weekly, [Saturday, 13 April 1889]: 485).
Did an Elder ever go on a mission; without purse and scrip, without receiving his reward? What does he say when he comes back? "I never spent such a happy time in my life. My heart was filled with joy such as I never had. The peace and power of God were with me. The Holy Ghost was my companion. And though I had difficulties to contend with, I never was so happy as I was on that mission." (George Q. Cannon, "God's Blessings to His People," Deseret Weekly, [Saturday, 25 May 1889]: 674).
The Lord said: “For, behold, I will bless all those who labor in my vineyard with a mighty blessing, and they shall believe on his words, which are given him through me by the Comforter, which manifesteth that Jesus was crucified by sinful men for the sins of the world, yea, for the remission of sins unto the contrite heart” (D&C 21:9).
I call attention to the fact that he made a promise that he would bless all those who labored in his vineyard, and since that time thousands of men and women have gone into the world to advocate the truth. I have met and visited with hundreds, yes and with thousands of them myself, and I have never heard one bear any other testimony than that the Lord had blessed him and given him great joy when he labored in his service. (George Albert Smith, Conference Report, April 1930, p. 66).
What these ambassadors of the Lord have done for individuals, families, communities, and nations would fill books. A million hearts swell today in gratitude for their blessed service. A man contemplates his home, the loving family which surrounds him, his prosperous business, the esteem of his fellow men, the fraternity of his brethren in the priesthood, his faith, his contentment, his glorious hopes and from the depths of his soul he cries, "God bless the missionary who brought me this." (Stephen L. Richards, Conference Report, October 1945, p. 55-56).
I know of nothing in this world that can do for your boys and girls what a mission can. Jesus said, "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." (John 17:3); and there is no way I know of in the world where men can learn to know God as they can in the mission field. (LeGrand Richards, Conference Report, April 1945, p. 163).
I thank God for the opportunities that I have enjoyed of working among you, and in his Church, the missions that I have been able to fill, and the other sundry odd jobs, because I truly love the work more than anything else in this world, and I know it is true. I could live better without the limbs of my body than I could without the testimony of the Holy Ghost and the Spirit of the Lord. (LeGrand Richards, Conference Report, April 1952, p. 112).
Missionary service not only yields converts to the restored gospel but it also brings blessings of inestimable worth into the lives of those who give such service. As the missionary teaches the doctrine of salvation to others, he blesses his own life. (Gordon B. Hinckley, Ensign, [May 1984]: 99).
I challenge you to enjoy your call and to magnify it completely. Be happy and joyful in the service of the Lord. Love missionary work with all your heart. I promise you that as you magnify your call this will be the sweetest and most glorious experience you have had in Church service to this time. (Ezra Taft Benson, Mission Presidents’ Seminar, Salt Lake City, Utah, 25 June 1986).
Do not get in a hurry, be patient in our labors and abide your time, and do not make up your mind that time is set for your release. If you do, and you should not be released at the precise time you expect, it will be a very great disappointment to you, and the time hereafter. . . might drag very heavily on your hands. Rather, make up your mind to remain until the Lord and your brethren are satisfied with your labors, or until your release shall come. You will then be subjected to no disappointments. (Joseph F. Smith, From Prophet to Son: Advice of Joseph F. Smith to His Missionary Sons, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1981, p. 55).
I earnestly desire that you will never, through all your life, throw off the armor of the Gospel, or cease to advocate, defend and practice the precepts of the Son of God. I want you to be faithful, to complete your mission, to abide your time, and when God’s servants shall say it is enough for this time, to come home with spotless garments and a clear conscience. Nothing could grieve me more than to think you would not do all this, and nothing could give me more joy and satisfaction [than] to know you will come home pure and unspotted from the world, I have all confidence in your integrity, I believe in you with all my heart, and I love you with all my soul. I pray for you always. My thoughts of you in your labors are a constant prayer for your success. (Joseph F. Smith, From Prophet to Son: Advice of Joseph F. Smith to His Missionary Sons, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1981, p. 56).
We spend most of our time, many of us, seeking the things of this life that we will be compelled to leave when we go from here, yet there are the immortal souls around us whom, if we would, we could teach and inspire to investigate the truth and implant in their hearts a knowledge that God lives. What treasure in all the world could be so precious to us, for we would have their gratitude here and their everlasting and eternal appreciation in the world to come. (George Albert Smith, Conference Report, October 1916, p. 50).
The knowledge, the tolerance, the adventure, the polish, and the experiences which worldwide travel brings have been, during the whole history of the Church, the product of our missionary system. I feel sure that in no other communities on the earth is the percentage of those who have "seen the world" so large as in the villages, towns, and cities of the Latter-day Saints.
Such benefits, however, while important, are but incidental. The more vital results are deeper than the enlarged information and polish. The fundamental character of our manhood and womanhood has been improved. Sacrifice has taught self-control. Giving has made for generosity as it always does. Teaching the virtues has brought them into application, and high spirituality has ingrained testimony and soul development. The general uplift in all standards of living which the Church has brought to its adherents is no small measure directly attributable to its missionary system. (Stephen L. Richards, Conference Report, October 1945, p. 55).
To me, missionaries are a constantly renewing miracle. During the years of my ministry as a General Authority, I have had an opportunity to meet with them across the earth. They are much the same everywhere. For the most part they are young--handsome young men and beautiful young women. They are vital and alive and enthusiastic in their work. They are not easily daunted or discouraged, although they know discouragement from time to time and in a very real way. They are dedicated and committed to the work to which they have been called. They are led and directed and inspired by a great body of mission Presidents’ whom they come to love almost as they love their own fathers. They fortify one another and develop wonderful associations--friendships that continue throughout their lives. They have been called by the spirit of prophecy and revelation, and their devoted efforts bring a constant infusion of new blood and new life into the Church. (Gordon B. Hinckley, "The Field is White Already to Harvest," Ensign, [December 1986]: 4).
The work of the Lord is going forward as never before--but, as always, there is infinitely more to be done as we contemplate the whole world and its four billion inhabitants as our field of missionary labor. Do not misunderstand me-we are grateful and know the Lord is pleased with your efforts. He is mindful of your devoted service and does and will bless you for so serving. But there is so much yet to do and the adversary is so unrelenting. So we pray and encourage you not to weary in well doing. (Spencer W. Kimball, Regional Representatives’ Seminar, 30 March 1979).
You're not going to be common men. Every one of you must be special so that the Lord will approve of you and appreciate you. I am speaking to all those who should be on missions as well as those who are on missions.
You know today you are building your life just as much as if you had loads of gravel and lots of timbers to build it with. I'm speaking to everybody here. If we could see our lives today and then see them in twenty years from now, we could each go back and decide: It was back there during those years when I was a missionary where I made my life.
Do you think that the only reason the Lord has called you to the mission field is to preach the gospel? Absolutely not. That is important. But you are called into the mission field to make men, sons of God, strong, powerful leaders. (Spencer W. Kimball, San Jose Costa Rica Area Conference, 24 February 1977, p. 29).
How profoundly grateful I am for the experience of that mission. I touched the lives of a few who have, over the years, expressed appreciation. That has been important. But I have never been greatly concerned over the number of baptisms that I had or that other missionaries had. My satisfaction has come from the assurance that I did what the Lord wanted me to do and that I was an instrument in His hands for the accomplishment of His purposes. In the course of that experience, there became riveted into my very being a conviction and knowledge that this is in very deed the true and living work of God, restored through a prophet for the blessing of all who will accept it and live its principles. (Gordon B. Hinckley, CR A'86, “The Question of a Mission,” Ensign, [May 1986]: 40).
Our Almighty Father, increase our faith as we remember the glorious deliverance of the past. We remember that thy powerful hand did reveal thyself in the unconsumed "burning bush," in the desert. Thou didst reveal thy power in delivering the Children of Israel from captivity in Egypt; thou didst lead the Lehite family across impossible deserts and uncrossable seas; thou didst protect Daniel in the lions' den; thou didst open prison doors and thou didst lead the modern Saints across the plains to the mountain valleys.
With these numerous other events, we know that thou canst unlock gates and open doors that we may present to the people of this world thy exalting program as thy Beloved Son has decreed. So we pray, lead our missionaries to all nations with their testimonies of the truth and successfully bridge all barriers. (Spencer W. Kimball, Washington Temple Dedicatory Prayer, Washington, D.C., 19 November 1974).
Let a man remember that there are others that are in darkness and that have not advanced so far in knowledge, wisdom, and intelligence, and let him impart that knowledge, intelligence, and power unto his friends and brethren, inasmuch as he is farther advanced than they are, and by so doing he will soon discover that his mind will expand, and that light and knowledge which he had gained would increase and multiply more rapidly.
I have heard Brother [Heber C.] Kimball state when he was very much downhearted, he would find somebody worse than himself, and endeavor to comfort him up, and by so doing he would comfort himself, and increase in spirit and in life. (Lorenzo Snow, Journal of Discourses, London: Latter-day Saint Depot, 1855-1886, 4:241).
Mankind in all ages search for happiness; they desire social and domestic peace; and when they think of the vast future, they desire to participate in the blessings that are spoken of as pertaining to that state of existence; but they know not how to obtain them, except a servant of God comes along and points out the way of life. (Wilford Woodruff, The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, sel. G. Homer Durham Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1946, p. 259).
The Lord has promised great blessings to us in proportion to how well we share the gospel. We will receive help from the other side of the veil as the spiritual miracles occur. The Lord has told us that our sins will be forgiven more readily as we bring souls unto Christ and remain steadfast in bearing testimony to the world, and surely every one of us is looking for additional help in being forgiven of our sins. (See D&C 84:61). In one of the greatest of missionary scriptures, section 4 of the Doctrine and Covenants, we are told that if we serve the Lord in missionary service "with all [our] heart, might, mind and strength," then we may "Stand blameless before God at the last day" (v.2).
And, further, the Lord said: And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father! And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me! (D&C 18:15-16).
If one labors all his days and brings in save it be one soul! What joy! One soul! How precious! Oh, that God would give us that kind of love for souls! (Spencer W. Kimball, "President Kimball Speaks Out on Being a Missionary," New Era, [May 1981]: 2)
What will be my life’s work. I have counseled many returning missionaries who have asked this question. Frequently, we find that missionaries like to emulate their mission president. If he is an educator, a preponderant number of missionaries will want to be educators; if he is a businessman, a large number will want to study business; if he is a doctor, many of the missionaries will want to be physicians, for they naturally desire to emulate a man whom they respect and admire. My counsel to returning missionaries and to every youth is that they should study and prepare for their life’s work in a field that they enjoy, because they are going to spend a good share of their lives in that field. I believe it should be a field that will make maximum utilization of their talents and their capabilities, and, finally, a field that will provide them sufficient remuneration to provide adequately for a companion and children. Such is a big order, but I bear testimony that these criteria are very important in choosing one’s life’s work. (Thomas S. Monson, Be Your Best Self, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1979, p. 132).
Now may I speak from my heart of what an honorable full-time mission has meant to me personally. I grew up in a home with very good parents, but my father was not a member and my mother was less active. After my mission that changed. They became strong members and served devotedly in the temple—he a sealer, she an ordinance worker. But as a young man, like many of you today, I had no way to judge personally the importance of a mission. I fell in love with an exceptional young woman. At a critical point in our courtship, she made it very clear that she would only be married in the temple to a returned missionary. Duly motivated, I served a mission in Uruguay.
It was not easy. The Lord gave me many challenges that became stepping-stones to personal growth. There I gained my testimony that God the Father and His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, did in fact visit Joseph Smith to begin a restoration of truth, priesthood authority, and the true Church on earth. I gained a witness that Joseph Smith is a singular prophet. I learned essential doctrines. I discovered what it meant to be led by the Spirit. Many a night I got up as my companion slept to pour my heart out to the Lord for guidance and direction. I pled for the ability to express effectively in Spanish my testimony and the truth I was learning to a people I had come to love. Those prayers were abundantly answered. At the same time, my future eternal companion, Jeanene, was being molded to become an exceptional wife and mother by her own mission.
Most important, all that I now hold dear in life began to mature in the mission field. Had I not been encouraged to be a missionary, I would not have the eternal companion or precious family I dearly love. I am confident that I would not have had the exceptional professional opportunities that stretched my every capacity. I am certain that I would not have received the sacred callings with opportunities to serve for which I will be eternally grateful. My life has been richly blessed beyond measure because I served a mission.
Now can you understand why I am so anxious to motivate every one of you young men to be a worthy missionary? Can you comprehend why I encourage you as a mature couple to plan, if health permits, to serve the Lord as missionaries? Can you see why I suggest that some of you young women, where there is a desire and it will not affect an impending marriage, seriously consider serving the Lord as a missionary? Our home has been greatly blessed by a wife and mother who chose to serve a full-time mission during my period of service. (Richard G. Scott, “Now Is the Time to Serve a Mission!” Ensign, [May 2006]: 87).
The importance of such obedience came home hard for me soon after I was called to be a General Authority. President Ezra Taft Benson telephoned to assign me to speak at a funeral service for a missionary who had lost his life in the mission field. I believe I felt more anxiety in approaching this assignment than I had felt in preparing to speak in general conference. During the course of my preparation, I called the young man’s mission president and asked, “What kind of an elder was he?”
“Outstanding,” the president said,” “He could have been given any assignment in our mission, and I knew he would have performed well and faithful. Brother Ballard, I just didn’t have any finer missionary than this young man.”
What a thrill it was to know that that missionary was living worthy of the celestial kingdom on his mission and to be able to assure his family that all was well with their son. I am sure he did not expect to be called home while serving a mission. I am sure he did not expect that accident to occur. But it happened. He was alive and well in the morning and gone in the afternoon. Gone where? Back to the presence of our Father in Heaven, to inherit all that the Father has. Do you think it was worth it to him to be an obedient, faithful missionary? Infinitely so. (M. Russell Ballard, When Thou Art Converted, [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2001], pp. 14-15).
I shall go to my grave saying that missionaries . . . never rise in their entire life above the stature they carve out for themselves in the mission field. I ask the missionaries all over the world to write that in their book, and then read the book ten years from now. If perchance, they have not risen in that first ten years after they come home from the mission field, above that status of mediocrity that they maintained in the mission field, get down on their knees, pray, and work a little harder and seek to overcome that tremendous handicap they placed upon themselves by their lack of application, lack of appreciation, and lack of dedication in the mission field. (Henry D. Moyle, California Mission Address, 2 June 1962).
We are always heart-broken if even one missionary returns home without that testimony which will stay with them for a lifetime. If we lose one returned missionary, that's too many. Surely, . . . whatever the spectrum of success or difficulty faced in a particular mission, at least the missionary can come home blessed with a testimony burning in his or her soul. (Jeffrey R. Holland, “More astonishing in preaching gospel: Missionary success comes with teaching by power and authority,” Church News [Saturday, January 26, 2008]: 4).
Missionary work has its greatest effect as people make and keep the commitments to stay active in the Church all the days of their lives. It is not enough for people to simply come into the Church. They must come to stay. All of your teaching and invitations must be directed toward this end. In order to receive all the blessings that our Heavenly Father has in store for them, members must continue to live the gospel and be active in the Church.
Nephi taught: “And now, my beloved brethren, after ye have gotten into this strait and narrow path, I would ask if all is done? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; . . . ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ . . . and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life” (2 Nephi 31: 19-20).
Give your best efforts to help people qualify for “eternal life, which gift is the greatest of all the gifts of God” (D&C 14:7). (Preach my Gospel: A guide to missionary service. Salt Lake City: Intellectual Reserve, 2004, p. 221).
You have the great opportunity of working with many leaders and members during your mission. Together you will strengthen and establish the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The relationships you establish with Church leaders will bless you for the rest of your life. These are important relationships as you and Church members seek to bring the restored gospel to Heavenly Father’s children. Understanding the basics of how to work within the ward organization will help you move forward with greater focus and power. (Preach my Gospel: A guide to missionary service. Salt Lake City: Intellectual Reserve, 2004, p. 213).
“'Behold how great is your calling” (D&C 112:33). How great is your calling! You are not sent here to take pictures. You are not sent here to play. You are sent here to find and teach. That's our opportunity, our challenge, and our responsibility. You'll never rise higher in all your lives than you will do while you are in the mission field. That may sound like a strange thing. I said that once in Argentina many years ago, and about ten years later I received a letter from a young man who said, 'When I was on a mission in Argentina, you came there and you put a hex on me. I haven't been able to lift it. I have been no good ever since. I failed in school, I failed in my work, I failed in my marriage.' I didn't put a hex on him. I simply told him that he would never stand taller, never rise higher, than while in the service of the Lord, and his subsequent life demonstrated that. (Gordon B. Hinckley, The Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1997, p. 362).
Under the direction of the bishop, missionaries may continue to fellowship new members. Continue to teach them and review what they have been taught. Encourage and support them, read the Book of Mormon with them, and help them share the gospel with family members and friends. As appropriate, continue throughout your life to communicate with those whom you have taught and to encourage and to support them. (Preach my Gospel: A guide to missionary service. Salt Lake City: Intellectual Reserve, 2004, p. 210).
It is so important, my brethren and sisters, to see that [newly baptized members] are converted, that they have in their hearts a conviction concerning this great work. It is not a matter of the head only. It is a matter of the heart and its being touched by the Holy Spirit until they know that this work is true, that Joseph Smith was verily a prophet of God, that God lives and that Jesus Christ lives and that They appeared to the boy Joseph Smith, that the Book of Mormon is true, that the priesthood is here with all of its gifts and blessings. I just cannot emphasize this too strongly. (Gordon B. Hinckley, Bogotá, Colombia, Missionary Meeting, 8 November 1996).
A testimony will grow stronger in the field, and I pray that you will never lose it, as long as you live, and that from this remarkable experience will come strength and faith and power for all the years that follow throughout your life. (Gordon B. Hinckley, New Mission Presidents' Seminar, Church News, [3 July 1999] ).
The seeds of testimony frequently do not take root and flower immediately. Bread cast upon the water returns, at times only after many days.
I answered the ring of my telephone one evening to hear a voice ask, “Are you related to an Elder Monson who years ago served in the New England Mission?” I answered that such was not the case. The caller introduced himself as a Brother Leonardo Gambardella and then mentioned that an Elder Monson and an Elder Bonner had called at his home long ago and had borne their personal testimonies to him. He had listened but had done nothing further to apply their teachings. Subsequently he moved to California, where, after some thirteen years, he again found the truth and was converted and baptized. Brother Gambardella then asked if there were a way he could reach these elders who first had visited with him, so that he might express to them his profound gratitude for their testimonies, which he had remained with him.
I checked the records. I located the elders. Can you imagine their surprise when, now married with families of their own, I telephoned them and told them the good news—even the culmination of their early efforts. They remember Brother Gambardella and, at my suggestion, telephoned him to extend their congratulations and welcomed him into the Church.
Each person can make a difference. Whom the Lord calls the Lord qualifies. This promise extends not only to missionaries, but also to home teachers, quorum leaders, presidents of branches, and bishops of wards. When we qualify ourselves by our worthiness, when we strive with faith, nothing wavering, to fulfill the duties appointed to us, when we seek the inspiration of the Almighty in the performance of our responsibilities, we can achieve the miraculous. (Thomas S. Monson, Live the Good Life, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1988, pp. 120-121).
While presiding over the Canadian Mission, Sister Monson and I had the opportunity of serving with the finest young men and women in all the world. Their very lives exemplified faith and prayer.
There sat in my office one day a newly arrived missionary. He was bright, strong, filled with enthusiasm and a desire to serve, happy and grateful to be a missionary. As I spoke with him, I said, “Elder, I imagine that your father and mother wholeheartedly support you in your mission call.” He lowered his head and replied, “Well, not quite. You see, president, my father is not a member of the Church. He doesn’t believe as we believe, so he cannot fully appreciate the importance of my assignment.” Without hesitating, and prompted by a source—not my own—I said to him, “Elder, if you will honestly and diligently serve God in proclaiming his message, your father will join the Church before your mission is concluded.” He clasped my hand in a vice-like grip; the tears welled up in his eyes and began to roll forth down his cheeks, and he declared, ”To see my father accept the truth would be the greatest blessing that could come in my life.”
This missionary did not sit idly by hoping and wishing that the promise would be fulfilled but, rather, he followed the example of Abraham Lincoln, of whom it has been said, “When he prayed, he prayed as though everything depended on God, and then he worked as though everything depended on himself.” Such was the missionary service of this young man.
At every missionary conference I would seek him out before the meetings would ever commence and ask, “Elder, how’s dad progressing?” His reply would invariably be, “No progress, president, but I know the Lord will fulfill the promise given to me through you as my mission president.” The days turned to weeks and the weeks to months, and finally, just two weeks before we ourselves left the mission field to return home, I received the following letter from the father of this missionary:
Dear Brother Monson:
I wish to thank you so much for taking good care of my son who recently completed a mission in Canada. He has been an inspiration to us.
My son was promised when he left on his mission that I would become a member of the Church before he returned. This promise was, I believe, made to him by you, unknown to me.
I am happy to report that I was baptized into the Church one week before he completed his mission and am at the present time athletic director of the MIA and have a teaching assignment.
My son is now attending BYU and his younger brother was also recently baptized and confirmed a member of the Church.
May I again thank you for all the kindness and love bestowed upon my son by his brothers in the mission field during the past two years.
Yours very truly,
A grateful father
The humble prayer of faith had once again been answered. (Thomas S. Monson, Pathways to Perfection, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1980, pp. 29-30).
The knowledge, the tolerance, the adventure, the polish, and the experience which worldwide travel brings have been, during the whole history of the Church, the product of our missionary system. I feel sure that in no other communities on the earth is the percentage of those who have “seen the world” so large as in the villages, towns, and cities of the Latter-day Saints.
Such benefits, however, while important, are but incidental. The more vital results are deeper than enlarged information and polish. The fundamental character of our manhood and womanhood has been improved. Sacrifice has taught self-control. Giving has made for generosity as it always does. Teaching the virtues them into application, and high spirituality has ingrained testimony and soul development. The general uplift in all standards of living which the Church has brought to its adherents is no small measure directly attributable to its missionary system. (Stephen L. Richards, Conference Report, October 1945, p. 55).
Missionary work is different in nature than any other position, and is a great privilege and blessing to be involved in, and a very small gift to give. Missionary work is the payment of a tithe of your life to the advancement of the work of God in all the world...Missionaries who are prayerful, obedient and who work hard will be given some measure of harvest, for which you will be grateful all the days of your life...You will never be able to judge the consequences of that which you do as a missionary...If you bring someone into the Church and that individual stays in the Church, the harvest will go on and on, growing and growing through the years and through generations of time...We place tremendous confidence in you. We count on you to do a superb job. No less than the best will do. You must do your very, very best. (Gordon B. Hinckley, Church News, [July 1998] ).
We must always remember that we are not laboring for the applause of men, nor to gain favors which we do not deserve. We need care nothing for the opinions of others so long as we have a consciousness of well-doing. Let our aim always be to do right because it is right and because it is our mission to do good, and leave the results in the hands of the Lord. (Joseph F. Smith, From Prophet to Son: Advice of Joseph F. Smith to His Missionary Sons, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1981, p. 67).
I am pleased to learn that you are satisfied with your field of labor, and that you feel contented. It is a good thing for one who is on a mission, at least, to cultivate the feeling and habit of contentment. You know the story of the “old lady,” who struggled for twenty years to get a contented mind and failed, until she concluded to be contented without it. Always make the best of everything. (Joseph F. Smith, From Prophet to Son: Advice of Joseph F. Smith to His Missionary Sons, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1981, p. 85).
I have attended hundreds of missionary meetings over the years. I love to hear missionaries speak of their love for the Lord, but I also love to hear them speak with great appreciation and love concerning their parents. Boys who have been careless and indifferent stand on their feet and with tears in their eyes thank the Lord for their fathers and their mothers. In these days, what a salutary and wonderful thing it is to hear a strong young man stand up and speak with great feeling concerning his father and his mother, saying things he would never have said before in all of his life. Every boy and girl ought to come home with an increase love for parents. (Gordon B. Hinckley, “Gifts to Bring Home from the Mission Field,” New Era, [March 2007]: 2).
I believe in something else that is a barometer of their goodness. Paul warned that in the last days men would be unthankful, unholy, disobedient to parents, without natural affection (see 2 Timothy 3:1–3). One need not look far in the homes of our time to see that prophecy being fulfilled. And yet I have witnessed a repudiation of that insofar as many are concerned. In my visits with our young missionaries, I have heard hundreds of our young men and women stand on their feet and express their feelings. Almost without exception they speak words of appreciation, of thankfulness for their parents. What a remarkably refreshing thing it is to hear young men and women, nineteen, twenty, twenty-one, and twenty-two years of age, stand before one another and, in the quiet confidences of such a meeting, say, “I really appreciate my dad.” “I love my mother.” They are not maudlin; they are manly, athletic, able young men and womanly girls of charm and education. Their words come from the heart. Those sentiments in this day are as a cool and refreshing breeze on a hot and humid night. (Gordon B. Hinckley, “‘Be Not Afraid, Only Believe’,” Ensign, [February 1996]: 2).
The very best element for successful missionary labor is humility, coupled with persistence and a determination to do one’s whole duty. In order to do this one must be careful not to divide his attentions too much with other things. You have started in to win, and victory will depend upon your integrity to the work you have begun. It will be time enough after you have completed your mission and received an honorable discharge to relax your mind by turning your thoughts into other channels. And yet I sincerely hope that you will never dismiss from your mind an earnest desire to help to build up Zion and live and spread the truth restored to earth through Joseph Smith the Prophet throughout all the rest of your days. (Joseph F. Smith, From Prophet to Son: Advice of Joseph F. Smith to His Missionary Sons, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1981, p. 109).
Two or three years is a very short time in which too reach all the people that a missionary should deliver the message of salvation to. A missionary only realizes the opportunities he has missed when it is too late. After your mission has been completed and you are preparing to return home, you will reflect upon the time you have spent in the field and wish you had improved your time even better than you did. At least this is the case with most of us. (Joseph F. Smith, From Prophet to Son: Advice of Joseph F. Smith to His Missionary Sons, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1981, p. 118).
If needed, every servant of God with a knowledge of the Gospel, ought to be willing to give his life to this cause, which is in very deed the work of the Master, the plan of life and salvation, the Gospel of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. When we arrive at a full realization of the fact that we have in very deed the Pearl of Great Price, that the Gospel which we have to give to the people of the world means life eternal to those who embrace and faithfully live it; when we realize this, and when we stop to reflect upon the revelation given to the Prophet Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, in which the Lord says: “And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father! And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me” [D&C 18:15–16]; then we will begin to realize and comprehend and understand the magnitude of this work. (Heber J. Grant, Conference Report, October 1907, p. 23).
Dedicated missionaries who do their very best learn lessons as important or even more important than anything they can learn in university study. I’ll give you an example. Missionaries learn how to relate to people, how to talk to people, how to help people. Whether they are going to be doctors, lawyers, merchants, or something else, the ability to relate to people can be the difference between being successful or not in that career.
A second great blessing is that missionaries become doctrinally anchored to the reality of the Atonement. There comes to them a love for and devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ that will absolutely bless them and their families in mortality and on into eternity. The most powerful learning experience we can have are when we teach someone else. And that is what missionaries do. They internalize the doctrine; they internalize the reality of the Atonement. And this will bless them in all future Church assignments.
Another great blessing is that as missionaries reach out to rescue and pull into the light of the gospel families who are wandering in the darkness, they see what they don’t want in their own lives. The experience clarifies for them their values they want to live by, the kind of family they want, the way they want to teach their children, and the goals they need in order to claim the promised blessings of the temple. A mission is the greatest education in the world.
You know, President Gordon B. Hinckley has said many times that his mission is the foundation of his lifetime of service. He credits his mission for putting him on the course that brought him to lead the Church. I think you’ll agree that he is doing so in a magnificent way.
We’re at a time in the Church’s history where young men and young women all over the world will rise up and serve as missionaries. They can’t assume there are enough young people in the United States to do all that the Lord needs. He needs the youth everywhere the Church is organized to prepare themselves to bring souls to Him. As they do, they will bless the entire earth and bring heaven’s blessings to themselves and their families now and forever. (M. Russell Ballard, “How to Prepare to Be a Good Missionary,” New Era, [March 2007]: 10-11).
I regret I am not able to tell you that we have done something wonderful over in Japan. To be perfectly frank with you, I acknowledge I have accomplished very little indeed, as the president of that mission; and very little has been accomplished—so far as conversions are concerned—by the few Elders sent there to labor, or by the sisters who were with me. At the same time, I have the assurance in my heart there will yet be a great and important labor accomplished in that land. The inhabitants are a wonderful people. (Heber J. Grant, Conference Report, October 1903, p. 7).
Many of us fail to realize the value and potent possibilities of this great branch of Church activity.
1. As an example of voluntary service in the cause of the Master, it is unexcelled.
2. As an incentive to clean living among youth, as a contributing factor to character building, its influence is immeasurable.
3. As an educative force and uplifting influence upon our communities, its effect is clearly manifest.
4. As a contributing factor to a better understanding among nations, and to the establishing of international friendship, it wields a significant influence.
5. As it is the purpose of the Almighty to save the individual, not to make him a mere cog in the machinery of the state, the missionary service works most harmoniously in the consummation of this eternal plan! (David O. McKay, Conference Report, October 1949, p. 117).
I shall go to my grave saying that missionaries... never rise in their entire life above the stature they carve out for themselves in the mission field. I ask the missionaries all over the world to write that in their book, and then read the book ten years from now. (Henry D. Moyle, California Mission Address, 2 June 1962).
I see that it did so much for me, far greater than the time spent....I am here today because of that mission, and I plead with you now to make the most of your missions. (Gordon B. Hinckley, “First Presidency Trains Mission Presidents,” Ensign, [September 1999]: 76).
When you receive these special spiritual experiences, they are not to be chattered about. They are private, and they are personal. You will come to know with a very personal conviction that the Lord knew you were coming that way.
You may learn by trial and error and say: “I knew I shouldn’t have done that. I knew I shouldn’t have!” How did you know? Because you knew. You were being prompted.
Or you will say regretfully, “I knew I should have done that and didn’t.” How will you know? You are being worked upon by the Spirit.
Promptings may come as “sudden strokes of ideas” (History of the Church, 3:381).
“I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost” (D&C 8:2).
“Put your trust in that Spirit which leadeth to do good—yea, to do justly, to walk humbly, to judge righteously; and this is my Spirit.
“...I will impart unto you of my Spirit, which shall enlighten your mind, which shall fill your soul with joy;
“And then shall ye know, or by this shall you know, all things whatsoever you desire of me, which are pertaining unto things of righteousness, in faith believing in me that you shall receive” (D&C 11:12–14).
“Did I not speak peace to your mind concerning the matter? What greater witness can you have than from God?” (D&C 6:23). (Boyd K. Packer, The Gift of the Holy Ghost: What Every Member Should Know,” Liahona [August 2006]:24; Mission Presidents’ Seminar, Provo, Utah, 24 June 2003).
I believe that every Latter-day Saint who has received a testimony of the divinity of the work in which we are engaged has [the] same feeling that Alma had—a desire that all the world might hear the testimony of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ [see Alma 29:1–9]. When men and women receive a testimony of the divine mission of the Prophet Joseph Smith, they are anxious that all the world should have that same knowledge and faith. They are anxious that the gospel should go to every honest soul. And there is no other labor in all the world that brings to a human heart, judging from my own personal experience, more joy, peace and serenity than proclaiming the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. (Heber J. Grant, Conference Report, October 1926, p. 4).
I believe the definition of “grace” is implied in the fourth section of the Doctrine and Covenants where the Lord promised to those who would engage vigorously in missionary work: “… 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.” [D&C 4:4.] The saving “grace” of the Lord’s atoning power would extend to the giver as well as to those who would receive the saving ordinances of the gospel. (Harold B. Lee, Conference Report, April 1961, 34–35).
As regards the circumstances of their families, it is proper and correct that men should have some feelings for those they have left at home. It is true there ought to be sympathy and some care for those with whom they have been immediately associated; yet their families as well as our families, and all of us and our affairs are in the hands of God, and, inasmuch as they go forth putting their trust in the hands of God, and, they will find peace and contentment from this time forth until they return, inasmuch as they will magnify their callings and lean upon their God. In this is their safety, in order that they may be enabled to bear a faithful testimony to the world among whom they may travel to deliver their message of warning, and of glad tidings of great joy to the honest in heart. (John Taylor, Journal of Discourses, London: Latter-Day Saint Book Depot, 1855-1886, 27 April 1862, 10:37).
A hundred years ago yesterday the Lord commenced this work. At that time he gave certain information, I shall not take the time to read that (Section 21), but I call attention to the fact that in it the Lord said:“For, behold, I will bless all those who labor in my vineyard with a mighty blessing, and they shall believe on his words, which are given him through me by the Comforter, which manifesteth that Jesus was crucified by sinful men for the sins of the world, yea, for the remission of sins unto the contrite heart” (D&C 21:9).
I call attention to this fact that he made a promise that he would bless all those who labored in his vineyard, and since that time thousands of men and women have gone into the world to advocate the truth. I have met and visited with hundreds, yes, and with thousands of them myself, and I have never heard one bear any other testimony than that the Lord had blessed him and given him great joy when he labored in his service. (George Albert Smith, Conference Report, April 1930, p. 66).
My beloved co-workers, you face the happiest years of your lives. I know whereof I speak. I have been there. I have tasted the joy of missionary work. There is no work in all the world that can bring an individual greater joy and happiness. I pray your joy will be full, and like Ammon of old, you will be able to say:
I do not boast in my own strength, nor in my own wisdom; but behold, my joy is full, yea, my heart is brim with joy, and I will rejoice in my God. Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever. (Alma 26:11-12). (Ezra Taft Benson, Texas San Antonio Mission, 2 March 1986).
There are few things that invite the blessings of the Lord into our own lives . . . more powerfully than does missionary service—the broadening of knowledge of gospel principles, a deeper spirituality, strengthening of one’s faith in the Lord, a greater understanding of the workings of the Spirit, and the expanding of one’s talents, as promised by the Savior in the parable of the talents. (David B. Haight, Ensign, [November 1988]: 85).
In no part of the work of God here upon the earth at the present time is there such a band of happy, contented, peaceful people as those who are engaged in missionary service. Service is the real key to joy. When one is giving service for the advancement of humanity, when one is working without money and without price, with no hope of earthly reward, there comes a real, genuine joy into the human heart. (Heber J. Grant, Conference Report, April 1934, p. 9).
But the call comes to go on a mission. We take our lives in our hands, and we preach the gospel to a people that do not seem to care much about it, and we ask them to come and enjoy the happiness that we have in the Church of God. Why do we do it? Because we have a great affection for God than we have for our wives and children, houses and lands, or anything else. I hope my affection will always be centered on the Almighty. I want to be redeemed back into His presence; and if I fail, there is an end to my happiness. (George Teasdale, Conference Report, 4 October 1895).
He undertook to carry the gospel message to all parts of the world, and the success of that project is miraculous. He undertook to weld men from practically all parts of the world into a brotherhood. They came by the thousands from Germany, France, Italy, Holland, Belgium, the British Isles, the Scandinavian countries, and the isles of the sea; men of almost every nation, tongue and people, pursuant to the predictions of some of his predecessors. These people, despite national antagonisms, were bound together in a brotherhood such as is not known elsewhere in the world. That’s a superhuman undertaking for a young man without education and only thirty-nine years old. (Hugh B. Brown, Joseph Smith Among the Prophets, 16th Annual Joseph Smith Memorial Sermon, Logan LDS Institute, 7 December 1958, p. 11).
A faith-promoting report came to us from a young mission president and his wife who had presided over a mission in Peru, where there was experienced one of the worst calamities in the history of the world, in which an estimated seventy thousand persons were buried when an earthquake moved an entire mountain over two cities, which were completely destroyed. Four missionaries were laboring there, two in each city. When the earthquake came, they were at the Lord’s business; two of them were teaching a gospel lesson on the outskirts of the town and the other two were in a preparation meeting in another city.
After the three terrifying days of semi-darkness from the choking dust, they philosophized that this might be like the time when the Savior was crucified, when there were three days of darkness, and when He would come again, when two would be grinding at the mill, and one would be taken and the other left; two would be working in the field, and one would be taken and the other one left. (See Matthew 24:40-41).
When an earthquake strikes, every person might be taken as he is then living—if at a movie, or a tavern, or in a drunken stupor, or whatever. But the true servants of God, those who are doing their duty, will be protected and preserved if they will do as the Lord has counseled: “stand ye in holy places, and be not moved,” when these days should come. (D&C 87:8.) (Harold B. Lee, Stand Ye in Holy Places, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1974, p. 87).
To render service. . . in the mission field is a blessing to anyone. It is recognized as such by thousands of parents throughout the Church who appreciate the value of such labor to their sons and daughters, in whom this experience awakens an appreciation of home and of the gospel. Parents know also that missionary activity brings into the plane of consciousness a knowledge of the truth of the gospel, which the young men have perhaps felt but not expressed. (David O. McKay, Conference Report, April 1961, 96).
I tell you . . . if you want to have something come into your lives that will fill you with faith through all eternity, get into this missionary work and get the spirit of it, and joy will come into your heart. (Matthew Cowley, Matthew Cowley Speaks, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1954, p. 412).
A man who is honest, full of integrity and love for the interest and happiness of mankind, . . . will not and cannot keep silent, but despite threats and opposition, however, fierce and terrific, will boldly declare the glorious [gospel], spreading and multiplying this divine intelligence, and if so required, seal this testimony with his own life’s blood. (Lorenzo Snow, Journal of Discourses, London: Latter-day Saints Book Depot, 1855-1886, 6 March 1886, 26:376).
There is no joy that can compare with that of a missionary who has been made the instrument for the salvation of a soul. (Orson F. Whitney, Conference Report, April 1918, p. 73).
One’s labor in the missionary field broadens his field of vision, vitalizes his energies, enlarges his capacity for good work in any direction and makes of him in every way a stronger and more useful citizen, as well as a more devoted member of the Church. While a missionary is actually engaged in the field he should be wholly a missionary, devoting the best of his energies to the special duties assigned him. When he returns to his home community he is still a missionary in the general sense; but he must remember that he has again taken his place in the ranks of the toilers, to earn his bread by the sweat of his brow....Returned missionaries ought to be in demand where brave hearts, strong minds and willing hands are wanted. The genius of the gospel is not that of negative goodness—mere absence of what is bad; it stands for aggressive energy well directed, for positive goodness—in short, for work. (Joseph F. Smith, “Counsel to Returning Missionaries,” Millennial Star, [2 Oct. 1913]: 646–647).
“Ye are the light of the world; a city set upon a hill.” [See Matthew 5:14.] What does that mean? . . .
. . . Any Latter-day Saint in Church circles, in military service, in social life, or in the business community is looked upon not just as an individual, but as the visible Church today. Someone has said: “Be careful how you act, because you may be the only Standard Church Works some people may ever read.” The Lord here warns us that the standard of living in the Church must be visibly higher than the standard of living in the world. (Harold B. Lee, Ye are the light of the world: selected sermons and writings of President Harold B. Lee, Salt Lake City : Deseret Book, 1974. pp. 12–13).
I heard a young missionary up in the Northwest say that he wouldn’t take a million dollars for the experience of his mission. I sat behind him and said to myself, “Would you take a million dollars for your first mission in the little land of Holland?” I began counting the people I had been privileged to bring into the Church, and I have lived to see their boys and girls and their grandchildren and now their great-grandchildren going on their missions. What kind of a man would I be to sell them out of the Church for a million dollars? The son of one man alone has done enough for this Church to more than compensate me for everything that I did.
Brother Matthew Cowley was one of the great missionaries of the Church. Talking in one of the BYU devotionals, on March 12, 1946, he made this statement. I would like to give it to you because it so clearly voices my feeling toward the great missionary program of the Church. He said:
“As you have heard, I have been on two missions to New Zealand. I have attended two universities, and I will say now at the outset, if I had my life to live over again and I had to choose between the missions to New Zealand and my education in two universities, I would select my missions to New Zealand from every standpoint: from the standpoint of education, from the standpoint of spiritual development, of character development, and every other angle of development that we might consider. I would not exchange one for the other for anything. And so, I am pleased to stand before you now, not as a lawyer, not as a college graduate, but as a missionary.” (Matthew Cowley, Man of Faith, p. 203.)
That is my feeling. I think the missionary program of the Church is the greatest thing in all this world, and it is a program that we can all be engaged in, no matter where our lot is cast—not only in the words that we speak, but in the nobility of our lives, to let our light so shine, that the world, seeing our good works, can glorify our Father which is in heaven. (See Matthew 5:16.) (LeGrand Richards, “Be a Missionary,” New Era, [May 1980]: 33).
The experience you will gain during the two or three years you are on this mission will be above the price of gold or rubies, there will be no time in your life to equal it, unless you are again called into the missionary field. On this first mission, therefore, will perhaps depend your whole future for joy, usefulness, and crowns of immortality; or misery, a wasted life, and banishment from the glory of the Saints. Abstain, then, from the very first approach to sin, and as a rule for your guidance. Do nothing that you know to be wrong, and do nothing that you are doubtful about. Let the sacred covenants you have made in the House of the Lord be never forgotten, and never let them in the slightest degree be violated. Avoid everything which would interpose the slightest barrier between you and the Lord, to whom you must seek continually for help and guidance. (Cry Aloud and Spare Not,” Elders’ Journal [1 November 1905]: 73).
I think every young man should aspire to fill a mission. When we hold meetings with the missionaries in the mission field, where many tears of joy are shed, missionaries often express themselves in words like these: “When we were home, we heard returned missionaries report their missions and say that this period had been the happiest time of their lives, and we didn’t believe a word of it—but now we understand.”
A young man from the East stopped in my office on his return from his mission in Argentina, where he spent an extra six months helping the missionaries learn the language. Calling him by name, for I knew him and his parents before he left for his mission, I said: “Do you feel that it was a waste of time for you to go on that mission—that you should have been completing your education and getting ready for marriage?”
He replied: “If the brethren would like to make me happy, just let them load me on a plane tomorrow morning and send me back to Argentina.” And he hadn’t yet seen his loved ones whom he had left at home.
I met a young missionary in the Northwest who had served in the military prior to his call. Knowing that this meant delaying his education and employment, I asked him about it. He said: “There is no corporation or organization in the world that could pay me enough to get me to leave my mission.”
A missionary in Holland, after performing a baptismal service for five adults, said to me: “When I was home, I had a good job and I could go to a show or a dance whenever I wanted to. But I wouldn’t exchange an experience such as this for all the shows or dances in the world.”
A short time ago I toured with the president of the Alaska-British Columbia Mission. His daughter in high school had been successful in converting one of her chums, so she told her father she wanted to spend her summer vacation in the mission field. He sent her up to Anchorage to labor with a lady missionary, and he and I were there to attend a baptismal service when eleven people were baptized. Nine of them were the converts of this girl and her companion. The daughter came up to me with tears running down her cheeks and said, “Oh, Brother Richards, I have never been so happy in all my life.”
While in Oregon I heard a missionary give his mission report. A convert to the Church, he said, “I wouldn’t take a check for a million dollars for the experience of my mission.” I sat behind him and I said to myself, “Would you take a million dollars for your mission over in the little land of Holland?” I began counting the families that I had been successful, with the Lord’s help, in bringing into his church, and then I realized that I wouldn’t sell them out of the Church for all the money in this world.
While I was serving years ago as president of the Southern States Mission, in one of our public meetings one of our missionaries, a young man who stood 6′ 3″ and had played on a championship basketball team, said that when his team won the championship game, their companions literally carried them around on their shoulders. Then he said: “That was the greatest experience of my life until I came into the mission field. I wouldn’t exchange a night like this, bearing testimony of the restoration of the gospel, for all the basketball games I have ever played.”
One of my grandsons filled a mission in Australia. I copied a paragraph from one of his letters: “Things are really tremendous down here—I can honestly say I have never been so thrilled and excited and happy in all my life! The Lord is really blessing me.” Such a testimony is more meaningful when you realize that before he went on his mission he was the junior high school boy of the month; was student body president of his junior high school; was selected as Mr. Football and as best athlete in his class at the high school; was captain of the football and basketball team; and was a member of a championship all-Church basketball team.
Only the Lord puts such feelings as these that I’ve described into the hearts of the missionaries. (LeGrand Richards, “Every Young Man Should Aspire to Fill a Mission,” New Era, [September 1971]: 4).
When these brethren go forth, it may be a new work to them. They will have to combat the errors of ages, contend with the prejudices which they themselves state to you held such a powerful influence over them; they will also have to preach to and reason with men who have no regard for truth, much less for the religion which we have embraced, yet these elders go forth as the sent messengers of the Lord Jesus Christ. They go to proclaim that God has established his work upon the earth, that he has spoken from the heavens, and that the visions of the Almighty have been opened to our view; the light of ages is being revealed to the servants of the Most High, the darkness which has enshrouded the world for ages is being dispersed; and these chosen elders of Israel are sent forth to proclaim these glad tidings of salvation to the dark and benighted nations of the earth. … They go forth and they shall come back rejoicing, bearing precious sheaves with them, and they will bless the name of the God of Israel, that they have had the privilege of taking a part in warning this generation. (John Taylor, The Gospel Kingdom, sel. G. Homer Durham, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1943, pp. 238-239).
No man ever puts out his hand to help another without gaining for himself the right to a merited salvation because of his willingness to help others. Now, keep in mind that all of us are our Father’s children, whether presently members of the Church or not. It is these others of our Father’s children about whom we must be much concerned. They are just as dear to Him as those who are presently members of the Church. If any one of us sets himself to the task of bringing others into the fold, the Lord says he brings salvation to his own soul [see D&C 4:4]. (Harold B. Lee, Brigham Young University stake conference missionary session, 19 October 1957, Historical Department Archives, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 3).
I believe in the triumph of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the triumph of the Church and kingdom of God on the earth. If ever your faith is inclined to weaken as you see the onward march of evil and oppression, read again the story of Daniel who, putting his trust in the “God in heaven that revealeth secrets,” interpreted Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. He said concerning our day that the God of heaven shall “set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these [other] kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever” (Dan. 2:44).
I believe that the cause we have the honor to represent is that kingdom which shall stand forever.
I am not engaging in unrealistic dreams when I think of its future, for every day I see the miracle of its strength and of its growing influence in the lives of millions across the earth. Yet it is not a great impersonal juggernaut of power. It finds its best expression in the quiet of the lives of those who have embraced it.
Yes, we have problems among us. We are far from perfection. And yet I have seen so much of good that my faith constantly strengthens. (Gordon B. Hinckley, “‘Be Not Afraid, Only Believe’,” Ensign, [February 1996]: 2).
I throw out a challenge to every young man. . . . Prepare yourselves now to be worthy to serve the Lord as a full-time missionary. He has said, “If ye are prepared ye shall not fear” (D&C38:30). Prepare to consecrate two years of your lives to this sacred service. This will in effect constitute a tithe on the first twenty years of your lives. . . . I promise you that the time you spend in the mission field, if those years are spent in dedicated service, will yield a greater return on investment than any other two years of your lives. You will come to know what dedication and consecration mean. You will develop powers of persuasion which will bless your entire life. Your timidity, your fears, your shyness will gradually disappear as you go forth with boldness and conviction. You will learn to work with others, to develop a spirit of teamwork. The cankering evil of selfishness will be supplanted by a sense of service to others. You will draw nearer to the Lord than you likely will in any other set of circumstances. You will come to know that without His help you are indeed weak and simple, but that with His help you can accomplish miracles.
You will establish habits of industry. You will develop a talent for the establishment of goals of effort. You will learn to work with singleness of purpose. What a tremendous foundation all of this will become for you in your later educational efforts and your life’s work. Two years will not be time lost. It will be skills gained. . . .
And above and beyond all of this will come that sweet peace in your heart that you have served your Lord faithfully and well. Your service will become an expression of gratitude to your Heavenly Father.
You will come to know your Redeemer as your greatest friend in time or eternity. . .
If you serve a mission faithfully, and well, you will be a better husband, you will be a better father, you will be a better student, a better worker in your chosen vocation. Love is of the essence of this missionary work. Selflessness is of its very nature. Self-discipline is its requirement. Prayer opens its reservoir of power. (Gordon B. Hinckley, “Of Missions, Temples, and Stewardship,” Ensign, [November 1995]: 51-52),
As bearers and sowers of the precious seed of eternal life, let our lives correspond with our professions, our words be consonant with the truth we bear, and our acts agreeable to the revealed will of God; for [unless] these fruits do follow in some degree our professions of faith, we, as Elders or Saints, are only obstacles to the progress of the work, stumbling-blocks in the way of the practically-minded observer, and are not only not enhancing the prospects of the salvation of others, but are jeopardizing our own. (Joseph F. Smith, Life of Joseph F. Smith : sixth president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, compiled by Joseph Fielding Smith, Salt Lake City : Deseret News Press, 1938, pp. 231–32).
I was in New York some time ago. I told the Saints I met with there that the president asked them all to be missionaries. I said, “Now, won’t you all stop and think for a minute of someone you know who isn’t a member of the Church—someone you work with, your neighbor, your friend, or a relative—someone you can bring to a knowledge of the truth? They will love you for it throughout the eternities. It would be worth more to them than if you would give them a million dollars.”
Not long after that I received a letter from a young man in Houston, Texas. He had been in New York attending a convention in his particular field and had attended our meeting. The letter went like this. He said, “Brother Richards, I heard you invite each one of us to be an instrument in the hands of the Lord in bringing someone to the knowledge of the truth. I wrote a letter to my wife and told her that I had a proposition to make to her when I came home.” When he got home he told her what I had said. He said, “There is a young man who works in the office with me. He knows I’m a Mormon, but I have never told him why. I would like to invite him over, with his wife, for supper some night. After supper we will have something to talk about.”
To make this story short, he wrote me a two-page letter telling me the joy he had had in leading this man and his wife into the waters of baptism. I have since met them down in Houston. I believe he is now the stake president of the Sunday School. (LeGrand Richards, “Be a Missionary,” New Era, [May 1980]: 33).
I feel sorry for the man or the woman who has never experienced the sweet joy which comes to the missionary who proclaims the gospel of Jesus Christ, who brings honest souls to a knowledge of the truth, and who hears the expressions of gratitude and thanksgiving that come from the hearts of those who have been brought by his labor to a comprehension of life eternal. So also do I feel sorrow for those who have never experienced the sweet joy resulting from reaching out their hands and helping those who were needy. Assuredly there is more blessing [that] comes to us from giving than in accumulating; there is no question of this in my mind. There is also more blessing [that] comes to us in going forth to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, and laboring for the salvation of the souls of men, than can possibly come to us by merely having a knowledge of the truth of our religion, and then remaining at home to mingle and labor in the ordinary affairs of life, and accumulate the wealth of this world that perishes with the using. One great trouble is that we ofttimes lose sight of what is the most valuable labor for us to perform, the labor that will be most pleasing in the sight of our Heavenly Father. (Heber J. Grant, Gospel Standards, comp. G. Homer Durham, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book,1941, p. 104).