Sunday, October 7, 2007


Joseph F. Smith British Mission Liverpool 1861, age 23

Then we come to the great missionary program of this Church, and there is not anything like it in all this world. I tell you, the sacrifices that men and women and their children can help carry this gospel message to every land and every clime must be a most wonderful, acceptable thing to our Father in heaven because he has indicated his interest in carrying the gospel to the nations of the earth. (LeGrand Richards, Conference Report, April 1958, p. 42).

When the servants of God have gone forth in this generation they have gone like fishers and hunters among the poor and lowly, seeking for souls of men which are just as precious in the sight of God as the souls of the rich, and the learned, and the noble, as they are called. They are the ones the Gospel net has gathered, because they have been willing to listen to the truth. They have been willing to sacrifice that which they had for the sake of the truth. (George Q. Cannon, Salt Lake Tabernacle, 18 September 1892).

We have been and are, willing to make sacrifice for those who have not heard the truth. Why, this mere handful of Latter-day Saints sends forth missionaries into the world by the hundreds. Whey do they do this? It does not help them financially. They do it because it is a duty they owe their fellow men, and therefore, when they are called they go forth gladly. They do not ask what their salary will be nor where the money will come from. If they have the means, they are willing to make the sacrifice and spend their time in this labor of love amongst their fellow men. (Anthon H. Lund, Conference Report, April 1905, p. 14).

Do the elders of Israel when they go out into the world to preach the gospel hold out flattering inducements to those whom they meet to become Latter-day Saints? No. On the contrary, they tell them that if they embrace the gospel they may expect that their friends and associates will turn against them, and that their names will be cast out as evil. That is the kind of promise they make to them. (Heber J. Grant, Gospel Standards, Salt Lake City: Improvement Era, 1943, p.102).

With faith and courage, we can find those who will embrace the gospel. No missionary should go with any preconceived notion that teaching and baptizing is beyond the realm of possibility. They should go into the mission field believing they can build the Church. (M. Russell Ballard, “Dispelling notions that gospel is hard,” Church News [Saturday, 16 September 2006]: 6).

Now let us stop for just a moment and ask whether our Christianity is a "Dynamic or a dying force." We are wiling to go on missions; we are willing to make any sacrifice for the Church; we are wiling to subordinate any personal interests to the furtherance of the interests of the church. This is the dynamic power of the Church. (Henry D. Moyle, Church News, (January 12, 1963): 13).

Yes, this work requires sacrifice, it requires effort, it requires courage to speak out and faith to try. This cause does not need critics; it does not need doubters. It needs men and women of solemn purpose. As Paul wrote to Timothy: “God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

“Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord” (2 Timothy 1:7–8).

I wish that every member of this church would put those words where he might see them every morning as he begins his day. They would give us the courage to speak up, they would give us the faith to try, they would strengthen our conviction of the Lord Jesus Christ. I believe that more miracles would happen over the earth.

I know that God lives, that Jesus is the Christ, that this is their holy work, and I plead with you and with the God of heaven that we shall have the power and the faith and the devotion to roll it forward to its great destiny. (Gordon B. Hinckley, “‘Be Not Afraid, Only Believe’,” Ensign, [February 1996]: 2).

The First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve extend our love to you, pray the Lord will bless you and that the peace of the Lord will ultimately come to your hearts.” He added, “It doesn’t matter how many missionaries we have, when we lose one the whole Church mourns and our hearts go out to the parents, to the siblings, and to the priesthood leaders over such a tragic loss. (M. Russell Ballard, “‘This Work Will Continue’: Elder Ballard Discusses Missionary Safety,” Liahona, [June 2006]: N3–N4).

The force that impels the Mormon missionary to make the sacrifice represented by this vast unequalled missionary system is his sincere belief, his knowledge, that his message is the priceless gift of undoubted truth, God-made, intended for all and
not for a favored few; and that his message has the power, if used, to enrich mankind beyond measure in daily happiness on earth and in the life hereafter. Moreover, he is convinced that to help his fellow men, unselfishly, to find and tread the path to daily happiness, is a religious obligation which will yield him unbounded joy. Truth must be shared, else it dies. (John A. Widtsoe, Man and the Dragon, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1945, p. 181).

There is great power in this work, spiritual power. The ordinary member of the Church, like you, having received the gift of the Holy Ghost by confirmation, can do the work of the Lord.

Years ago a friend told this experience. He was 17 years old and with his companion stopped at a cottage in the southern states. It was his first day in the mission field and was his first door. A gray-haired woman stood inside the screen and asked what they wanted. His companion nudged him to proceed. Frightened and somewhat tongue-tied, he finally blurted out, “As man is God once was, and as God is man may become.”

Strangely enough, she was interested and asked where he got that. He answered, “It’s in the Bible.” She left the door for a moment, returned with her Bible. Commenting that she was a minister of a congregation, she handed it to him and said, “Here, show me.”

He took the Bible and nervously thumbed back and forth through it. Finally he handed it back saying, “Here, I can’t find it. I’m not even sure that it’s in there, and even if it is, I couldn’t find it. I’m just a poor farm boy from out in Cache Valley in Utah. I haven’t had much training. But I come from a family where we live the gospel of Jesus Christ. And it’s done so much for our family that I’ve accepted a call to come on a mission for two years, at my own expense, to tell people how I feel about it.”

After half a century, he could not hold back the tears as he told me how she pushed open the door and said, “Come in, my boy. I’d like to hear what you have to say.” (Boyd K. Packer, “The Quest for Spiritual Knowledge,” New Era, [January 2007]: 7).

One sister came into my office a few weeks ago for me to interview her missionary boy, and she said; "Bishop, I have a son in Switzerland. I have a daughter in the Great Lakes mission. Here's my last boy." She was not very well clad. And I look at her and said, "Sister, can you do it?"

She replied: "We will make it some way."

That is the kind of faith that is going to carry the gospel message to every land and every clime. And that kind of faith has been in this church form the very beginning, and it will continue because it is God's work, and that unseen power that motivates it will continue to carry it on. (LeGrand Richards, Conference Report, April 1951, p.43).

I mention José Garcia from Old Mexico. Born in poverty but nurtured in faith. José prepared for a mission call. I was present the day his recommendation was received. There appeared the statement, “Brother Garcia will serve at great sacrifice to his family, for he is the means of much of the family support. He has but one possession—a treasured stamp collection—which he is willing to sell, if necessary, to help finance his mission.”

President Kimball listened attentively as this statement was read to him, and then he responded: “Have him sell his stamp collection. Such sacrifice will be to him a blessing.” Then this loving prophet said, “Each month at Church headquarters we receive thousands of letters from all parts of the world. See that we save these stamps and provide them to José at the conclusion of his mission. He will have, without cost, the finest stamp collection of any young man in Mexico.”

There seemed to echo from another place, another time, the experience of the Master: “And he looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury. And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites. And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than you all” (Luke 21:1-3). “For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living” (Mark 12:44). (Thomas S. Monson, Be Your Best Self, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1979, p. 68).

It has not only cost the services of men, it has cost sacrifice on the part of many thousands of wives and mothers and fathers at home who have borne the extra burden. Many have suffered themselves to be denied the necessities of life, in order that they might maintain their son in the mission field. And not only that, many of these precious sons have given their very lives to the great cause. We have held back nothing from this great call that the Lord has made upon us to carry these glad tidings to all men. (Melvin J. Ballard, Conference Report, April 1925, p. 132).

You are making a sacrifice, but it is not a sacrifice because you will get more than you give up, you will gain more than you give, and it will prove to be an investment with tremendous returns. It will prove to be a blessing instead of a sacrifice. No one who ever served this work as a missionary, who gave his or her best efforts, need worry about making a sacrifice because there will come blessings into the life of that individual for as long as he or she lives. I have not the slightest doubt about that. (Gordon B. Hinckley, Hawaii Honolulu Missionary Meeting, 17 February 1996).

The young man who goes into the world preaching the gospel of peace loses himself and saves himself. Missionary work is one of the great miracles of our time. A transformation comes into the lives of boys. Under the leadership of good mission presidents, they subject themselves to the discipline of the mission field, and that in itself becomes a remarkable blessing. They establish habits of work. They discover the values of life that are most important. They develop in their hearts a fervent testimony that God lives and that Jesus is the Christ. They develop a new and wonderful sense of the meaning of the priesthood. The future of the Church will be so much the stronger by reason of the missionary service of our young men because of the tremendous strength with which they will return to carry out their activities in life, including service in the Church. A mission is not an expense. It is a great investment. (Gordon B. Hinckley, Regional Representatives Seminar, 5 April 1985; Ensign, [May 1985]: 96-97).

Your mission is something you will always remember fondly—-worth any sacrifice you may have to make. (David B. Haight, “A Spiritual Adventure,” New Era, [June 2000]: 6).

The Savior gave of Himself, gave His very life that we might live. To sacrifice that others might be blessed was His word, His work, His life. Sacrifice is the evidence of true love. Without sacrifice love is not manifest. Without sacrifice there is no real love, or kindness.... We love no one unless we sacrifice for him. We can measure the degree of love that we possess for any man or cause, by the sacrifice we make for him or it. (John A. Widtsoe, Conference Report, April 1943).

Now, you Elders who understand the principles of the kingdom of God, what would you not give, do, or sacrifice, to assist in building up His kingdom upon the earth? Says one, 'I would do anything in my power, anything that the Lord would help me to do, to build up His kingdom.' Says another, 'I would sacrifice all my property.' Wonderful indeed! Do you not know that the possession of your property is like a shadow, or the dew of the morning before the noon-day sun, that you cannot have any assurance of its control for a single moment! It is the unseen hand of Providence that controls it. In short, what would you sacrifice? The Saints sacrifice everything; but, strictly speaking, there is no sacrifice about it. If you give a penny for a million of gold!

A handful of earth for a planet! A temporary worn out tenement for one glorified, that will exist, abide, and continue to increase throughout a never ending eternity, what a sacrifice to be sure! (Brigham Young, (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, London: Latter-day Saints Book Depot, 1855-1886, 1:114-115).

These young men and young women are making the same kinds of sacrifices missionaries have always had to make; in some instances, the depth of sacrifice is very touching. Some of them are assisted financially, but no missionary is called who does not either by himself or with his family make a significant sacrifice toward his financial support. This great upsurge of local or national missionaries in of vital importance since visas for missionaries from the United States are not easily obtained from many nations. Were it not for this local missionary movement, our work might have been brought to a relative standstill in some areas. ("Status Report on Missionary Work: A Conversation with Thomas S. Monson," Ensign, [October 1977]: 8-10).

“Deciding to go on a mission wasn’t easy. Having a strong passion for the game of baseball made it hard.”

Numerous acceptance letters speak of sacrifice. The young man quoted above was well on his way to fulfilling a life-long dream to play baseball in college, and then perhaps enjoy a career in professional baseball. After ponderous and prayerful thought, however, the answer was certain: he was to serve the Lord. Once the decision was made, his priorities in life became clear.

The Prophet Joseph Smith stated, “It is through the medium of the sacrifice of all earthly things that men do actually know that they are doing the things that are well pleasing in the sight of God” (Lectures on Faith, 6:7). The thought of giving up something we dearly treasure can be difficult, even painful. Yet the Lord abundantly compensates for any sacrifice.

Prospective missionaries write about giving up a prized car, a girlfriend, music, a lucrative job, and many other things. Too many allow such worldly treasures to blind them to spiritual opportunity and divert them from their foreordained mission. On the other hand, we are continually amazed and gratified by those who forsake all to serve the Lord. (David B. Haight, “A Spiritual Adventure,” New Era [June 2000]: 6).