Monday, February 11, 2008

One Million LDS Missionaries And Counting

Many members missed a historic moment in the annals of LDS Missionary work. In June 2007 we passed the one millionth missionary called. It was also appropriate that one of greatest missionary apostles of this dispensation M. Russell Ballard held a special ceremony next to the Samuel Smith Bust after the Mission Presidents' Seminar at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah. The event was broadcast on the local channels but didn't appear in print until the December 2007 issue of the Liahona.

President Gordon B. Hinckley addressed the 118 attendees at the New Mission Presidents' Seminar saying: "We have made great progress in our missionary work in recent years. We have more missionaries—and more effective missionaries. It is reliably estimated that a million missionaries have served since the organization of the Church.”

M. Russell Ballard clarified: "It is not possible to pinpoint exactly who the millionth missionary is. We do know that young men and women, senior sisters, and couples have volunteered to serve at their own or family expense in spreading this message to 145 nations and territories.”

Elder Ballard gave a few examples of the sacrifice of some of the missionaries called: "A young Peruvian sister grilled hamburgers at a street cart to finance her mission in her home country. A young elder from India served in Toronto, Canada, and a retired couple left children and grandchildren to help dig clean water wells in West Africa. Missionaries serve where they are assigned, not knowing beforehand where in the world that may be.”

He continued, "In fact, the work these volunteer missionaries perform is as diverse as the missionaries themselves. On any given day missionaries are working on everything from assisting with humanitarian projects and helping others trace their genealogy to helping with public affairs efforts and teaching the restored gospel of Jesus Christ."

Elder Ballard said of these missionaries: “From personal experience I can tell you that they study, they pray, they worry intensely about each child of God and especially the souls of those they are able to teach. They face rejection and sometimes verbal abuse. But they soldier on. They serve, they help others, and they go the extra mile to lift and bless people in all walks of life and in all human conditions.”

It is amazing how much was accomplished by our million missionaries as we also passed the thirteen million member mark in December 2007.

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