Thy Kingdom Come: Why Mormon Missionaries Serve
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught His disciples how to pray. As an example, he offered the prayer that has become known as “The Lord’s Prayer.” It begins like this:
After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:9-10).
The first request that Jesus makes of our Father in Heaven is that His kingdom might come upon the earth. Since the Lord’s Prayer is the example Jesus gave us to follow when we pray, we too should be praying and working for God’s kingdom to come.
Mormon Missionaries: Every Member a Missionary
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, sometimes called the “Mormon Church” by the media, follow the admonition given by their leaders that every member be a missionary. At some point in their lives, nearly all Mormons plan on serving a full-time mission. The most common time for missionaries to serve is during their young adult years, when single young men and women set aside work, education, and romance to spend 18 months to 2 years teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. But missionary service is not limited to the young. Mormon missionaries can be married or single, young, middle-aged, or older. They can serve as proselyting missionaries, work in church offices, serve as guides at historic sites and visitors centers, or oversee Church humanitarian efforts. What unites all Latter-day Saint (Mormon) missionaries is their desire to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with others, and their willingness to sacrifice whatever is necessary in order to do so.
Mormon Missionaries Sacrifice to Serve
It does require a lot of sacrifice to be a full-time missionary. Since Mormon missionaries must support themselves financially while they serve, they and their families often prepare for years. Most Mormon youth and their parents save regularly not just for college, but in order to pay for full-time missions. Older adults save for missions in addition to retirement.
It is also a sacrifice to leave work and education behind to serve a mission. Romantic relationships are put on hold, and sometimes important family events are missed by missionaries who are far away from home. Prospective missionaries sacrifice their time as well, studying the scriptures and teachings of the Church daily so they will be prepared to teach and answer questions when the time comes. They work hard to maintain good health, good grades, and a good income. Young people and old refrain from activities that would break God’s commandments and prevent them from being ready to serve as missionaries.
The Rewards of Missionary Service
But missionary service is rewarding as well. Nearly all missionaries speak repeatedly of their deep love for the people whom they serve. They develop life-long friendships with people from other countries and cultures, frequently speaking other languages. Their relationships with the people they teach and those with whom they serve often remain strong for many years to come. It is not uncommon for a middle-aged Mormon to still pray for and correspond with friends from across the globe whom he first met as a 20-year-old young man, while serving a Mormon mission.
Mormon Belief in the Worth of Souls
The main reason members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are willing to leave everything behind and serve at their own expense as full-time missionaries is that they are convinced that each individual is a child of God, and a being of infinite worth. In the Doctrine and Covenants, a collection of revelations to modern-day prophets, Jesus Christ teaches the following:
Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God;
For, behold, the Lord your Redeemer suffered death in the flesh; wherefore he suffered the pain of all men, that all men might repent and come unto him.
And he hath risen again from the dead, that he might bring all men unto him, on conditions of repentance.
And how great is his joy in the soul that repenteth!
Wherefore, you are called to cry repentance unto this people.
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! (Doctrine and Covenants 18:10-15)
Thy Kingdom Come
By teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ through word and example, Mormon missionaries hope to save the world, one priceless individual at a time. God’s kingdom will come, and earth be like heaven, when the gospel of repentance and of love, as taught by Jesus Christ, governs the choices of individuals throughout the world. What would the world be like if every human being learned to “love thy neighbor as thyself” (Matthew 22:39
)? Mormon missionaries are working hard every day so that some day we might find out. The sacrifice is more than worth it.
Mormon Missionary Opportunities
The Worth of Souls
Meet With the Missionaries
New York Times: Mormon Missionaries in Uganda