Singing sensation David Archuleta, whose second-place finish in the 2007-2008 American Idol competition made a star out of the wholesome then-16-year-old with the amazing voice, has put his lucrative career on hold to serve as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which is sometimes referred to as the “Mormon Church” in the media. Archuleta, now 21, is at the age when most young Mormon men leave their families, friends, education, and careers behind to serve for two years at their own expense, preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ in one of over 340 missions world-wide. Sources close to Archuleta say that he will be serving in Chile.
Mormons believe strongly in the admonition of Jesus Christ to his early apostles to “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” Mormon missionaries have been sent out regularly since the earliest days of the Church’s existence. Currently, the Church has over 55,000 full-time missionaries serving throughout the world, with another 22,000 in various Church-service missions such as providing humanitarian aid or acting as guides at historic sites. Since the 1960s, every worthy and able young man has been encouraged to serve as a missionary during young adulthood, and many young women serve as well. Archuleta’s sacrifice in putting his career on hold for two years to serve a mission at his own expense is just one example of the many sacrifices made by young Mormon men and women as they choose to spend their time and money in the service of God.
The Missionary Training Center
Archuleta’s missionary service will begin with a four- to eight-week stint in one of the Church’s Missionary Training Centers (MTC for short), where he will study Spanish, Mormon doctrine, and teaching methods. Missionaries find the MTC to be a challenging and rewarding experience, full of spiritual and intellectual growth. They have the opportunity to learn from Church leaders and even to sing from time to time, as was demonstrated by Archuleta’s brief appearance as a member of a large MTC choir during the Church’s recent General Conference. Mostly, however, a missionary’s time in the MTC is a period of intense training in preparation for their assignment to teach the gospel to those who will hear their message.
After the MTC, missionaries are flown to the area of the world where they will serve. Greeted by their Mission President at the airport, they are assigned a companion, usually one who has been in the area for a while and is comfortable with the language and with the missionary lifestyle. They are then sent out with their companion to settle in to an apartment and begin preaching the gospel. It can be a little overwhelming to a new missionary to attempt to communicate in a new language, which frequently seems to bear little resemblance to the language they just studied at the MTC, and adjust to a new culture. Nevertheless, most new missionaries quickly develop a deep love for the people they serve that overcomes their cultural and language difficulties.
Giving Back to God
David Archuleta, like many Mormon missionaries, views his missionary service as a chance to develop a closer relationship with his Heavenly Father, and to “give something back” for the many blessings he has received. Archuleta has asked his fans to honor his choice to serve a mission by respecting his privacy and allowing him some personal time with God. In a video blog released just before leaving on his mission, Archuleta spoke about his desire for privacy as he begins his time of dedicated service to the Lord:
It’s a decision everyone knows about, but it’s a very personal thing. I wanted to keep it that way, so I hope you guys respect that. I’ve been able to bring you guys on this journey so far, but I hope that you guys will respect that this will be more of a personal thing; that I’m trying to focus on something else now, not my career, not trying to do music.
During his farewell address to members of his local congregation in Salt Lake City, David Archuleta sang an old Mormon hymn about spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ to every nation:
The spirit of God like a fire is burning;
The latter-day glory begins to come forth.
The visions and blessings of old are returning,
And angels are coming to visit the earth.
We’ll sing and we’ll shout with the armies of heaven
Hosanna, hosanna to God and the Lamb.
Let glory to them in the highest be given,
Henceforth, and forever, Amen and amen!
According to one source, there wasn’t a dry eye in the room. The people of Chile are lucky to have such a talented, amazing young man sacrifice his time, money, and talents to come and teach them about Jesus Christ. Maybe they’ll even get to hear him sing.