Why does a missionary have to be assigned by inspiration?

Why does a missionary have to be assigned by inspiration?

Question

 

Dear Gramps,

Why does an apostle have to assign each missionary to a particular mission by inspiration?  Why doesn’t the church just administratively assign everyone to wherever there’s a need?  If you’re willing to serve, then what does it matter?

Robert

 

Answer

 

Dear Robert,

The problem with your question is that it doesn’t appropriately distinguish the meaning of “have to”. Because, reasonably speaking, they don’t “have to”. They could, of course, entirely ignore the Lord on the matter and just set about acting like the corporation that so many naysayers accuse them of being.

But this is not the Lord’s way. It is one of the core beliefs in the Church that:

“We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.” – 5th Articles of Faith (emphasis mine)

 

So realistically, depending on what we mean by “have to”, we do, after all, “have to”. Or, as the Article puts it. We “must”. But as with all things in the gospel, agency could, theoretically, be exercised to go against God’s will and send people out without the use of prophecy by those in authority to preach. But if we did this, then of course we would be going out without God’s authority, or as it is put in Hebrews 5:4, we would be, inadvertently, taking this honour unto ourselves.

Let’s not confuse ourselves too much here though. Being called by prophecy (revelation) does not necessarily mean that they have to be called by the Twelve or the Prophet himself. That is the current practice. Theoretically, I can visualize, within mine or my children’s lifetime, the Church having twice the number of missionaries it does now.  160K missionaries would mean an average 1,538 new calls each week.  If each missionary assignment takes only thirty seconds, that’s just shy of 13 apostle-hours per week; and I think there’s a very good chance that under such circumstances the Church would start doing missionary assignments in some other way. But whatever way that might entail, it would still be by the spirit of prophecy, and not by the spirit of bureaucracy.

I’ve heard so many stories that were just amazing as to the places that missionaries are assigned.  I personally know of one that was sent to the Eugene, Oregon, mission and due to that has been able to teach his mother’s biological family.  She was adopted out.

Or the sister missionary that was sent to the same mission that her dad went to and was actually able to teach some people her dad had taught but was transferred before they got baptized.

I think there is so much inspiration into where missionaries go that basic information on their paperwork just doesn’t show.

Here are two other experiences I have heard that I think are neat regarding inspiration:

1) A couple decided to serve and said they did not want to serve in a particular area.  The reason, her son went missing and they never heard from him and did not know if he was alive or dead.  They received the call, and she was called to where her son went missing.  They declined and didn’t serve.  They attempted again, and were called to the same mission.  They accepted.  They served in a prison.  At one point, as she didn’t know the language she said in English, “Why is this at all important, why am I here.  Why does it matter?” One of the prisoners said, “It matters to me.”  This prisoner ended up being her son who had ignorantly broken a law he was unfamiliar with and was placed in jail.

2) A story of a couple who had specified they did not want to serve a proselyting mission.  They were called to a proselyting mission.  My bishop explained that the first street they chose to knock (even the first home), was the home of their son whom they hadn’t seen in 20 years (they had no clue either where he was), and who had fallen away from the Church.  He didn’t specify the outcome, only that they were reunited with their son.

Now, to be clear, I don’t think these stories are common, or even necessarily the core reason why we must be called of prophecy. But they do show that the Lord’s hand is involved, and we need to trust in Him.

This is the Lord’s work. He is in charge. He sends us to serve where He will have us serve.

Of this I testify.

 

Gramps

 

P.S. Here’s an interesting recent Church article and a couple of good photos that discuss the process a bit.

 

 

How can I learn about the church as a teenager?

How can I learn about the church as a teenager?

Question

Gramps,

Hello. I am 16 and I have zero affiliation with the church. I was interested in learning about the Mormons, so I got a copy of the Book of Mormon. I have read part of it and I would like to learn more about it with others. Should I go to my nearest church and speak with them? Am I allowed at age 16 to even go by myself? I can take the bus down there easily. I am trusted by my parents to not do anything bad. What do you think? Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Kevin

 

Answer

Kevin,

At 16 you are a minor.  As such the Church will respect both the laws and your parent’s right to choose what is best for you.  If your parents give permission, you can very much attend church and even join.  But if your parents choose not to give permission, then the Church’s position is for you to honor your parent’s wishes in the matter.  If they oppose, then you might need to wait until you are legally an adult.  This is not to say that you can’t respectfully try to get them to change their minds.  But no matter what your parents choose, your best option for dealing with them is to show them by example how following this path is helping you become a better person.

For continuing this path going to Church is a good option.  However the Church has missionaries that are willing to come to you and meet you wherever you are, including talking to your parents about what you are looking into and what you will be learning.   Mormon.org would be a place where you can contact the missionaries and learn more about the Church through a website they set up for people like you who are looking into the Church.

Gramps

What mission advice can you give me?

What mission advice can you give me?

Question

Gramps,

I will soon be serving a mission in the Roseville, California English speaking mission on August 6th. Other than the classic , “forget yourself and go to work”, “the mission is the best two years ‘for’ your life” and all other stereotypical mission advice, what would you tell me? I leave to the Provo MTC August 6th.

Elder

 

Answer

Elder,

If I knew you personally, I could give you more detailed advice based on what I know of you, your strengths and your weakness.  Trying to give you non-  stereotypical advice when I don’t know you is very hard, because good advice remains good advice even when it hangs around long enough to become a stereotype.

I will start with this 1991 conference talk by Dennis B. Neuenschwander.

He gives lots of very good advice (I really like the part about obedience).

I am going add to all that  “Remember it is all about Love.”

You should be going on a mission because you love your Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and want to do their will.  You can have other reasons of course but love of your Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ needs to be a foundational reason.  If not, then you need to get it there as soon as you can.

Then remember to love everyone you work with.  Love your companions, love the members, love the investigators.  In every way try to be like you know Christ would be with these people.  Try to do for these people what you think Christ would do for them. And, of course, realize you will mess up, and you will make mistakes.  So also remember to love yourself the way you know Christ would love you.

I promise you that if you constantly strive to do this, the Lord will consider your mission a success.

Gramps

Would I have to convert if I married a man that is LDS?

Would I have to convert if I married a man that is LDS?

Question

Gramps,

I am not a Mormon but am just starting a relationship with a man that is LDS.  I have read some literature on the topic but could you please tell me if there is anything out of the norm (as per other religions) with regards to the Mormon faith?  If the relationship developed into marriage, would I be expected to convert?  I know as per your faith that once a man and woman are married, that as per your faith, they are united for eternity but how does that work if the man’s first wife passed away?

Tammy

 

Answer

Tammy,

Many of your questions about expectations are going to have to be answered by the man that you are starting a relationship with.  You will need to find out what his expectations are concerning the religious beliefs of the woman he is interested in.  I can not answer that, but I can give you more general answers from the view of the Church.

The Church of Jesus Christ welcomes all to its Sunday services.  Anyone can attend, in fact the only thing that is restricted to members only is going into the temples (We have both churches and temples) and even then most temples have visitor centers, and very beautiful and peaceful grounds that you could wander around.  Should you go the members might take that as an expression of interest on your part and invite you to learn more.  You can decline this invitation if you wish and still stay.

The Church teaches things like the Law of Chasity (no sex before marriage), Word of Wisdom (No alcohol, coffee, tea, tobacco, or illegal drugs), and Serving others.  All of which could very likely come up as you pursue a relationship with a LDS man (Greatly depending on the faithfulness and activity of the man in question).  You might consider some of those to be out of the norm.

Now to your questions about getting married.  The Church recognizes any marriage between a man and a woman that is legally and lawful entered into. There are members married to non members in the Church.  The Church would of course like them to all be members of course and so they will on occasion check to see if the non-member is interested.  But even those that are not interested are still welcome to come and join in the church activities.

That type of marriage is done until “Death do you part,”  which as is says means once you die the marriage is over.  The Church believes that these marriages can also be sealed by an ordinance in the temple.  This sealing gives the marriage the ability to last for “Time and all Eternity” if the people are faithful.   It is common in the Church for members to have both the legal and religious requirements done at the same time.  This can lead to members taking about temple marriages, or temple weddings as a short hand for legal marriage and sealing ordinance done together.  However they do not have to be done together a couple could wait years between them.

So how does this belief impact you?  Well the man you are interested in and might possibly marry, might very will be very interested in being with you for time and all eternity.  That can only happen if you are a member and the two of you get sealed in the temple.  Thus he could very well have that as an expectation for you. That expectation can manifest in many ways from him apply a great deal of pressure to you, to him being very patent and trusting in the Lord that you will come around when it is right for you.  Or any possibility in between.

As for the prior marriage that depends on if both marriages were sealed and if all three parties were faithful.  If that doesn’t happen then there is no promise given to the ones that did not and it resolves itself.  If both conditions are met then we have to acknowledge that mortally is messy, and that we see imperfectly.  A lot of people have theories and ideas but the bottom line is we need to have faith that God will sort it out in a way that is perfect for everyone.

Gramps

Does the church seek to convert those in same sex marriages?

Does the church seek to convert those in same sex marriages?

Question

Dear Gramps,

As  marriage equality becomes more common, will the church try to evangelize to these families and what might that look like? Theoretically, a happily married lesbian couple raising children wants to join the church. Can they simply become celibate within their marriage, if they feel able to commit to chastity? Or is it not just the sexual relationship, but the marriage itself that is considered sinful? Do they need to formally divorce and share custody of their children?

LM

 

Answer

LM,

When Christ commanded the disciples to “Go ye therefore into all the world”… he didn’t use the phrase “except these people”.  Remember in Acts where Christ came to Peter in a dream and commanded him to eat, “But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean.” (Acts 10:14).  We are commanded to welcome all to come unto Christ.

However, as we understand the Plan of Salvation, the gospel emphasizes the traditional family, with a mother and a father.  Other unions are not acceptable to the Lord or His Church, as our understanding of the Plan of Salvation now stands.

What is the Plan of Salvation?  The Father stated it himself in Moses 1:39 “For Behold, this is my work and my glory – to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.”  This means that the Father had a plan for how He wanted His children to enter into the world, and that was through a mother and a father, as He had married Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

Should a person or even a same-sex couple choose to join the Church, from my understanding, they will need to dissolve their union.  Any children would need to have shared custody.  This would be required in order to live in harmony with the doctrines the Church has laid out on the family.  They would need to be celibate, living outside of a marriage covenant that is legally and lawfully binding between a man and a woman.

One may believe that we could be encouraging the tearing apart of families with this doctrine.  I believe that it is putting a higher principle of living above one’s own desires.  All religious principles help us to elevate our views above what we say we want, to make us better people.

I could not imagine being a missionary today, and having to ask such a family to live the law of chastity as the Lord and the Church have defined it.  I could not imagine what it would be like to be in such a position to want to follow the Lord… and be told to give up what I should be valuing most.  It would take one of the biggest leaps of faith imaginable to forsake a lifestyle that promises happiness, to follow the Lord and His ways.  I would think they could not do it alone.  Those in such a circumstance would require the Holy Spirit, and a community of saints to truly help their transition to following the Lord.

With God, All Things Are Possible.

Gramps

Am I a failure as a missionary?

Am I a failure as a missionary?

Question

Dear Gramps,

I am serving a full time mission in England and have been working hard out here. Sadly I haven’t had a baptism out here and I am starting to feel like I am a failure.. Other missionaries are seeing things happen and I have friends in other missions getting baptisms every week. I know it is not all about the numbers but am I a failure if I dont baptize anyone on my mission? And what do I tell people who ask me ”Oh! How many people did you baptize?!”

Elder

 

Answer

Elder,

Your desire to bring people to the Lord through baptism is commendable and good.  Therefore your frustration at what you see as your ‘failure’ to do so is understandable.  But let’s take a moment to examine some other missionaries who might have considered themselves to be failures.

Let’s start with one I have mentioned before, Abinadi.  The Book of Mormon only records one convert for Abinadi, and Abinadi never knew it.  Yet we don’t consider Abinadi to be a failure.   Then there is Noah.  According to the Old Testament, Noah failed to convert anyone besides his own family, but we don’t think of him as a failure either.

Then there are many stories of missionaries who suffered a lot, which suffering could have easily given them the same kind of doubts that you are having before they had success.  They had to push through their doubts and endure the suffering before the Lord blessed them.

The Lord may have called you to serve more like those brave and honorable men than the brave and honorable men who brought hundreds to the Church through baptism.  If so then embrace it, and all will be well with you.

If you serve your mission to the best of your ability and faithfulness then the Lord will work miracles through you.  You might not ever see or know what the Lord did with your efforts in this lifetime, but you can trust that he will.  And once you know that the Lord has approved and accepted your efforts then you can answer questions about numbers however you like, because you will know you did well.

Gramps

How can I be the best missionary I can be?

How can I be the best missionary I can be?

Question

Dear Gramps,

I want to be the best missionary that I can be on my mission. I’m a recent convert; I’ve co-taught several lessons with the missionaries (as advised by Elder Bednar in “Becoming a Missionary”), have continued reading scriptures, am currently studying “Preach My Gospel”, and feel spiritually worthy to serve the Lord. However, I still feel inadequate and lackluster. I want to be the best instrument the Spirit can use. What do you suggest? How can I become the next Dan Jones?

Brother Brennan (more…)

Should serving a mission be done due to pressure?

Should serving a mission be done due to pressure?

Question

Dear Gramps,

I am a 19 year old girl who is feeling the intense pressure to serve a mission. I consider myself a very spiritual person, but I never felt like I wanted or needed to go. I am just starting to get a hold of my life, and although I understand that a mission could never be a wrong decision, I can’t help but feel like it’s not the best decision. If I go on a mission right now, the main reason for going would be pressure. Am I just making up excuses? Should I serve a mission, and if not, how do I tell people?

Kelsey (more…)

What is meant by the “washing of the feet” if rejected?

What is meant by the “washing of the feet” if rejected?

Question

Gramps,

In D&C 84:87-97 with emphasis on verse 92. “…cleanse your feet even with water, pure water, whether in heat or cold….”   Do missionaries carry this “pure water” with them or how do they accomplish this? In our Bible belt region of the country they get rejected far more than received. Thank you for being there and for your wonderful answers.

Ron (more…)

Struggling with SSA

Struggling with SSA

My son has SSA (Same Sex Attraction).  He does not act upon it. He wants to go on a mission. He has worked on worthiness and feels ready to go. We were told that he couldn’t go because he has SSA. In the Church Handbook of Instructions it says that individuals with SSA that are not living the gay lifestyle and are worthy can serve in the church. In applying for his mission we have been told that he can’t go because of his SSA. He had some sins to take care of but his home ward and stake leaders have told him he can go when wothy. His Young Adult Stake President says he can’t go on a regular mission with SSA. Can you tell me the church policy on this? This seems very wrong to me. Thank you.

Anonymous (more…)

Page 1 of 1112345...10...Last »
Copyright © 2015 Ask Gramps - Q and A about Mormon Doctrine. All Rights Reserved.
This website is not owned by or affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (sometimes called the Mormon or LDS Church). The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the position of the Church. The views expressed by individual users are the responsibility of those users and do not necessarily represent the position of the Church. For the official Church websites, please visit LDS.org or Mormon.org.

Pin It on Pinterest