More than fifty years ago I said goodbye to my then-boyfriend, now husband, as he boarded a train for the first leg of his missionary journey to Florida. More than twenty-five years ago I said goodbye to my oldest son and watched him walk through the door as he embarked on his mission to Tempe, Arizona. Five years later I said goodbye to my youngest son as he began his mission to Salt Lake City, Utah. About five weeks I ago I said goodbye to my oldest grandson as he started his mission, the first missionary of the next generation in our family.
My mind has often gone to missionaries and missionary work over the past few months as my grandson received and accepted his call, prepared to enter the Missionary Training Center, and then said goodbye to his family and friends for the next two years. I have often thought of my grandson as I studied the missionary service of Alma and the Apostle Paul. Today I began my studies about Ammon and his brothers on their mission to the Lamanites.
There are numerous similarities among all these missionaries. They were all willing to accept the call as a missionary when it came. Some of the calls came by divine means, some came by letters from the First Presidency, and the last one came by way of email. They all knew that they were called to testify of Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice. They all fasted, prayed, and studied the scriptures in order to know the teachings of Christ and what they should share. They all battled homesickness and struggled in some ways, yet they all continued to serve the Lord and to do what they had been called to do.
I know that the Lord loves His missionaries, and I know that He blesses them in the ways that they need. Sometimes He sends instructions and comfort by way of human beings. Other times, He sends personal revelation by way of the Holy Ghost. In Paul’s case, the Savior visited him in prison and promised him that he would yet testify of Christ in Rome.
Before Christ ascended into heaven, He instructed His disciples, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matthew 28:19). Those instructions are given to His disciples today. Then-Elder Dallin H. Oaks taught, “To proclaim the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ is a fundamental principle of the Christian faith…. Applying the Savior’s directions to our day, modern prophets have challenged each of us to share the gospel” (“Sharing the Gospel,” Ensign, Nov. 2001, 7).
President David O. McKay said the same thing in plainer words, “Every member a missionary.” A few years later President Spencer W. Kimball asked members to lengthen our strides in missionary service and pray for the doors of nations to open to preaching the gospel. A few more years passed, and President Gordon B. Hinckley taught us that we each have a responsibility for sharing the gospel with all the people of the earth.
I, too, wish to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with as many people as I can. I know that we have a Heavenly Father who loves each one of us. I know that Jesus Christ is His Son and the Savior of the world. I know that God speaks to prophets and Apostles on earth today. I know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord’s church upon earth today. I invite all to listen to whatever missionary brings the truth of the gospel to you. I know that you will be blessed for doing.