We’ve all seen them: young men in dark suits, white shirts, and ties, often on bicycles or walking the streets of our hometowns. Or perhaps we’ve answered the door to find a pair of young women in conservative skirts and shoes, scriptures in hand, offering to share a message about Jesus Christ. Missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, sometimes called the “Mormon Church” by the media, come in many shapes, sizes, colors, and ages, but they all have one thing in common: a burning desire to share their love for their Savior, Jesus Christ, and the knowledge they have of His gospel as taught by His Church on the earth today.
Who can Be a Mormon Missionary?
Latter-day Saints (Mormons) are encouraged to serve missions at various times during their lives. Mormon young men are taught from an early age that the Lord wants them to serve a mission when they reach the age of 19 if they are physically and financially able to do so. They spend their teenage years preparing for their missions by studying the scriptures, getting a good education, and saving their money so they can afford to spend two years spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ during their young adulthood. Young women, also, frequently prepare for and serve missions, although they must be 21 years of age to receive a mission call and typically only serve for 18 months. Other Mormon single adults often serve as missionaries, as do older couples. All missionaries serve as unpaid volunteers and are responsible for their own expenses during their missions, although family members, friends, and congregations frequently contribute to the cause.
Missionaries serve throughout the world, wherever they are allowed to preach. There are more than 50,000 full-time Mormon missionaries serving today. Many serve in their own countries, speaking their native languages; others travel across the world to preach the gospel in one of many foreign languages, which they may learn in as little as four to eight weeks in an immersive course offered at one of several missionary training centers throughout the world. Some missionaries go from door to door, teaching anyone who would like to listen. Some missionaries serve as tour guides at church historical sites, or in visitors centers. Some missionaries serve in temples, or mission offices. Still others serve humanitarian missions, reaching out to improve others’ lives by offering medical care or other expertise.
If you were to ask missionaries why they serve, all would mention their love for the Lord, Jesus Christ, and their desire to help others of God’s children feel His love for them. Missionaries teach the basics of the gospel of Jesus Christ: faith, repentance, baptism by immersion, and the gift of the Holy Ghost. They teach that keeping God’s commandments leads to happiness and peace in this life and in the life to come. Mormon missionaries also teach about the restoration of the original Christian church, as organized by Jesus and by His apostles, through the modern-day prophet Joseph Smith. Missionaries introduce the teachings of modern prophets as well, and the teachings about the Savior found in The Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ, which is the religious record of an ancient people who lived in the Americas both before and during the time of Christ’s mission on the earth. Missionaries know that by understanding the truth about Jesus Christ, God’s children on the earth today can make the choices that lead to happiness and peace.
Mormon missionaries feel a deep love for the people they seek to serve. Far away from home and family, they have left behind jobs and education, recreation and romantic interests to labor daily at their own expense to share the gospel of Christ. Nothing makes a missionary happier than to have the chance to testify to you. The next time you see missionaries, think about inviting them in. Offer them a drink or a sandwich, and listen to what they have to say. It will make their day–and it just might make yours as well.
The scriptures are collections of testimonies of the prophets, narrative events of the people who have served God, and prophecies given for the future. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (misnamed by many people as the Mormon Church) believes in the holy scriptures which have already been written, as well as in other scriptures to come.
There are four basic books of scripture that The Church of Jesus Christ uses which testify of the existence of God, the Plan of Salvation, and the divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ. These are known as the “Standard Works” and comprise the Mormon scriptures. These four books include the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ; the Holy Bible; the Doctrine and Covenants; and the Pearl of Great Price. One of the fundamental beliefs of The Church of Jesus Christ says, “We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God” (“Articles of Faith of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” 8).
Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ
The Book of Mormon, which is regarded by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day saints as another testament of Jesus Christ, helps the Bible in clarifying some precious truths. The Book of Mormon is the keystone of the LDS Church, in that the Church stands or falls with the truthfulness of the book.
The Book of Mormon is a volume of holy scripture comparable to the Bible. It is a record of God’s dealings with the ancient inhabitant of the Americas and contains the fulness of the everlasting gospel.
The book was written by many ancient prophets by the spirit of prophecy and revelation. Their words, written on gold plates, were quoted and abridged by a prophet-historian named Mormon. The record gives an account of two great civilizations. One came from Jerusalem in 600 B.C., and afterward separated into two nations, known as the Nephites and the Lamanites. . . . and they are among the ancestors of the American Indians.
The crowing event recorded in the Book of Mormon is the personal ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ among the Nephites soon after his resurrection. It puts forth the doctrines of the gospel, outlines the plan of salvation, and tells men what they must do to gain peace in this life and eternal salvation in the life to come.
After Mormon completed his writings, he delivered the account to his son Moroni, who added a few words of his own and hid up the plates in the hill Cumorah. On September 21, 1823, the same Moroni, then a glorified, resurrected being, appeared to the Prophet Joseph Smith and instructed him relative to the ancient record and its destined translation into the English language (Introduction of the Book to the Mormon).
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints regards the Bible as holy scripture; it is considered sacred and is the word of God. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints encourages everyone to read and to study the teachings of the ancient prophets and of the Savior found in the Holy Bible. The word “bible” is of Greek origin, being derived from ta biblia, meaning “the books.” It is a divine library composed of many books rather than being a single book. The Bible admonishes all people to strive to apply the teachings found in it in their lives.
The most important teachings of those in the Bible are about the gospel, the life, and ministry of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. There are so many Bible verses that illustrate the divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ and His gospel, both in the Old and New Testaments. For example, Isaiah speaks of a Messiah who would come in the meridian of time and be the Savior of the world. Isaiah also said,
And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord; And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked. And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins (Isaiah 11:1–5).
The Book of Mormon and the Bible complement each other in establishing vital truths. For example, the Savior mentioned other sheep he had. He said, “And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd” (John 10:16).
Soon after His resurrection and during His ministry with the Nephites in the Book of Mormon, Christ said:
Neither at any time hath the Father given me commandment that I should tell unto them concerning the other tribes of the house of Israel, whom the Father hath led away out of the land. This much did the Father command me, that I should tell unto them: That other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. And now, because of stiffneckedness and unbelief they understood not my word; therefore I was commanded to say no more of the Father concerning this thing unto them. But, verily, I say unto you that the Father hath commanded me, and I tell it unto you, that ye were separated from among them because of their iniquity; therefore it is because of their iniquity that they know not of you” (3 Nephi 15:15–19).
The Church also declares, “We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God” (“Articles of Faith of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” 9).
Doctrine and Covenants
The Doctrine and Covenants is a collection of divine revelations and inspired declarations given for the establishment and regulation of the kingdom of God on the earth in the last days. Although most of the sections are directed to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the messages, warnings, and exhortations are for the benefit of all mankind and contain an invitation to all people everywhere to hear the voice of the Lord Jesus Christ, speaking to them for their temporal well-being and their everlasting salvation.
The Doctrine and Covenants is unique because it is not a translation of an ancient document, but is of modern origin and was given of God through his chosen prophets for the restoration of his holy work and the establishment of the kingdom of God on the earth in these days (Introduction to the Doctrine and Covenants).
Doctrine and Covenants is a treasure for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, outlining both the history of the restored church in our day and the revelations of God to His prophets concerning the organization and structure of that church.
Pearl of Great Price
The Pearl of Great Price is a selection of choice materials touching many significant aspects of the faith and doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. These items were produced by the Prophet Joseph Smith and were published in the Church periodicals of his day.
The first collection of materials carrying the title Pearl of Great Price was made in 1851 by Elder Franklin D. Richards, then a member of the Council of the Twelve and president of the British Mission. Its purpose was to make more readily accessible some important articles that had had limited circulation in the time of Joseph Smith. As Church membership increased throughout Europe and America, there was a need to make these items available. The Pearl of Great Price received wide use and subsequently became a standard work of the Church by action of the First Presidency and the general conference in Salt Lake City on 10 October 1880 (Introduction to the Pearl of Great Price).
It includes selections from the Book of Moses, the Book of Abraham, the Articles of Faith of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, part of Joseph Smith’s translation of the book of Matthew, and Joseph Smith—History.
Through his prophets, the Lord admonished us to read and study the scriptures. “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me” (John 5:39).
Roy Patrick is currently working as a Call Center Agent in the Philippines. He served a full-time mission in San Francisco, CA. His family is one of the pioneers of the LDS Church in Panay Island, Philippines.