In Doctrine and Covenants 133, the Lord reveals his will concerning the preaching of “the Gospel to the inhabitants of the earth” (headnote). In verse 8 he says, “Send forth the elders of my church unto the nations which are afar off; unto the islands of the sea; send forth unto foreign lands; call upon all nations.”
More than 50,000 missionaries (including couple missionaries) teach the gospel throughout the world. And individual members, each a part of the more than nine million members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, are asked to follow the counsel of President David O. McKay, who said, “Every member a missionary.”
Art depicting missionary work was only one of many topics featured by Latter-day Saint artists in the Third International Art Competition sponsored by the Museum of Church History and Art. Following are some of the entries focusing on missionary work.
Act Well Thy Part, stained glass by Tom Holdman of Orem, Utah, 1993. President David O. McKay first read the words “What e’er thou art, act well thy part” while serving as a missionary in Scotland in the years 1897–99. The words became as a motto to him and here surround a scene of the Scottish countryside.
Bridging Cultures, colored pencil on paper by Charlotte Mortimer of Salt Lake City, Utah, 1992. Couple missionaries make a difference. Here they play with children at a branch party high in the mountains of the Truk Islands of the Pacific.
Fellowship in the Deep South, acrylic on canvas by Peter Bleakley of Pembury, England, 1993. While serving a mission in Alabama, the artist was fascinated by the spiritual dimensions of ward dinners. Set in the Magnolia Branch of the Montgomery Alabama Stake, this painting takes the bright clothing of members and pours their diversity out onto the blue tablecloth, which represents the “water of life,” or the love of Christ that nourishes us.
Finding the Petrov Family, oil on panel by Steven E. McGinty of Murray, Utah, 1993. After visiting Russia twice in one year and seeing missionaries on the streets, the artist was overcome with the desire to teach the gospel he had felt as a missionary.
Elder Nahlé—Harvesting the Field, acrylic on paper by Marwan W. Nahlé of Beirut, Lebanon, 1991. A self-portrait of the artist as a missionary.
Ma‘ara, color woodcut by Blanche P. Wilson of Ogden, Utah, 1993. Ma‘ara, a mother in Savaii, Samoa, writes to her missionary son.
White Eagle’s Conversion, acrylic on canvas by Merilyn Paré Daggett of Seattle, Washington, 1993. The artist, shown here at left as a stake missionary with her companion, teaches White Eagle the first discussion in Longview, Washington.
Call to Service, acrylic on canvas by Carlos Matamoros M. of West Valley City, Utah, 1993. The inspiration for this painting is Matthew 28:19 [Matt. 28:19], “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations,” reminding the artist of the day he met the missionaries in his homeland of El Salvador.
“They That Be with Us,” handmade paper using cotton, wheat straw, daylily leaves, and milkweed bark by Virginia Carter of Kimberly, Idaho, 1993. The upper circle represents the story of Elisha and the young priest found in 2 Kings 6:8–17 [2 Kgs. 6:8–17]. The hosts of heaven surrounding the Syrians on the edge of the circle are reminiscent of the moment when Elisha said, “Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them” (2 Kgs. 6:16). The lower image reminds viewers that latter-day missionaries also receive help from above as did Elisha.