I believe there are three kinds of people in the world; those who make things happen; those who watch things happen; and those who wonder what happened! This generalization may be a useful assessment of many Church members as one of the most historic Church events in missionary work unfolds—the surge in full-time missionaries. This is a time for all members of the Church to Make Things Happen!
By the end of 2013 there may well be over 90,000 full-time missionaries serving, nearly double the number serving just one year ago. All across the Church young men and young women in particular, are responding in record numbers to President Monson’s prophetic call to serve. This surging wave of missionaries is now reaching every mission in the world. As a result, 58 new missions were created in July. Never before has the missionary force been so large, or contained so many sister missionaries. These are extraordinary times, and extraordinary times produce extraordinary people!
We know how the youth of the Church are responding to President Monson’s call to serve; the question is how will the rest of the members respond? In the recent Worldwide Leadership Training Broadcast from the New Mission President’s Seminar, the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles sent an equally prophetic and historic call to Priesthood and Auxiliary Leaders and to members everywhere, to step-up and join this growing army of missionaries and be “one in purpose”. President Monson stated: “Now is the time for members and missionaries to come together, to work together, to labor in the Lord’s vineyard to bring souls unto Him. He has prepared the means for us to share the gospel in a multitude of ways, and He will assist us in our labors if we will act in faith to fulfill His work.” Clearly the Lord is hastening His work in its time!1
What are Prophets and Seers Seeing?
For the past five years, President Monson’s prophetic call of ‘Go to the Rescue’ has been a clarion call to Priesthood and Auxiliary Leaders everywhere to bring back into activity the less-active and inactive members of the Church. For the past three years, the Area Presidency has emphasized the principles of ‘Real Growth’ and true deepening personal conversion through making and keeping sacred covenants. Across the Pacific Area, many leaders have caught the spirit of the Rescue and are experiencing great success in helping individuals and families return to the blessings of living the gospel. As Ward and Stake Councils mobilize under the inspired direction of priesthood keys, extraordinary things are beginning to happen. Is the Lord sending this surge in missionaries to help Priesthood and Auxiliary Leaders accelerate the rescue? Is this also a call to save more of the rising generation by having more young men and young women prepare to serve and to become converted through their own missionary service? How will this change the next generation of Church leaders and prepare the Church for continued future growth?
Things to Understand About the Surge
1. This initial surge in missionaries will not last. In 18-24 months this first and largest wave of missionaries will be gone. The number of missionaries serving may never be as large again. We can’t wait; we need to make things happen NOW. Ward and Stake Councils must act decisively to fully utilize this ‘Missionary Moment’ by ensuring missionaries assigned to their wards are kept busy and productive. Ward Mission Leaders are the key, but the responsibility rests on the Bishop and Ward Council. Each Ward needs a Mission Plan to effectively utilize this surge in missionaries. Priesthood and Auxiliary Leaders need to lead out and make things happen. We encourage every Ward to dedicate one night a week working together with the missionaries, to reach out to less-active members and invite them to come back.
2. The Work of Salvation includes everyone. Missionaries and members are charged to ‘bring others unto Christ”2, including non-members, less-active members, and active members. The Lord makes no distinction among His children, all are beloved. Members and missionaries must be ‘one in purpose’. Elder Neil A. Anderson stated: “We work together in faith and unity, faith that the Lord will guide our steps, and unity with each other and the missionaries, always motivated by our love for Him, our love for one another, and our love for those we serve.”
In 1999 President Hinckley taught, ‘with concerted effort between members and missionaries we could double the number of baptisms”. The same is also true of reactivation. With concerted effort between the members and the missionaries we can double the number of individuals and families we bring back into the Church.
3. Missionaries are called to assist members to do their sacred duty to ‘Go to the Rescue’ and share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We are not being asked to assist the missionaries. We are being asked to assist the Lord in hastening His Work of Salvation. The missionaries are here to assist us. They don’t need more sign-up lists to feed them. They are not starving for food. They are starving for people to teach! Missionaries will always prefer to teach with members than to eat with members. It is time to engage in missionary work and not just missionary maintenance. Let’s serve with them side by side. The surge in sister missionaries will allow Auxiliary Leaders and women in the Ward to take a more active role in the process of conversion and reactivation.
4. Mission Training Centres cannot prepare missionaries in two weeks, they must arrive more prepared. This means that the home must now become the new MTC. Parents have always had a sacred responsibility to “teach their children to understand doctrine”3. We can help our missionaries be more prepared by using Preach My Gospel in the home to help them understand the basic principles of the gospel and of missionary work. We can help them love and understand the Book of Mormon and its essential role in conversion, beginning with their own conversion, long before they enter the mission field. We can help young men and women be worthy and prepared to go to the temple prior to missionary service and to honour sacred temple covenants. Family Home Evening and family scripture reading has never been more important. Parents start preparing your children early - and don’t give up.
5. The New Youth Curriculum, combined with the changes in age requirements for full-time missionary service is clear evidence of the Lord’s desire to fortify and prepare the rising generation. He is hastening His work among the youth of the Church like never before. They are being asked to step-up and to be “a light unto the world.”4 This means parents; leaders and teachers need to personally step-up and become more effective learners; so they can be more effective teachers. They need to make things happen.
How can individuals Make Things Happen?
First and foremost, we can live exemplary lives that reflect the teachings of the Saviour and “ let our own light so shine that others seeing our good works”5 will be drawn to the Saviour. Second, we can pray every day for opportunities to share the gospel. Heavenly Father will hear and answer those prayers. Third, volunteer to go with the missionaries on arranged ‘splits’ to visit less active members, help fellowship and teach investigators or befriend new members. We can share our testimonies and inspiring church media on our social networks with friends and family. We can be bold and ‘Just Ask’ someone to come to our home for family home evening, to a Church activity, to a baptismal service, or to Sunday services. As we do so with love, seeking the inspiration of the Spirit of the Lord. He will Make Things Happen through us.
These are the promised ‘latter-days’6 when the Lord promised to gather all of Israel for the last time. We can have assurance that the Saviour, Jesus Christ is standing at the head of His Church and directing the timing of this great surge in missionaries. We need them now, because He has “prepared a way for us to accomplish the thing which he has commanded us to do.”7
Those with “eyes to see and ears to hear”8 need not wonder what is happening. Those willing to exercise faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and to follow His latter-day prophets will not be content to merely watch these things happen. Motivated by our love for the Saviour and all of the Father’s children, each one of us can all help to make things happen. We can personally become an integral part of this surge. We can make a great difference. We can be prompted by the Spirit to identify those prepared to receive the gospel. With love we can invite them to “come and see”9 and experience the blessings of the gospel. We can reach out. We can be the means of rescue. We can “stand as witnesses of God in all times, in all things, and in all places”10 and in doing so the Lord will make things happen through us. I bear personal witness of the truth of these things.
1. Doctrine and Covenants 88:73
2. Preach My Gospel, Missionary Purpose Chapter 1
3. Doctrine and Covenants 68:25
4. Doctrine and Covenants 103:9
5. Topical Guide ‘Last Days’, ‘Latter-days’
6. I Nephi 3:7
7. Matthew 13:16, Mark 8:18
8. Matthew 5:16
9. John 1:39
10. Mosiah 18:9