Elder Evans Shares Principles that Protect Missionaries Spiritually
Contributed By Marianne Holman Prescott, Church News staff writer
- Stay centered on the simplicity of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
- Look to mission presidents and their wives for examples of good family relationships.
- Plan for the future using the appropriate tools.
“One of the greatest safeguards the Lord has put in place is your teaching of the true and simple doctrine of the gospel of Jesus Christ.” —Elder David F. Evans of the Seventy
The Lord has provided measures to help keep missionaries safe from spiritual and physical hazards, Elder David F. Evans of the Seventy and Executive Director of the Missionary Department said during the 2015 Seminar for New Mission Presidents held in the Provo Missionary Training Center on June 25.
He said he wouldn’t speak of the usual safety concerns, such as carbon monoxide and smoke detectors, seat belts, bike helmets, or the avoidance of pornography or other material introduced through technology.
“Rather, I will speak of those principles of spiritual and physical safety and the safeguards that are available to you and that apply no matter where you serve and no matter the environment around you,” he said.
Drawing from the words of Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Elder Evans echoed his words of teaching—and reteaching—the fundamental doctrine of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
“Your obedient willingness to teach and reteach this basic doctrine, without wandering into spiritual side trails, will keep your missionaries firmly centered in true doctrine, and that will protectively change and improve their attitudes and behaviors.”
Teaching basic true doctrine “will improve behavior quicker than simply focusing on behavior,” he said. It is important to listen to the Spirit and heed promptings. Obedience to God’s commandments provides physical and spiritual protection.
Recognizing that it is not possible to quarantine anyone from all temptation and unworthy influences, Elder Evans spoke of giving missionaries tools to withstand temptations and overcome evil.
“Obedience coupled with repentance will protect them during their missions and provide a protective pattern for the rest of their lives,” he said. “Experiences with your love and trust, especially after they make mistakes, will safeguard them during their missions and give them a pattern for how to lead their families and others throughout their lives.”
The Missionary Handbook
“The safeguards found in the Missionary Handbook were given by the Lord through His prophets and apostles to help us know how to be safe, wherever missionaries find themselves.”
Example and time
Elder Evans reminded the mission presidents and their wives that missionaries will be watching and wanting to emulate them in everything they do as a leader, spouse, and parent.
Recognizing that many missionaries come from families where the gospel is not lived or where both parents are not in the home, Elder Evans reminded leaders that they are an example of an eternal marriage, an example of how husbands and wives should treat each other with kindness and love, and an example of how a couple can work together in faith and love.
“Of all the things you teach your missionaries, this may be the most important,” he said.
A pattern for teaching
Elder Evans outlined an effective pattern that allows “he that preacheth and he that receiveth, [to understand] one another, and both are edified and rejoice together.”
He invited leaders to teach using a pattern that asks individuals to come prepared to learn, facilitates interaction to edify, and includes invitations to act.
“One of the greatest safeguards the Lord has put in place is your teaching of the true and simple doctrine of the gospel of Jesus Christ,” he said. “Teach and reteach the doctrine of Christ, focusing on faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end, always remembering that the end to which we endure is the temple and being faithful throughout our lives.”
Planning for the future
“Just as we are concerned with providing safeguards for missionaries to be able to safely serve during their missions, we are also concerned about every missionary having continuing protection and safeguards after he or she returns home,” he said.
Because this transition is critical, new materials entitled My Plan have been created to help missionaries establish and maintain safeguards throughout their lives. Before missionaries even return home they will build a plan for their post-mission life. Some of the topics it will focus on are personal and spiritual growth, education, employment, dating and temple marriage, temple worship, Sabbath worship, institute, and life planning, including how they will use and interact with technology and social media.
“You will hear more about this effort in the coming months,” he said.
The specific effort and planning will help missionaries maintain personal safeguards and remain true after they return home, he said.
“This work—safeguarding, strengthening, and helping missionaries to be both spiritually and physically safe—requires mission presidents and wives who can see what the Lord sees as He reaches out to this rising generation,” he said.