Missionary Age Announcement “Putting a Fire Under Our Feet”
By Michelle Garrett, Church News staff writer
- With the historic announcement of the lowered minimum age for missionary service, missionary work is accelerating.
- General Authorities have mentioned that the Lord is not only hastening the work, but “putting a fire under our feet.”
- Resources for youth have been created and updated to prepare the youth for missionary service.
“I want to bear you my witness that all these things were put in place…for a very divine purpose.” —Brother Larry M. Gibson, first counselor in the Young Men general presidency
When President Thomas S. Monson made the historic announcement in the October 2012 general conference that lowered the minimum age for missionary service, Brother Larry M. Gibson, first counselor in the Young Men general presidency, said he wished he could have been home watching it on TV. Instead, he was sitting in a red chair in the front of the Conference Center.
“I forgot to turn my cell phone off,” Brother Gibson said. “It was on vibrate, and I looked down and realized [my family] was going to have seven full-time missionaries in less than two years.”
During the 2013 Women’s Conference on the Brigham Young University campus May 2, Brother Gibson spoke on “Hastening the Work with Younger Missionaries” and especially how parents can help their children prepare to serve missions at a younger age.
Although Brother Gibson had known something about President Monson’s announcement before it was made, he still found he had a strong reaction when he first heard it out of the prophet’s mouth.
“It excited me. I felt joy and anticipation, and then all of a sudden fear struck.”
Brother Gibson said he started to wonder if the young people would be prepared for missionary service. He started to think about all they would need to know to serve missions. Some of them would need to learn how to serve as branch presidents and Relief Society presidents. They would need to learn to keep their rooms clean, dress appropriately, work hard, have mature social interactions, and be self-reliant. They need to make sure they have a good driving record so they could be called to positions in the mission that include driving a car. They need to be careful about what they put on social networks. Most important, they have to know how to have the Spirit to be with them.
Brother Larry M. Gibson, first counselor in the Young Men General Presidency.
But Brother Gibson knew well the process leading up to this announcement. In October 2010, President Monson reiterated in general conference that all able young men are called to serve full-time missions. In June of 2011, the Strengthening the Rising Generation Committee was formed. This committee was chaired by two members of the Quorum of the Twelve and three members of the Seventy and included members of the Primary, Young Women, and Young Men general presidencies, including Elder Gibson.
“In the very first meeting, Elder Russell M. Nelson said, ‘We’ve got to think outside the box like we’ve never done before,’ ” said Brother Gibson.
Brother Gibson said he has heard a number of General Authorities say the Lord is not only hastening the work but also “putting a fire under our feet.” The Church has come out with resources to prepare the youth in this exciting time. Personal Progress was updated in 2009, Duty to God was updated in 2010, the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet was updated in 2012, and the Come, Follow Me curriculum for youth was also released in 2012.
“I want to bear you my witness that all these things were put in place,” Brother Gibson said. “If they had not been put in place, that announcement could not have been made. It was made for a very divine purpose.”