Senior Missionaries Are “Needed, Blessed, Loved”

Contributed By Sarah Harris, Church News contributor

  • 1 September 2017

A senior missionary couple visits with a young woman. The Church has an ongoing need for seniors willing to serve a mission.  Photo by Sarah Harris.

Article Highlights

  • The present demand for senior missionaries is almost double the number currently serving.
  • Senior missionaries can serve in areas that young missionaries cannot.
  • Senior missionaries have opportunities to draw people closer to Christ.

“No matter what your assignment is, you will have opportunities to teach and help bring people closer to Christ.” —Chris Miller of the Missionary Department

“You are needed,” was the LDS Missionary Department’s message to senior Church members at BYU Education Week on August 22.

“In the history of the world, there hasn’t been more of a need where the times cry out for missionaries as they do now, especially mature people in the gospel such as yourselves, who live the gospel, … know how to navigate this world, and know how to bring the blessing of the gospel to the hearts of the people that you talk to,” said Chris Miller, pre-field services group manager for the Missionary Department.

David Williams, global operations manager for the Church-service missionary program office, told the class that the current number of about 6,300 full-time senior missionaries serving today represents about 50 percent of the present demand.

“We receive requests daily from mission presidents and from all the Church departments and operations requesting more senior missionaries,” Williams said.

The Missionary Department would need more than 11,000 full-time senior missionaries to submit recommendations every year in order to match the requests it has received, according to Williams. Similarly, about 12,000 Church-service missionaries would need to be called every year to meet the number requested beyond the approximately 23,000 who are currently serving.

“Do you see the challenge, brothers and sisters? Do you see how the Lord needs you?” Williams asked. “The need is great. The need is consistent. … If anything, it continues to grow.”

Senior missionaries are especially needed because they can serve in areas where young missionaries can’t, according to Miller.

“There are places in the world that young missionaries aren’t allowed to serve because the Church isn’t officially recognized. But senior missionaries can serve there because Latter-Day Saint Charities is recognized and welfare opportunities are available,” Miller said. “You open the doors so that missionary work can start in those countries. What a neat opportunity that is.”

Williams said the missions that are most in need of senior missionaries are those outside of the U.S. and Canada.

“These areas outside of the U.S. are the areas where the Church is growing the most and the areas where the need for experienced, seasoned members to come in and provide assistance and stability is needed the very, very most,” Williams said. “In many cases, these missions would gladly welcome those that only speak English—that don’t speak the language.”

Senior missionaries can serve in a variety of assignments, according to Miller, such as building temples, assisting the needy, providing clean drinking water, providing medical support and training, assisting others with their family history, preserving records for future temple work, helping people overcome addictions, and supporting other missionaries and members.

“And most importantly, you can help people draw closer to Christ,” Miller said. “No matter what your assignment is, you will have opportunities to teach and help bring people closer to Christ.”

The education week presentation included stories and videos of several senior missionaries, who testified of the blessings that have resulted from their service and recommended that other seniors serve missions.

“The Lord does need you,” Williams said. “He needs your experience. But an important element of that message is that He needs you as you are today.”

Chris Miller, pre-field services group manager for the LDS Missionary Department, speaks at BYU Education Week about the need for senior missionaries in the Church. Photo by Sarah Harris.

David Williams, global operations manager for the Church-service missionary program office, teaches a BYU Education Week class titled “Senior Missionaries Needed, Blessed, and Loved.” Photo by Sarah Harris.