All missionaries, past or present, serve with the hope of making life better for other people.
Today’s missionaries carry on the great legacy of filling the earth with the knowledge of the Lord (see Isaiah 11:9). From Abraham to Paul to Ammon to Wilford Woodruff, missionaries in the scriptures and Church history provide modern-day missionaries with strong role models.
Whether we are member missionaries, preparing for full-time missionary service, serving a mission, or returning from a mission, we can draw courage and inspiration from these examples.
Our Missionary Heritage in the Bible and Pearl of Great Price
Old Testament missionaries, such as Jonah, were called to deliver a voice of warning to the people (see Ezekiel 3:17–19). From Jonah’s example we see the importance of repentance and obedience. The story of Abraham teaches us about the lineage and power of the Melchizedek Priesthood.
New Testament missionaries, such as Peter and Paul, worked to preserve the teachings of Jesus Christ. Nevertheless, over time the world fell into apostasy. God restored the gospel through the Prophet Joseph Smith. We are now working, as those missionaries did, to preserve and share the teachings of Jesus Christ.
Alma, Amulek, the sons of Mosiah, and Samuel the Lamanite are only a few of the great missionary role models we find in the Book of Mormon. In them we see examples of repentance, faith, obedience, and courage. Like them, we can rely on inspiration and revelation from God to guide our missionary service.
After the Restoration of the gospel, missionaries were essential. Missionaries such as Dan Jones, Orson Hyde, and Parley P. Pratt shared the Book of Mormon and the gospel of Jesus Christ. Some, like the Prophet Joseph’s brother Samuel, served close to their home. Others traveled far to share the gospel in places such as Thailand, the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii), Denmark, and England.
These early missionaries often served long and multiple missions. They left parents, sweethearts, wives, children, and grandchildren just as we do. They serve as examples to us today of faith, courage, obedience, endurance, and diligence.
Building on Our Missionary Heritage
Since President Thomas S. Monson announced in the October 2012 general conference that young men and young women could leave for a mission at a younger age, tens of thousands of Latter-day Saints have thronged the mission field.
In the April 2013 general conference, Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles added his witness of missionary work and encouraged each of us to become an important part of this unfolding miracle by helping to find those ready to hear the gospel: “As surely as the Lord has inspired more missionaries to serve, He is also awakening the minds and opening the hearts of more good and honest people to receive His missionaries. You already know them or will know them. They are in your family and live in your neighborhood. They walk past you on the street, sit by you in school, and connect with you online” (“It’s a Miracle,” Ensign, May 2013, 78).