One of the most exciting moments in a young adult’s life is when he or she opens a letter from the First Presidency and reads the words: “You are hereby called to serve …” Missionaries in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are called by inspiration to represent the Lord. To become a part of the great latter-day missionary force is an honor. It is thrilling to participate in the fulfillment of latter-day prophecy, such as the rolling forth of the restored gospel “unto the ends of the earth” (D&C 65:2) in preparation for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
Full-time missionaries are commissioned to act in the name of God and invite people to come unto Christ by accepting the principles and ordinances of His restored gospel and endure to the end in faithfulness. In addition, all members of the Church have the privilege and duty to help with missionary work throughout their lives (see D&C 88:81).
Members of the Church have the duty and privilege to share the restored gospel.
The Lord has said, “The field is white already to harvest” (D&C 4:4).
Missionaries assist in the gathering of Israel.
The focus of missionary work is to invite people to Christ.
A full-time mission call comes from the Lord through His authorized servants.
■ Shortly before His Ascension, the Lord gave His Apostles the divine command to “teach all nations” (Matthew 28:19). Since the early days of the Restoration, this sacred charge has been renewed through His latter-day prophets and apostles. In the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord said, “And I give unto you a commandment that … ye shall teach them unto all men; for they shall be taught unto all nations, kindreds, tongues and people” (D&C 42:58). He later said, “For, verily, the sound must go forth from this place into all the world, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth—the gospel must be preached unto every creature, with signs following them that believe” (D&C 58:64). The restored gospel that we are to share “is our Heavenly Father’s plan of happiness. The central doctrine of the gospel is the Atonement of Jesus Christ” (True to the Faith: A Gospel Reference , 76). From the early days of the Church, many members have sacrificed much to take the message of the restored gospel to the world. As the seed of Abraham, members of the Church have an opportunity and responsibility to share the restored gospel in fulfillment of the Abrahamic covenant (see Abraham 2:9–11). It is a privilege to participate in this sacred charge.
■ President Gordon B. Hinckley said: “Let us reach out to the world in our missionary service, teaching all who will listen concerning the restoration of the gospel, speaking without fear but also without self-righteousness, of the First Vision, testifying of the Book of Mormon and of the restoration of the priesthood. Let us, my brothers and sisters, get on our knees and pray for the opportunity to bring others into the joy of the gospel” (in Conference Report, Apr. 2000, 110–11; or Ensign, May 2000, 87).
■ What is the gospel that we are to share with others? In True to the Faith: A Gospel Reference, the gospel is defined as “our Heavenly Father’s plan of happiness. The central doctrine of the gospel is the Atonement of Jesus Christ” (, 76). The Bible Dictionary teaches: “The word gospel means good news. The good news is that Jesus Christ has made a perfect atonement for mankind that will redeem all mankind from the grave and reward each individual according to his/her works. This atonement was begun by his appointment in the premortal world but was worked out by Jesus during his mortal sojourn” (“Gospels,” 682).
In Preach My Gospel, a guide to missionary service, we learn: “The gospel of Jesus Christ defines both your message and your purpose; that is, it provides both the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ of missionary work. The Savior defined His gospel to include some very vital and basic doctrines. He came into the world to do His Father’s will, and His Father sent Him into the world to be lifted up on the cross. By His Atonement and Resurrection, all men will be lifted up to stand before Christ to be judged of their works, whether they be good or evil. Those who exercise faith in Christ, repent of their sins, and are baptized in Christ’s name can be sanctified by the Holy Ghost. If they endure to the end, they will stand spotless before Christ at the last day and will enter into the rest of the Lord. Christ will hold them guiltless before the Father. He will be their Mediator and Advocate” (, 5).
■ As descendants of Abraham and of the house of Israel, Church members have a responsibility to share the gospel. Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained:
“Are you of Israel? Absolutely. You are the ‘Hope of Israel, Zion’s army, Children of the promised day’ (Hymns, 1985, no. 259). …
“… Most of us are of the lineage of Joseph through Ephraim or Manasseh. That was the lineage selected to pioneer the gathering of Israel, the seed to lead throughout the world in blessing all the nations of the earth.
“Missionary work is only the beginning of that blessing” (“Thanks for the Covenant,” in Brigham Young University 1988–89 Devotional and Fireside Speeches , 58–59).
■ Elder Nelson further emphasized missionary work as part of the Lord’s covenant with Abraham: “We have received, as did they of old, the holy priesthood and the everlasting gospel. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are our ancestors. We are of Israel. We have the right to receive the gospel, blessings of the priesthood, and eternal life. Nations of the earth will be blessed by our efforts and by the labors of our posterity. The literal seed of Abraham and those who are gathered into his family by adoption receive these promised blessings—predicated upon acceptance of the Lord and obedience to his commandments” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1995, 42–43; or Ensign, May 1995, 33; italics added).
■ Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained that the Lord’s commission to “teach all nations” is still in force today: “Near the end of his earthly ministry, the resurrected Jesus instructed his disciples with these words: ‘Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you’ (Matthew 28:19–20). That instruction is in force today and is the mandate for General Authorities [and] missionaries … to travel to the four corners of the world teaching the gospel” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1988, 34; or Ensign, Nov. 1988, 28).
■ Elder Henry B. Eyring of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke of the charge each Church member has to share the restored gospel:
“Our ability to touch others with our warning voice matters to all who are covenant disciples of Jesus Christ. Here is the charge given to each of the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: ‘Behold, I sent you out to testify and warn the people, and it becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor’ (D&C 88:81).
“That command and warning of danger was given to those called as missionaries at the start of the Restoration. But the duty to warn our neighbor falls on all of us who have accepted the covenant of baptism. We are to talk with nonmember friends and relatives about the gospel. Our purpose is to invite them to be taught by the full-time missionaries who are called and set apart to teach” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1998, 40–41; or Ensign, Nov. 1998, 32–33).
■ Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles expressed the value of his full-time mission: “I encourage you with every capacity that I have to pray about a full-time mission for the fulfillment it will bring to your life as you bless others to find the truth and receive the ordinances of salvation. Everything that I cherish in life today began to mature from my sacred experience as a full-time missionary” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1997, 48; or Ensign, Nov. 1997, 36).
■ The imagery in the phrase “the field is white already to harvest” is the white appearance of a ripe field of grain as it stands in the bright sunshine. The Lord has frequently used the phrase when He has declared that the earth is ready for the gathering of souls (see D&C 4:4; 6:3; 11:3; 12:3; 14:3; 33:3, 7). Many of Heavenly Father’s children are prepared to hear and accept the restored gospel. They are ready to be brought to the Lord’s Church as part of the latter-day harvesting.
In February 1829, when the Lord said that “the field is white already to harvest” (D&C 4:4), He began opening the doors for missionary work throughout the world. Although Church membership is presently a small percentage of the world population, the Church will eventually be established in all nations. Sometimes people come into the Church “one of a city, and two of a family” (Jeremiah 3:14). At other times people are brought into the Church in large numbers. For example, Wilford Woodruff baptized over 2,000 converts in less than a year in Great Britain. In the 14 years that the Prophet Joseph Smith led the Church—from April 6, 1830, to June 27, 1844—that membership grew from 6 to 26,000 members. From a small beginning the Church has grown to a worldwide organization, and that statement of the Lord given in 1829 is still being realized.
■ Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles gave the following promise to prospective missionaries: “To you who will accept the call to go forth and serve, I can promise you that your good name will never be forgotten in this world or in the eternities to come. So again we issue the clarion call and pray that the Lord of the harvest will send forth laborers in increased numbers, for the field is white, all ready for a bounteous harvest (see D&C 4:4)” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1992, 33–34; or Ensign, May 1992, 25).
■ President Gordon B. Hinckley taught: “From the original six members has grown a vast family of worshipers. … No other church to come out of the soil of America has grown so fast or spread so widely. Within its vast embrace are members from many nations who speak many tongues. It is a phenomenon without precedent. As the tapestry of its past has unrolled, a beautiful pattern has come to view. It finds expression in the lives of a happy and wonderful people. It portends marvelous things yet to come” (in Conference Report, Apr. 2002, 3; or Ensign, May 2002, 4).
■ The work of bringing people into the gospel net through faith in Christ, repentance, baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost is a part of the gathering of Israel. President Joseph Fielding Smith taught: “Every person who embraces the gospel becomes of the house of Israel. In other words, they become members of the chosen lineage, or Abraham’s children through Isaac and Jacob unto whom the promises were made” (Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. [1954–56], 3:246).
■ President Spencer W. Kimball taught about the gathering of Israel: “The gathering of Israel consists of joining the true church and their coming to a knowledge of the true God. Any person, therefore, who has accepted the restored gospel, and who now seeks to worship the Lord in his own tongue and with the Saints in the nations where he lives, has complied with the law of the gathering of Israel and is heir to all of the blessings promised the Saints in these last days” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball , 439).
■ Elder Russell M. Nelson taught that “missionary work is only the beginning” of the gathering of Israel: “The fulfillment, the consummation, of those blessings comes as those who have entered the waters of baptism perfect their lives to the point that they may enter the holy temple. Receiving an endowment there seals members of the Church to the Abrahamic covenant” (Perfection Pending, and Other Favorite Discourses , 207).
■ When the Lord’s Church was restored to the earth, people could once again receive baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and other principles and ordinances of the gospel as revealed by the Lord. Acceptance of the Lord’s doctrine and ordinances puts us on the path that leads to eternal life with Him and our Heavenly Father. The prophet Moroni taught: “Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God” (Moroni 10:32).
Missionaries and Church members may experience joy and peace as they share the restored gospel message that leads people to Christ.
■ Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles bore witness of Christ and His central role in the Church: “We love the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Messiah, our Savior and our Redeemer. His is the only name by which we can be saved (see Mosiah 3:17, 5:8; D&C 18:23). We seek to serve him. We belong to his church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Our missionaries and members testify of Jesus Christ in many nations of the world” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1987, 78; or Ensign, Nov. 1987, 65).
■ Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke of his life as a witness of the truth:
“My greatest thrill and the most joyful of all realizations is that I have the opportunity, as Nephi phrased it, to ‘talk of Christ, … rejoice in Christ, … preach of Christ, [and] prophesy of Christ’ (2 Nephi 25:26) wherever I may be and with whomever I may find myself until the last breath of my life is gone. …
“But my greatest anxiety stems from that very same commission. A line of scripture reminds us with searing understatement that ‘they which preach the gospel should live … the gospel’ (1 Corinthians 9:14). Beyond my words and teachings and spoken witness, my life must be part of that testimony of Jesus. My very being should reflect the divinity of this work. I could not bear it if anything I might ever say or do would in any way diminish your faith in Christ” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1994, 39–40; or Ensign, Nov. 1994, 31).
■ Being a full-time missionary is a great opportunity. Through His authorized servants, the Lord calls missionaries to invite people to come unto Christ. This is the Lord’s work. Missionaries have the authority to teach the restored gospel and, through the priesthood, administer essential ordinances of salvation.
■ President Gordon B. Hinckley challenged the young men of the Church to take their missionary opportunities seriously: “I throw out a challenge to every young man within this vast congregation tonight. Prepare yourself now to be worthy to serve the Lord as a full-time missionary. He has said, ‘If ye are prepared ye shall not fear’ (D&C 38:30). Prepare to consecrate two years of your lives to this sacred service. That will in effect constitute a tithe on the first twenty years of your lives” (in Conference Report, Sept.–Oct. 1995, 70; or Ensign, Nov. 1995, 51–52).
■ Elder Monte J. Brough of the Seventy emphasized that a mission call comes from the Lord:
“On four different occasions, Sister Brough and I and our family have excitedly opened the envelope containing the mission call and assignment for one of our children. Each time, we have contemplated with excitement the various possibilities for their service. While preferences were expressed, the moment their eyes saw the words ‘You are hereby assigned to serve in the (blank) mission,’ without exception a wonderful feeling of good and right came over each family member. We each knew that a prophet had guided a divine selection process to which four of our children have gladly responded. Tens of thousands of returned missionaries can also testify of this process and the divine inspiration of their own missionary calling. …
“… Personal and prophetic revelation is the foundation upon which our Church service is firmly based” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1997, 37–38; or Ensign, May 1997, 28).
■ Elder Richard G. Scott taught about a young man’s responsibility to serve a mission: “If you are a physically able, emotionally stable young man, pray about the opportunity and responsibility you have to the Lord to prepare yourself to be a full-time missionary. That includes understanding the scriptures, being obedient, keeping yourself clean, pure, and worthy to be endowed in the temple. When of age, accept a call by the President of the Church to serve for two years as an emissary of the Lord” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1997, 48; or Ensign, Nov. 1997, 36).
What does the declaration “the field is white already to harvest” mean to you?
In what ways is going on a mission a sacrifice? In what ways is it not a sacrifice?
In what ways will knowing that your mission call came from the Savior influence how you use your time each day during your mission?
Start a study journal. This is a journal in which you record gospel insights learned from your study. Many missions will instruct you to keep such a journal, so this will give you a start on a useful missionary tool.
Memorize Doctrine and Covenants 4, and prepare to recite it in a future class devotional (or you may recite it together as a class).
Memorize (or rememorize) the Articles of Faith.
Talk with a recently returned missionary about the value of serving a mission and whether or not his or her mission was a sacrifice.
Read Doctrine and Covenants 31:3–13, and analyze those charges and promises of the Lord to missionaries.
Bring scriptures and this student manual to class each week.
“Missionary Work” (pp. 104–6)
Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles wrote about the first missionary of this dispensation, Samuel Smith, one of the Prophet Joseph Smith’s brothers. This early missionary serves as an important example to faithful missionaries who may feel like they see few fruits from their labors and about how to use the Book of Mormon in missionary work.
“His is a story of great faith and courage in the face of discouraging circumstances. He was not called as the first missionary by accident. After receiving a spiritual confirmation of the truthfulness of what his prophet-brother had been telling him, he became the third person baptized in this dispensation—following Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery.
“He began his mission with a sure knowledge of the truthfulness of the sacred work being performed by Joseph Smith and also of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. As one of the Eight Witnesses, Samuel was privileged to be shown the plates by Joseph, and was able to hold the plates in his hands and examine the ancient writing thereon. He was also one of the six charter members of the Church when it was organized on 6 April 1830.
“Shortly before he received his formal missionary call, Samuel sold a copy of the Book of Mormon to Phineas Young, a traveling preacher. In this initial encounter he held a book in his hand and offered it to Phineas.
“‘There is a book, sir, I wish you to read.’
“Phineas hesitated. ‘Pray, sir, what book have you?’
“‘The Book of Mormon, or, as it is called by some, the Golden Bible.’
“‘Ah, sir, then it purports to be a revelation?’
“‘Yes. It is a revelation from God.’
“The young man showed Phineas the last two pages of the book and had him read the testimony of the witnesses. The young man continued, ‘If you will read this book with a prayerful heart and ask God to give you a witness you will know of the truth of this work.’
“His earnest demeanor and forthright manner impressed Phineas, who told the young man he would certainly read it. Phineas asked his name; he told him it was Samuel H. Smith.
“‘Ah, you are one of the witnesses.’
“‘Yes, I know the book to be a revelation from God, translated by the gift and power of the Holy Ghost, and that my brother, Joseph Smith, Jun., is a Prophet, Seer and Revelator’ (quoted in S. Dilworth Young, Brigham Young—His Life (First Half), Brigham Young University Speeches of the Year [17 Mar. 1964], 3).
“When Samuel left on his first mission, shortly following the organization of the Church, he was armed with a testimony of the truth and little else. But he needed little else. He had a testimony, and he had copies of the Book of Mormon—the missionary tool for conversion. He carried a knapsack with him that he filled with as many copies of this book as he could carry. He probably even carried one in his hand.
“You have to remember that this had never been done before. He didn’t have a companion to show him how to use the Book of Mormon. There was no missionary training center for this young man.
“So Samuel left Palmyra to travel throughout the countryside, seeking converts and interested individuals who would purchase a copy of the Book of Mormon. He walked 25 miles that first day, and upon reaching an inn, he asked the innkeeper if he would buy one of the books. When the innkeeper learned more of his mission, Samuel was forced to leave and spent that first night under an apple tree.
“The next day Samuel met a Methodist preacher named John P. Greene. Mr. Greene was not personally interested in reading the book, but he said he would keep it to see if anyone else wanted to buy it. Samuel did not give up. He called again on the Greene family and found that Mr. Greene’s wife, Rhoda Young Greene—a sister of Phineas Young—had read the book. She later convinced her husband that he needed to read it as well. Samuel did not baptize one soul on that first mission, but those two copies of the Book of Mormon that were given to Phineas Young and John P. Greene eventually were the means of converting a whole neighborhood, including Brigham Young and his family and Heber C. Kimball and his family” (“The Book of Mormon: The Heart of Missionary Proselyting,” Ensign, Sept. 2002, 15–16).
Elder Heber C. Kimball, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, was called as the first missionary to preach the restored gospel in England, in 1837. He left his family in Kirtland, Ohio, to serve across the Atlantic Ocean in the first overseas mission of the Church in the latter days. He described his calling, his departure from home, and his arrival in England:
“It never occurred to my mind that I should be one of the first commissioned to preach the everlasting gospel on the shores of Europe, and I can assure my friends, I was taken by surprise when I was informed by Brother Hyrum Smith, one of the Presidency of the Church, that I had been designed by the Spirit, and at a conference of the authorities of the Church which had been held, was appointed to take the charge of a mission to the kingdom of Great Britain.
“The idea of being appointed to such an important office and mission was almost more than I could bear up under. I felt my weakness and unworthiness, and was nearly ready to sink under the task which devolved upon me, and I could not help exclaiming: O Lord I am a man of ‘stammering tongue’ and altogether unfit for such a work. How can I go to preach in that land, which is so famed throughout Christendom for light, knowledge, and piety, and the nursery of religion; and to a people whose intelligence is proverbial?
“Again, the idea of leaving my family for so long a time, which a mission to that country must necessarily require—of being separated from my friends whom I loved, and with whom I had enjoyed many blessings and happy seasons—of leaving my native land to sojourn among strangers in a strange land, was almost overwhelming.
“However, all these considerations did not deter me from the path of duty. Neither did I confer with flesh and blood; but the moment I understood the will of my Heavenly Father, I felt a determination to go at all hazards, believing that He would support me by His almighty power, and endow me with every qualification I needed. And although my family were dear to me, and I should have to leave them almost destitute, yet I felt that the cause of truth, the gospel of Christ, outweighed every other consideration; and I felt willing to leave them, believing that their wants would be provided for by that God, who ‘taketh care of sparrows’ and who ‘feedeth the young ravens when they cry.’ …
“After spending a few days in arranging my affairs and settling my business, on the thirteenth day of June, A.D. 1837, I bade adieu to my family and friends, and the town of Kirtland, where the House of the Lord stood.”
Over a month later, on July 18, Elder Heber C. Kimball and his mission companions arrived in Liverpool, England. He wrote: “Immediately after we anchored, a small boat came along side, and several of the passengers, with Brothers Hyde, Richards, Goodson, and myself, got in and went on shore. When we were within six or seven feet from the pier, I leaped on shore, and for the first time in my life stood on British ground, among strangers whose manners and customs were different from my own. My feelings at that time were peculiar, particularly when I realized the object, importance, and extent of my mission and the work to which I had been appointed and in which I was shortly to be engaged” (Journal of Heber C. Kimball, comp. R. B. Thompson , 9–11, 15; punctuation and capitalization modernized; paragraphing altered).
In the late summer of 1839, Elder Wilford Woodruff left his home and family under very difficult conditions to begin a mission in Great Britain. Both he and his wife were very ill and very poor. Elder Woodruff was faithful to his call, however, and the Lord blessed him with great success during his missionary labors. One significant account occurred following an impression he received to leave a town where he was having great success preaching and baptizing. He wrote:
“I went in secret before the Lord, and asked Him what His will was concerning me.
“The answer I got was, that I should go to the south, for the Lord had a great work for me to perform there, as many souls were waiting for the word of the Lord.”
After traveling nearly 50 miles by coach and foot to a region where no Latter-day Saint had ever been, Wilford met John and Jane Benbow. They were wealthy farmers and members of a congregation “who had broken off from the Wesleyan Methodists, and taken the name of United Brethren.” Wilford Woodruff wrote:
“This body of United Brethren were searching for light and truth, but had gone as far as they could, and were continually calling upon the Lord to open the way before them, and send them light and knowledge that they might know the true way to be saved.
“When I heard these things I could clearly see why the Lord had commanded me, while in the town of Hanley, to leave that place of labor and go to the south, for in Herefordshire there was a great harvest-field for gathering many Saints into the kingdom of God.”
While in this location he baptized over 600 people! One unique teaching experience from his journal worth noting helps illustrate how “white” this field of labor was:
“On Sunday, the 8th, I preached at Frome’s Hill in the morning, at Standley Hill in the afternoon, and at John Benbow’s Hill Farm, in the evening.
“The parish church that stood in the neighborhood of Brother Benbow’s, presided over by the rector of the parish, was attended during the day by only fifteen persons, while I had a large congregation, estimated to number a thousand, attend my meeting through the day and evening.
“When I arose in the evening to speak at Brother Benbow’s house, a man entered the door and informed me that he was a constable, and had been sent by the rector of the parish with a warrant to arrest me.
“I asked him ‘For what crime?’
“He said, ‘For preaching to the people.’
“I told him that I, as well as the rector, had a license for preaching the gospel to the people, and that if he would take a chair I would wait upon him after meeting.
“He took my chair and sat beside me. I preached the first principles of the everlasting gospel for an hour and a quarter. The power of God rested upon me, the Spirit filled the house, and the people were convinced.
“At the close of the meeting I opened a door for baptism, and seven offered themselves. Among the number were four preachers and the constable.
“The latter arose and said, ‘Mr. Woodruff, I would like to be baptized.’
“I told him I would like to baptize him. I went down to the pool and baptized the seven. We then met together and I confirmed thirteen, and broke bread unto the Saints and we all rejoiced together.
“The constable went to the rector and told him if he wanted Mr. Woodruff taken up for preaching the gospel, he must go himself and serve the writ, for he had heard him preach the only true gospel sermon he had ever listened to in his life.
“The rector did not know what to make of it, so he sent two clerks of the Church of England as spies, to attend our meeting, and find out what we did preach.
“But they were both pricked in their hearts and received the word of the Lord gladly, and were baptized and confirmed members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“The rector became alarmed and did not dare to send anybody else” (Leaves from My Journal , 93–97)
Another of the Restoration’s great missionaries was a convert to the Church named Dan Jones. President Gordon B. Hinckley wrote about Dan Jones’s missions in his homeland of Wales:
“Dan Jones was born 4 August 1810 in Halkin, Flintshire, Wales. When he was seventeen, he went to sea. He learned of ships and sailors, the sting of salt spray whipped by a stiff wind, the pitching of a boat in a terrifying storm. In 1840 he came to America. Here he acquired and captained a small boat that plied the waters of the Mississippi. …
“While engaged in river traffic, Dan learned of the Mormons, who had been driven from Missouri and had found temporary refuge in Quincy, Illinois, and then had gone on to establish ‘Nauvoo the Beautiful’ on ground where the river makes a sweeping bend, creating the illusion of a peninsula reaching out into the water. Indications are that Dan Jones read some of the anti-Mormon castigations then prevalent. All of this piqued his curiosity. He wanted to learn more about these people. He met them, was taught, and accepted the truth. In January 1843, he was baptized in the cold waters of the Mississippi River. …
“Dan Jones was called to go [on a mission] to Wales. His wife, Jane, accompanied him. They traveled with Wilford Woodruff and others to the British Isles. Elder Jones was assigned to labor in north Wales. Though he had the great asset of speaking both Welsh and English, he accomplished relatively little in touching the hearts of the people of that area. On the other hand, William Henshaw, who did not speak the Welsh language, enjoyed considerable success in the south.
“When Brother Henshaw was released a year later, Elder Jones was called to preside over all the work in Wales. He made his headquarters in Merthyr Tydfil in southeastern Wales. Working with a handful of missionaries, he witnessed a remarkable harvest. From 1845 to 1848, approximately 3,600 were baptized. It is estimated that in terms of population, one out of every 278 people in Wales at that time was baptized into the LDS Church.
“Opponents had access to newspapers and other publications to attack the Mormon missionaries. But the press would not open its columns to Elder Jones. He therefore determined that he would answer with publications of his own. He enlisted the help of his brother, John Jones, a Protestant minister who owned a printing press. It is said that John printed Dan’s literature during the week and denounced him from the pulpit on Sunday.
“Dan Jones’s publication was the first Mormon periodical published in a language other than English. …
“… He feared no one. He moved with great boldness. Of his method it has been written: ‘He would often advertise in a town for several weeks that he was coming to “convert” the whole town. He would inform the mayor, the city council, the ministers, and the police force of his intentions. He would have the local members of the church distribute thousands of tracts to all the city. When he arrived at the railroad station he was often met by all of the officials of the city and many excited citizens’ [Rex LeRoy Christensen, “The Life and Contributions of Captain Dan Jones,” Master’s thesis, Utah State University, 1977, 39–40].
“Ministers of other churches lashed out against him. They used their pulpits and the public press. Of their antagonism against him, Dan Jones wrote, ‘Most of the stories that were told on poor Brother Joseph in America, are here fathered on Captain Jones, and I often hear those who don’t know that little man [himself], unhesitatingly denounce him as “a curse upon this nation”’ [Christensen, “Life and Contributions,” 27].
“Public opinions raged this way and that. But instead of shrinking, Dan Jones capitalized on controversies. He drew such public attention that people had to decide whether the gospel of the Mormons was true or false. An increasing number of converts came into the Church while a veritable storm arose against the Mormons in general and Elder Jones in particular. He was vilified in the press. He was shouted at in the streets. His life was threatened. …
“… [In 1852] he was called to serve a second mission in his native land. Again he responded without hesitation. …
“Once back in Wales, Elder Jones again put his whole energy into the work. During his second mission, some two thousand new converts came into the Church. It was remarkable. …
“Tens of thousands in the Church today are descended from those whom he and his associates taught and baptized. In terms of the number of converts, Dan Jones must certainly be included in the half dozen or so most productive missionaries in the history of the Church. He dedicated his life to the teaching of righteousness and the building of faith” (“The Thing of Most Worth,” Ensign, Sept. 1993, 2, 4, 6–7).