Doctrine and Covenants 99: A Mission Call for John Murdock

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Student Study Guide, (2005), 112–113


John Murdock
John Murdock (1792–1871) and his family joined the Church when the first missionaries passed through Kirtland, Ohio, in the fall of 1830. On May 1, 1831, while they were living in Orange township, his wife, Julia, died while giving birth to twins. The previous day, April 30, 15 miles away in Kirtland, Emma Smith had also given birth to twins—both of whom died. Unable toproperly care for his motherless children, Brother Murdock allowed the Prophet Joseph and Emma Smith to adopt his twins—Julia and Joseph. The baby Joseph later died due to sickness and exposure on a night when the Prophet Joseph was tarred and feathered in Hiram, Ohio.As you readDoctrine and Covenants 99, think about the sacrifices the Lord asked of Brother Murdock. What sacrifices are required of missionaries today? How are they similar to what the Lord asked of Brother Murdock? How are they different?John Murdock fulfilled his mission and accepted many other callings throughout his life. He died faithful to the Lord and the Church.

Understanding the Scriptures

Doctrine and Covenants 99

Doctrine and Covenants 99:4—“Cleanse Your Feet”

the “Understanding the Scriptures” section forDoctrine and Covenants 24:15(p. 36).

Doctrine and Covenants 99:6—Provide for Your Children before Leaving

“In 1832 [John Murdock] sent his three oldest children to Bishop Partridge in Missouri with some means for their support. Joseph [Smith] kept Julia, whose twin brother (Joseph) died in the Hiram persecutions in March, 1832. Bro. Murdock sold his property, and sent some of the money obtained thereby to Bishop Partridge in Missouri for the support of his children and he also gave some to Brother Joseph. Thus he was prepared to preach the gospel” (Andrew Jenson,Latter-day Saint Biographical Encyclopedia,4 vols. [1901–36], 2:363).

President Ezra Taft Benson told about when his father, George T. Benson, with a wife and seven children, received a mission call:

“We gathered around the old sofa in the living room, and Father told us about his mission call. Then Mother said: ‘We’re proud to know that Father is considered worthy to go on a mission. We’re crying a bit because it means two years of separation.’ …

“And so Father went on his mission. Though at the time I did not fully comprehend the depths of my father’s commitment, I understand better now that his willing acceptance of this call was evidence of his great faith” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1986, 60; orEnsign,Nov. 1986, 46).

The Church does not ask men to leave their wives and children and serve missions today. We can, however, encourage and support grandparents as they accept mission calls and leave family behind to serve the Lord. In doing so, we may receive the same blessings Church members enjoyed in previous generations.

Studying the Scriptures

Do activity A or activities B and C as you studyDoctrine and Covenants 99.

Activity A iconConduct an Interview

Ask a missionary or a returned missionary questions about what it is like to declare the word of God through the power of the Holy Spirit, as mentioned inDoctrine and Covenants 99:2. Write down the answers. This can give you insight into verse 2.

Activity B iconUse Other Scriptures to Clarify

InDoctrine and Covenants 99:3, the Lord said we should receive His servants “as a little child.” ReadMosiah 3:19and explain how that scripture clarifies what it means to do this.

Activity C iconApply It to Today

  1. 1.

    The Lord asked John Murdock to leave his family and serve a mission. What sacrifices do missionaries today make in order to serve?

  2. 2.

    Why did Brother Murdock and why do missionaries today make these sacrifices?