There are some missionaries in the Minneapolis Minnesota Mission that are absolutely terrific.
They’re willing to go anywhere and talk to anybody. They have a deep knowledge of the gospel, and they bear a strong testimony of Jesus Christ. They’re friendly and persuasive but not overbearing. They carry a warm, wonderful feeling that lingers and lingers.
They’re the Church magazines.
And when the elders, sisters, couples, and members in Minnesota started using them in their missionary work, marvelous things began to happen.
“We were teaching Kim and Jan Smith, two teenage girls from River Falls, Wisconsin,” said Sister Lisa Anderson. “We were trying to explain the need for faith. We showed them a New Era story and I said, ‘This is about a teenage kid, just like you, and this is what she did.’ And I gave them the magazine to read, and they really liked it. I think it’s essential when you’re teaching teenagers that they can see kids their own age. It impressed them that there were real-life stories they could compare themselves to.”
Soon afterward, Kim and Jan were baptized.
Elder Gary G. Johnson recalled an experience that happened in the college town of Mankato, a community nestled in farmland on the banks of the Minnesota River.
“We baptized a woman, Gayle Von Ohlen, and her 12-year-old son, John Chambard. As a baptism present, we gave him a subscription to the New Era, and he really liked it. He was impressed with the way it was written, and I think he was amazed that there was so much about spiritual matters in a teenage magazine. His mother was impressed too. The New Era helps kids feel like they’re a part of something.”
Success with the magazines wasn’t just limited to the New Era, of course. Missionaries also found that the Ensign, the Friend, and the Church News can be powerful tools in proselyting, preaching, and fellowshipping.
Missionaries have also handed out magazines at the University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire, at a booth at the Dakota County Fair, at a mall in Brainerd, Minnesota, and have (with permission) distributed magazines to medical waiting rooms in Rochester, Minnesota. They have given magazines to libraries, placed them in laundromats, and donated them to a hospital run by another church. They have handed out magazines along with missionary pamphlets, given them to long-term investigators who have already heard the discussions, and pointed out articles about the Book of Mormon to those who are reading it. They’ve even loaned the magazines to a Sunday School teacher of another faith who uses them regularly.
Perhaps it was Elder Gary Barnson who gave the best summary of the use of magazines by missionaries: “It’s a great way to start a conversation. As soon as you show them the magazine, they’ve got it out of your hands, they’re looking through it asking questions. And I enjoy reading them myself. I don’t know how many times I’ve been reading the New Era or the Ensign and I’ve felt the Spirit so strongly I started crying. I just hope and pray that, when we give them one of the magazines, the same spirit might touch the people we teach.”