Missionary Work

Now, as you have asked, behold, I say unto you, keep my commandments, and seek to bring forth and establish the cause of Zion.

Now, Behold, a marvelous work is about to come forth among the children of men. Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day. Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work; For behold the field is white already to harvest; and lo, he that thrusteth in his sickle with his might, the same layeth up in store that he perisheth not, but bringeth salvation to his soul; And faith, hope, charity and love, with an eye single to the glory of God, qualify him for the work. Remember faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance,patience, brotherly kindness, godliness, charity, humility,diligence. Ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. Amen.

For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward. Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness; For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward. But he that doeth not anything until he is commanded, and receiveth a commandment with doubtful heart, and keepeth it with slothfulness, the same is damned.

Missionary in Kenya

There’s a family I home teach whose son is on a mission in Kenya.  They ride a motorcycle to teach outlying areas.  Three at a time on the bike through the rain and on muddy roads.  They are in a city of 75,000 and not a road is paved in the entire city.  Sort of like Sandy, Utah right now. Comparable size and dirt roads everywhere while they do their “stimulus” spending on roadways. 

They baptized four new converts last week.  My young elder (he’s mine because I still home teach him over the internet) did two of the baptisms.  It was quite a milestone in his young life.

 
The pictures are quite interesting.  Here’s this 6 foot white, smiling kid standing with a crowd of shorter, very dark faces all with the look of joy and kinship on their countenances.  He’s sort of a spectacle to the people there.  Not only his height, but his light skin and blonde hair.  Kids ask if they can touch him (and he lets them). 
 
What an adventure this young man is on.  What fun it is to share it by reading his emails sent back home.  It reminds me of just how small the world is after all.  I guess Disney got that right….

“Schizophrenic?”

I was asked why there are sometimes “criticisms” of the church on my blog and in the books I have written.  Someone would like to know whether or not the views I advance weren’t “schizophrenic” by both criticizing and defending the church, and what my true belief about the church was.  I responded:
 
I have had many people with whom I have “ministered” as a Gospel Doctrine Teacher, Ward Mission Leader and High Councilor who have become disaffected with the church.  I’ve worked to help them come back.  What I write reflects this history with these struggling Latter-day Saints.  There are many people who have left the church (or have given up on the church) who have read what I write and come back to activity again.  
 
There are those who are in the process of realizing that the church has flaws who now want to quit.  There are people who have begun to encounter problems who just don’t know how to process them.  It doesn’t do any good if I pretend there aren’t problems.  Many of these saints have a crisis underway because they have been pretending, and now they find they cannot cope with the tension any longer.  
 
One of posts at the beginning of this blog describes what my attitude is. I recognize weaknesses, have no intention of avoiding them, and am not an apologist in the traditional sense.  But I believe in the church, accept its authority, and think its role is necessary and even critical to the work of the Lord.
 
Acknowledging the flaws is admitting the obvious.  But getting those who are discouraged, losing their faith, or have left the church to reconsider that decision is another thing.  They cannot be reached spiritually without some acknowledgment of the problems in the church.  They aren’t going to be deceived by offering a clever polemical argument. 
 
Once the varnish comes off the institution of the church, for many, faith dies. But that is not necessary.  Nor is it inevitable.  It is possible to see the frailties of men and still also see the hand of God.
 
I’ve had many conversations with what would be regarded as leading Mormon educators, writers, and authorities who have essentially lost their faith and continue to hold on to being a “Latter-day Saint” because of the culture or employment or family.  I’m trying to help them and any others in a similar spot.  I’m trying to say that the church may be flawed, but despite that, it is worthy, worthwhile, necessary and good.  I have had some success.  
 
I’ve had a number of men and women tell me that I’ve helped rescue them from their faithlessness.  What I have written has helped them balance their attitudes.  People who have had their names removed voluntarily, or who have been excommunicated, or who have drifted into inactivity have been persuaded by what I’ve written to see what they have lost by that disassociation from the Church.
 
It may be that someone who has “rose colored glasses” will find some of what I write difficult to take in, particularly if they haven’t encountered any particular criticism about the church before.  I regret when that happens.  However, all of us are going to need to confront the growing array of arguments against the church and its leadership as time goes on.  Some of the church’s most effective critics are former members.  Indeed, with the internet, the arguments against the church are multiplying, as are the number of critics. I try not to gloss over the flaws or ignore their existence or to pretend that there aren’t legitimate questions being asked about what has or is happening within the institution of the church. I’m saying that we can and should have faith anyway. The church matters and its mission has always been possible to accomplish.
 
I also want those who sense we’ve retreated from the original scope of doctrine and practice to realize the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ remains on the earth.  It is as accessible to anyone living today as it was while Joseph was here.  The failure of others does not impose any limitation upon the individual who sincerely seeks, asks and follows. We are not dependent upon others or even the institution itself to receive that fullness.  Although the ordinances offered by the church remain the foundation upon which the fullness must be built.

Raising the Bar

The name of the policy which eliminates a large population of desirous young men from serving a mission was really unfortunate.  “Raising The Bar” implies that these young men do not measure up.
Repentant young men who have been involved with serious sexual transgressions during their teens are by and large denied the opportunity to serve.  So, also, are young men with medical conditions which require significant treatment or medications. 
As a result of this program, there have been tens of thousands of young men who have not served.  The missionary force dropped from the high 60,000’s to the low 50,000’s and has remained there.  Those who have been excluded who wanted to serve have quite often felt judged and alienated as a result.  Many have either left activity or left the church altogether.  They form a body numbering now in excess of 100,000, and as they marry, have children, and raise their posterity outside the church they will eventually number in the millions.

Calling this  program “Raising The Bar” has essentially precluded a change.  You can’t “Lower The Bar” without seeming foolish, or to invite ‘ner do well’s. 

I’ve seen what this program has done to young men who wanted to serve, and who would have been allowed to serve before the program was announced.  I’ve tried to overcome their sense of rejection by the church, and have succeeded in only one case.  The others have essentially all told me that the church had rejected them and therefore they intended to stay away.