Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (often misnamed Mormons) believe that God is the father of all of our spirits. Each of us lived with God, our Heavenly Father, before we were born. Paul wrote, “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God” (Romans 8:16). We are all spiritual children of God and are, therefore, brothers and sisters to each other. This is what Mormon missionaries go out to the world to teach.
One reason Latter-day Saints (“Mormons”) build temples is to help each of us, the children of God, to commune with our Heavenly Father and to ultimately qualify ourselves to return to Him after this life. Mormons believe that we can speak to God through prayer and that He answers those prayers by communicating feelings to our hearts and thoughts to our minds, as well as through the actions of others. The reality of our relationship with God and our ability to speak with Him as our Father are two major messages The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints shares with the world, sometimes through Mormon missionaries.
Mormon missionaries are messengers of the gospel of Jesus Christ. These missionaries are usually single young men and women between the ages of 19–26, though couples in their retirement years or older single sisters may also volunteer. The official website of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints reports that more than 52,480 missionaries are currently volunteering in 340 geographical areas, called missions. Most Mormon missionaries volunteer for a period of 18–24 months.
Mormon missionaries, of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, are not paid for their extensive service. On the contrary, they are expected to cover their living expenses while serving as full-time volunteers for the Church. Many give up (or at least postpone) scholarships, careers, and other opportunities to volunteer. They come from all over the world and go wherever they are asked to go—from New York to New Delhi.
Once assigned to a mission, a local mission president (also a volunteer) coordinates which missionaries will serve in a given city or region at a given time. Every missionary spends 24 hours of every day with another missionary of the same gender; these duos, called companionships, are assigned by the mission president. Companionships and geographic assignments may be rotated by the mission president every few months.
Mormon missionaries go wherever they may be assigned, prepared to serve God wholeheartedly. Roughly 90 hours of an average week are dedicated to study, sharing the words of Christ, inviting those interested in the Church to learn more, and helping those around them with everything from yard work to overcoming addiction to disaster cleanup to researching family history.
As part of their weekly routine, Mormon missionaries set aside eight hours to complete any necessary preparations for the coming week. Grocery shopping, laundry, letters or emails to family, and some needed recreation or down time are all completed within these few hours each week.
Missionaries abide by a strict code of conduct. For their 18–24-month term of service, they avoid the entertainment, parties, and dating relationships common to others their age. They are expected to be up by 6:30 in the morning and in bed by 10:30 at night. At least two hours of every morning are devoted to studying the scriptures. Men dress in suits and women in skirts. All missionaries wear black name tags that identify them as servants of God. Other rules, including some cultural boundaries, are designated by the leadership of the Church and the local mission president.
Despite the grueling schedule and what might be seen as a strict code of conduct, Mormon missionary work is also very rewarding. There is great satisfaction in witnessing people—our brothers and sisters—make changes that will improve their lives. Missionaries have helped alcoholics get away from drinking, tense families find harmony, and doubting and depressed hearts find faith and hope through Jesus Christ.
Like the missionaries of the New Testament, Mormon missionaries are instructed to teach, preach, and expound the doctrines of Christ. They testify from their own experiences how God has reached out to them in their lives and answered their prayers. They also testify how they know that God has a plan for each of us, how families can be sealed together through the eternities in holy temples, and how each of us can receive forgiveness and strength through the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
If you’d like to know more about missionaries or their message, they’d be happy to speak with you. Feel free to stop them when you see them to ask whatever questions may be in your heart. If you’d prefer, you can also chat with a missionary online or schedule a time for some missionaries to come by your home. They appreciate the opportunity to share with you, their brother or sister, what our Heavenly Father expects of us and how we can return to our eternal home.
Learn more about Jesus Christ in Mormonism.
Learn more about the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Dallin Kimble is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (“Mormon”). He is a devoted husband and father of two, a freelance writer, a leader is his local town and a graduate student of Public Administration at Arizona State University. More of his writing can be found on his blog at principlesofthegospel.blogspot.com.