When young men and young women go out to serve missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (a faith often inadvertently referred to as the Mormon Church), they are religious ambassadors who present a message that brings purpose and peace. When these missionaries return home, they are equipped with specific skills and talents that help them connect and communicate with others. Many former Mormon missionaries use their missionary skills (in addition to formal education and training) to serve the United States as ambassadors to other countries.
What Makes Mormon Missionaries Good Ambassadors?
Mormon missionaries make great ambassadors because they’ve been ambassadors before. The message they share on Mormon missions is somewhat different than that of an international ambassador, but the overall basics are the same.
While serving missions, they learn how to approach strangers and talk to them candidly. They learn how to connect with people and how to share and stand up for what they believe. The social and communications skills that they learn in the field help to prepare them for the rest of their lives.
Many Mormon missionaries are called to serve missions outside of the United States. (Mormon missionaries typically serve anywhere from 18 to 24 months). Missionaries who serve in foreign countries learn how to adapt to a different culture and usually learn a second language. Even missionaries who serve within the United States have to adapt to different environments and interact with different groups of people and cultures. This cross-cultural interaction helps to develop missionaries into young men and women who are open-minded and aware of the challenges facing specific demographics around the world.
How Many Mormon Ambassadors Are There?
Former Mormon missionaries have been asked to serve in ambassadorships for decades. Here are some of the Mormons who are currently serving as ambassadors:
Matthew Tueller: next ambassador to Yemen, current ambassador to Kuwait
R. Stephen Beecroft: ambassador to Iraq, former ambassador to Jordan
Deborah K. Jones: ambassador to Libya
Many more ambassadors are members of The Church of Jesus Christ, and they’ve found generally positive reception of their religious beliefs worldwide. Tueller has expressed that he’s felt little criticism for his faith. When he lives in countries that have a strong religious background, he’s found that the other diplomats generally respect his decisions to abstain from alcohol and tobacco for religious reasons.
When Mormon missionaries serve their missions, they dedicate their life to proselytizing and sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ. The truth is that each of us has a mission to fulfill throughout our lifetime. Some are formal missions, such as religious callings or even government assignments. The Church of Jesus Christ encourages its members to support and serve their respective governments as best they can, and for some Mormons this means leaving their families to go and live in a conflict-ridden country for a time.
Most of our missions throughout life will not include the acceptance of formal invitations. Most of our missions will be callings to raise families, serve in our communities, and befriend the lonely. Many returned Mormon missionaries have a special bent for government service, and they are proud to serve both their country and their God. May each of us find those opportunities to serve both religiously and civilly.
Charlotte graduated from Brigham Young University with a bachelor's degree in English, with an emphasis in editing. During her education she interned with the Neal A.Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship, BYU Publications, and the New Era magazine. Charlotte currently lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband and son. She's a stay-at-home-mom and has been able to keep up her writing through maintaining a personal blog (smallandtrivial.blogspot.com).