The Joy of Missionary Service
Updated: Jan 2
One of the greatest joys we can experience in life is in fulfilling the second greatest commandment: to love others. How do we demonstrate love towards one another? By serving each other. Service is an essential part of discipleship. There are so many ways we can serve each other, ranging from simple acts of kindness to responding in miraculous ways in the eyes of the receiver. King Benjamin taught his people “when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God” (Mosiah 2:17). We too can embark in serving God by helping those around us
Christ’s life was filled with serving others. He was constantly looking out for the one. He loved the people He interacted with every day and set out to serve them and teach them. He wanted to share His Father’s message with all that were willing to listen, to help them return back to His Father’s presence. Jesus invited others to help Him in the great cause of spreading the gospel’s truth in His day, and many responded to the call to missionary service. Missionary efforts continued after Christ’s death through His authorized servants, and the gospel message was extended from the Jews to the Gentiles.
At the center of every Christian heart is the willingness to share the good news with those around us so that they too can feel God’s love and experience Christ’s Atonement in their lives. Christ WANTS us to help find those that are lost! He wants US to help gather His fold. As you read the following verses, consider the following questions: 1) What are the feelings of your heart? 2) What kind of love can motivate you to search and seek out the Lord’s sheep? 3) How can you help?
11 For thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out.
12 As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day.
13 And I will bring them out from the people, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land, and feed them upon the mountains of Israel by the rivers, and in all the inhabited places of the country.
14 I will feed them in a good pasture, and upon the high mountains of Israel shall their fold be: there shall they lie in a good fold, and in a fat pasture shall they feed upon the mountains of Israel.
15 I will feed my flock, and I will cause them to lie down, saith the Lord God.
16 I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick:
Think of what your life would be like if you didn’t know Christ and if you didn’t have His gospel. Maybe you can remember a time in your life when that was the case. Maybe you were blessed with the opportunity to know Christ and His gospel for as long as you can remember because you grew up in a household of faith. How many people do you know that are struggling through life and could use Christ’s love and Atonement right now? Those are the people you should reach out to first. I know it can be scary to be a missionary and start up a conversation about Christ. If you need help in overcoming that fear, please read How to Not Fear Missionary Work to learn more.
Today’s focus is more on motivation to go and do! I asked some of my family and friends to help me by sharing their personal experiences. Their answers range from current to past missionary service in different capacities. Please join me as we learn together and are strengthened by their experiences!
A little background about each of the individuals before you dive in.
Jim: served a two year mission in Peru. He shared the gospel with my mom and I. Thanks to his missionary spirit, my mom and I were baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Jaky: serves children in Bogota, Colombia. The goal of her group is to help children be missionaries, that the children themselves be the ones that serve other children as they experience the world together.
Josh: served a two year mission in Las Vegas, Nevada and its adjoining areas.
Elders Vander Linden, Nava, and Romney: currently serving a two year mission in Florida.
What scripture or experience motivated you to serve a mission?
Elder Vander Linden: I was praying for a while if I should serve a mission and one night I had this dream thing, everything was black, but I distinctly heard someone say, "You need to serve a mission. There are people out there that need your help."
Elder Nava: Going out with the missionaries to lessons and seeing what missionary work is actually like really inspired me to go.
Elder Romney: Honestly the things that helped me the most with coming out and serving a mission was simply having great leaders who were truly willing to invest time and energy into making sure that myself, as well as other guys in our quorum, were happy and accounted for. I also had valiant examples to look up to such as my dad and both of my brothers-in-law who all served missions.
What manifestation of the spirit did you receive soon after you were set apart as a missionary that confirmed to you that you were now an authorized servant of the lord to preach His gospel at that time period?
Jim: When President Bennett set me apart as a missionary, I left different, I was a servant of the Lord and I felt the love of Heavenly Father and that He was pleased with me. I was the first in our family to serve a mission.
Elder Romney: The biggest manifestation of the spirit was truly being able to understand church doctrine and the scriptures. I was often times lost when talking about the church simply because I didn't understand a lot of it for whatever reason. However, the second I walked into the Missionary Training Center (MTC) I felt like suddenly I was more prepared and more knowledgeable than I ever had been before.
Josh: At the beginning of my mission, I was not the best person I could be. I had a lot of soul-searching to do and a lot of praying and asking for guidance, wisdom, and forgiveness. There were many mornings when I would kneel and pray and wrestle with God as it were. There was a morning that that wrestle ceased, and I knew that I was where I needed to be. A few weeks into my mission our Bishop gave us an impossible task. He gave us a name. That was it. No address, no phone number, no age, just the name. The population of Las Vegas is almost 700,000 people. Those are not betting odds. The couple of short weeks after that assignment was given to us we were biking and stopped to talk to a lady on the sidewalk. This lady happened to be the exact person that our Bishop asked us to find. We were able to get her phone number, address, and everything that the Bishop asked us to do. This sort of miracle would typify the entirety of my two year mission. I knew that I was in the exact right place at the exact right time doing the exact right thing.
How did you stay motivated when or if you felt discouraged as a missionary?
Jim: I learned to communicate through prayer. I would go on top of the roof of our apartment and pray. He always answered my prayers.
Elder Vander Linden: I stayed motivated by saying in my head, "Our Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ have done so much for me. All I can do to repay is be the best me and serve this mission in the best ability.”
Elder Nava: I would keep thinking about how much my family needed the blessings. I also thought about someone’s salvation is on the line. I did not want to disappoint God.
Josh: I was a bit of a late bloomer on my mission. I did not leave until I was almost twenty. By today’s standards that’s almost ancient. However, that extra year of experience and maturing gave me the opportunity to know that when I left on a mission I was doing it for me. It wasn’t a decision that was made for me. It was a decision that I made. That decision I feel helped me to maintain the true spirit of a mission. There were a few times that I was honestly discouraged. There were some bad days. There were some comically bad days. But I knew that the Lord was by my side and that all of the things that I had to go through and endure would be for my good.
How would you describe the joy you felt as you saw the power of Christ’s gospel change people’s lives as they made and kept commitments and covenants with Christ?
Jim: As people accepted the gospel, I learned to love the people of Peru. We always gave thanks for the people, those who accepted the gospel, and a bond was created that will last for eternity.
Elder Vander Linden: It is the most incredible thing in the world! You can see them feel God's love for them and that they are a ton happier.
Elder Nava: So I used to sell shoes and to sell some of those for a big payout always felt great. It was a fun hobby and job. Helped a lot with my business skills. I also love and cherish baseball to this day. The minute I played it, I fell in love since I was kid. There is no shoe and no type of baseball game that can compare to the joys of sharing the restored gospel.
Josh: There is nothing quite like seeing the types of changes in people’s lives that only the gospel can bring about. In Las Vegas there is a host of people who have either made bad life decisions or have been the victim of other people’s bad decisions. Drug addicts, strippers, homeless people, all people who are completely destitute and void of any joy or happiness in their lives and thought there was no escape. Only the gospel of Jesus Christ is powerful enough to drag those people out of the depths of their misery. And it did. Every person that we taught or came across on the street recognized that there was something missing in their lives. The answers to questions like where did we come from, why are we here, and where do we go after this life gnaw at people’s souls. And the gospel of Jesus Christ has the answers to those questions.
What would you say to someone considering missionary service, full time or just in their every day life, to encourage them to do so?
Jim: As a missionary you are a representative of God the Father and Jesus Christ. You are given special gifts as a missionary. You learn how to come closer to Heavenly Father. This experience will help you grow and progress throughout your life. During this time, you dedicate your life to serve him twenty-four hours a day full time. If you are serving a part time mission it will give you the desire to serve him full time when the appropriate time comes.
Elder Nava: I would tell them it will be one of the best decisions they have ever made.
Elder Romney: If you are considering missionary work, I would challenge you to take Nike's challenge to "Just do it." If you are depressed or discouraged in life, do missionary work. If you are happy and content with life, do missionary work. There is nothing that will make you happier, and have a stronger testimony than simply sharing it with others. Everyone is good enough to share the gospel!
How did serving a mission change your life? What blessings and joys have you seen and experienced as a result?
Elder Vander Linden: Serving a mission has changed my life for the better. It has brought so much joy and happiness. It has taught me how to connect and to talk to people. It has also opened my eyes to see how much our Heavenly Father has blessed us with so many things.
Elder Romney: Serving a mission has made me happy and showed me that there is a plan for me. It has strengthened my relationship with my family, especially my little brother. We weren't fighting all the time back home by any means, but we definitely have grown way stronger as brothers than I ever thought we could. Our trust for each other has skyrocketed and we both speak openly about any topic. It has also given me more trust that anything can be accomplished if you have God on your side because trust me, only God could keep me from playing video games for two years!
Josh: I chose to serve a mission because I knew that the Lord would use me and would bless me. I have gained a testimony that cannot be shaken. I have earned lifelong friends. I have become a disciple of Jesus Christ. It was not easy, but it was worth it. I would do it all again if asked to go today.
When did you feel the need to fulfill a mission for this particular group of individuals? How did that call from the Lord come to you?
Jaky: Felt the need to perform this mission with the group of missionary children thanks to the help of my two daughters. One of them devoted herself after she completed her first communion, and we started to see that it was important to make God first in our lives and why not share the word with other children. The call from the Lord came as a result of my daughters’ experiences. He knows we can make time for God.
How have your ministering efforts changed you as a person and the lives of those you are helping?
Jaky: I have experienced the the joy, love, goodness, and mission that children can give without worrying about social conditions. There is only transparency in the heart to help, do good to others, and the mission of helping children that don’t have the opportunity to feel the warmth of love, a kind word, a hug, children that one way or another have had to suffer and fight during their lives. And not to leave behind the elderly in nursing homes, who need different types of aid like food, happiness, and companionship. One is filled with gratefulness towards God when you see so much goodness in each child’s heart.
How has Christ touched your life and their lives during this service?
Jaky: The blessing of nourishing me with wisdom and to be able to share His word that fills every life with joy. To experience that He is alive in our heart and that with Him all things are possible if we walk and trust. We are blessed with his mercy, and He makes us stronger daily as we proclaim His message of love.
What would you say to people who may be considering the same mission or might not even at this time be thinking of this mission to motivate them to act?
Jaky: We come to serve others. Who doesn’t serve doesn’t live. God will always give you many blessings. To serve, share, and experience with children is a beautiful blessing because they are the most transparent beings. That is why God allowed children to come close to Him because within them was the kingdom of God.
I am so grateful for what my family and friends shared with us. I loved reading how each of their life’s experiences brought them to the common ground of sharing the gospel message with others. For those of you who have also served missions, thank you for your service! For those of us who have found other ways to share the gospel message, let’s continue to do so! For those of you on the fence on how to share the gospel message with others, I hope that this post will inspire you to find a way! Let’s all enlist in this great call of discipleship to help Christ find and gather His sheep!
That They Might Have Joy Series