The Pressures Experienced by Mormon Missionaries
One of our major initiatives is helping people witness to Mormon missionaries. In the last couple of years, we have helped hundreds of Christians witness to close to a thousand missionaries! And not just once either. People average 6-8 visits with each missionary! That’s a whole lot of seeds of God’s Word planted. (To learn more about this initiative, visit our website dedicated to this effort – pleaseopenthedoor.com.)
One of the first things we do when someone wants to witness to missionaries is to give them a glimpse of a missionary’s life and especially the pressures they feel. Like being allowed to call home only two times a year (Mother’s Day and Christmas); or mainly experiencing rejection for two years; or not being allowed to watch TV, play video games, read secular magazines or books, listen to secular music for two years. Imagine having to be with your companion 24-7, even having to go to bed at the same time and get up at the same time. Imagine trying to teach people Mormonism with only two weeks of training.
The life of a Mormon missionary is not easy. One of the reasons we experience such success in meeting with them is because we treat them kindly. We often feed them a meal or give them a ride home. Quite a few have told us no one has treated them as well as we do. (This doesn’t mean we don’t witness to them boldly and clearly. We do. But that’s the subject of a whole other post.)
The pressure on Mormon missionaries doesn’t end once they are done with their missions. Consider what President Henry B. Eyring said at last spring’s (April, 2016) General Conference. “There are things an elder, as he returns from his mission, must do to be true to his commitment to seek eternal life for himself and for those he loves. There is no more important commitment in time or in eternity than marriage. You have heard the wise counsel to make marriage a priority in early post-mission plans. The faithful priesthood servant will do it wisely.”
This is striking advice no matter what. It is especially surprising, however, in the context of their returning from their missions. After all, during their entire mission, they couldn’t date. But one of their early post-mission plans is to get married. And Eyring doesn’t make it optional. This is something missionaries “must do to be true to his commitment to seek eternal life”. A friend raised in a prominent Mormon family often relates how in one year at college, 19 different returned missionaries proposed marriage to her – most telling her that Heavenly Father had revealed to him that she was the one he was to marry! After reading Eyring’s words, a person can begin to understand how that happened.
We can laugh at this, but it’s really not a laughing matter. This little anecdote illustrates how seriously many Mormon young men take this. And how guilty many feel who don’t follow it. The more we see the pressures Mormon missionaries experience, the better we understand why a significant percentage of returned missionaries become inactive in the Mormon Church.
We have found that Mormon missionaries – both active and returned missionaries - represent a good mission field. Many are hurting and are hungering for relief. We have the soothing message of the gospel. Join us in sharing it with them.