09 June 2014

Why We Serve

This was a nice little piece on National Public Radio about the Missionary Training Center in Provo, UT.

I spent 10 weeks there almost 16 years ago, entering on my 19th birthday. We spent each day in intensive language and doctrinal study, in preparation for our service as proselyting missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It remains one of the most significant experiences of my life.

The decision to go on a voluntary, 2-year church mission was not a difficult one for me. My father served a mission, as did other family and friends, so people I loved and respected had set that example for me. My closest friends from college were planning to go on missions, so there was a strong social incentive for me to serve. The most important reason, and the one I credit with making my service so meaningful, is that I had a firm conviction that the message we would share came from God.

People sometimes wonder why Mormons are sent as missionaries. We send missionaries wherever they are alowed to go. It doesn't matter whether it is a country with dominant a Christian, Buddhist, Hindu or some other religion. Our belief is that our message should be offered to everyone, and that is what we try to accomplish.

My belief in that message comes from the Holy Ghost, and I can see the progression in my understanding through different spiritual experiences that I had as a child and young man. These experiences were remarkable to me, and they came in quiet and contemplative moments. Through them I came to truly believe that:
  God knows who I am, as an individual being.
  God hears my prayers.
  Jesus Christ is my Savior, and the Savior of the world.
  The Book of Mormon is scripture, and the word of God, as is the Bible.

The truthfulness of the Book of Mormon is one of the key reasons for my desire to serve as a misisonary. My study of the Book of Mormon has led me to cherish it as a source of truth, a confirming and clarifying companion to the Bible. The fact that our Heavenly Father has provided us with additional holy word is a message worth sharing with others. Having believed that the Book of Mormon was truly of God, what other option did I have but to share it with others?

So it wasn't a hard choice, but it was my choice, and I've never regretted it. I became an adult on my mission, made wonderful friends, and most importantly, saw the hand of God in my life and the lives of others. This is why I served. In the 12 years since I returned home, I have never had reason to regret that service. I hope that my children and the young people I work with at Church will want to experience the blessing of that service. 

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