Faith: Why do missionaries sacrifice so much?
Recently our family drove to Provo Utah to drop off our 18-year-old son at the Missionary Training Center for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This MTC in Provo is one of 11 such training centers around the world designed to prepare young men, women and older couples to serve as full-time missionaries. It is basically a small college campus with classrooms, dormitories, cafeterias, auditoriums and gyms.
There are over 92,000 LDS missionaries serving all around the world in 416 specific areas, or missions. Since these missions are all over the world the gospel is taught in around 70 different languages. Usually around 200 missionaries serve in each area, and each mission is led by a mission president and his wife. Marstan, our son, was in the MTC for two weeks and then flew to his assignment in New England. He is currently serving in Connecticut, which is in his mission area.
Helping Marstan prepare to serve his mission brought back many memories and feelings from 30 years ago when I served a mission in Porto Alegre, Brazil. I remember how excited I was to teach about Jesus Christ to the people in their own language, Portuguese. I also remember being nervous, anxious and flat-out scared at the same time.
I feel a little nervous for Marstan, but mostly excited for all he will learn and how he will grow and mature. I’m also a little envious of all the experiences he will have and all the wonderful people he will meet, help, serve and bring closer to their Savior Jesus Christ.
Marstan just graduated from high school and had a good job. He has been accepted to go to college and study engineering. He loves cars, hunting, fishing, football, basketball, friends and family. So why is he putting all these things on hold for two years to serve a mission? Obviously, each missionary has his or her own reasons as to why they are serving a mission, but I believe for most it is because of their personal faith in Christ.
In the Bible, Jesus was asked “Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thy self.” This is why so many missionaries sacrifice so much in their lives: They love the Lord their God, and they also love their neighbor. We believe the definition of neighbor is anyone and everyone who we are around, strangers included.
They serve missions to bring happiness, joy and peace to their neighbors and friends across the country, or even across continents, like South America. They teach about Jesus Christ and his perfect love he has for each of us. They teach that through His atonement and resurrection we can change and become better. They teach that we can live with Him and those we love forever. This wonderful message of hope and love is what the missionaries are sharing throughout the world.
So, when you see the missionaries in your area, remember they are someone’s son or daughter from somewhere else in the world sacrificing and giving a part of their life to bring joy and peace to their fellowmen through the good word of Jesus Christ.
Stan Wagner and his wife, Mara, live in Rangely, where they are raising their three children Dillya, Marstan and Emmeree. He works at the Deserado Coal Mine and loves living in Northwest Colorado.
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