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Imagine you found a cure for cancer. How urgently would you spread the news of your discovery? Who would you tell? The gospel of Jesus Christ is the cure for so many of life's ills that Mormons want to share the good news of eternal life with the same urgency.
The Lord's Church has always been a missionary church. Jesus Christ's life was the perfect example of missionary work. During His ministry on earth, he taught the gospel at all times, in all places, and to all kinds of people. Jesus taught the educated men in the temple, the sinners, the faithful and the unbelieving. He also called apostles and other disciples to preach the gospel so more people could hear about the blessings of His gospel. Most of their preaching during Christ's life was to their own people, the Jews. After Jesus was resurrected, He visited His apostles and sent them to preach to the gentiles. He commanded them, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15).
That Mormons do missionary work is one of the Church's most recognized characteristics. Right now, tens of thousands of missionaries are walking, driving or riding their bikes around the world, handing out copies of the Book of Mormon and sharing the gospel with the people they meet. Why do these people, most of them under the age of 25, volunteer to leave their homes at their own expense and dedicate a period of their lives to preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ?
The Lord said, "proclaim my gospel from land to land, and from city to city… bear testimony in every place, unto every people" (Doctrine and Covenants 66:5,7). We take that commandment to heart and look for opportunities to share the blessings we've received from living the gospel with everyone we can. Jesus taught, "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God" (John 3:5). Knowing that certain ordinances like baptism are necessary for us to return to live with our Heavenly Father, we feel an urgent need to share this blessing with everyone we can. Our first interest as a Church—is that as many of the children of men as can, will be saved and exalted. While we work out our own salvation, we want to help those around us do the same. Because we are all sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father, the more of us that are able to learn and keep His commandments and enjoy eternal life, the happier we'll all be.
Most of the Church's missionaries are around twenty years old, though many members also volunteer to serve after they've retired. All prospective missionaries turn in applications to Church headquarters and they receive a call to a specific mission around the world. They spend a few weeks in a training center where some of them learn a new language and all of them rigorously study and practice teaching the gospel. Then they set off to their assigned locations and begin their service. Missionaries' lives are completely dedicated to sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ. They pay their own way and put off school, dating and work for two years in order to focus entirely on doing the Lord's work.
A common morning for a missionary might consist of waking up at 6:30 a.m., studying the scriptures, and meeting new people to share the gospel with. The afternoon might include discussing gospel lessons with people they meet and volunteering for service in the community. A good night has them teaching the gospel to interested individuals and helping them learn and keep God's commandments or attending a baptismal service for someone who's decided to join the Church. They return home around 9:30 p.m. and fall into bed, usually exhausted and happy.
It isn't only our full-time missionaries who share the gospel. Because we believe the gospel of Jesus Christ is the way to true happiness, we want to tell as many of our friends and family about it as we can. We believe, as Peter taught in the New Testament, that we should
Of course the most convincing testimony is the good, happy life of a person who lives according to Christ's teachings, but we also feel that sharing our individual experiences with others is a great way to invite them to come to know more about Jesus Christ.
Sharing the gospel isn't always easy, though. Many of us feel afraid of offending our friends, seeming pushy or saying something that might be misinterpreted. We gather our courage and try our best to find a way to talk about how much the gospel means to us while respecting other people's beliefs and choices. We are thrilled when friends share in the joys of living the gospel. This can happen by attending Church meetings and activities during the week and meeting with missionaries to talk about how the gospel can bless their lives. If you want to make a Mormon's day, ask if you can visit their Church. However, we love our friends whether they accept the teachings of our Church or not.
Missionaries share one thing and one thing only - the gospel of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Like Nephi, "We talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins" (2 Nephi 25:26). It may seem strange to focus so much of our lives on Jesus Christ, but the wisdom of the gospel applies to everything from the purpose of life to how we approach our work, how we relate to others, even how we take care of our bodies. The teachings of Jesus Christ have more power to bring lasting happiness than all the success and pleasure the world can offer. Every message Mormon missionaries share revolves around Him and how His Atonement and ordinances allow us to return to live with our Father in Heaven and our families in heaven.
52,000 missionaries are currently serving in 350 missions around the world. They proselytize in every country where the government and political climate allow it. Many missionaries grow to love the areas in which they serve so much that they find it harder to come home after their missions are over than it was for them to leave in the first place. They return home as informed ambassadors of the nations and cultures where they served.