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The writers of this blog are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. We do not represent the Church as a whole and so our posts will represent our own personal feelings, experiences, and opinions. We are grateful for the chance to share some of our insights as Christians. We welcome comments from members of the Church about our postings. We also welcome questions from readers that are not of our faith. We will not argue doctrinal points, but will to the best of our ability answer honest questions from those wanting to understand our beliefs.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Youth Serving Missions

Youth LDS Missionaries

We have not had a posting on this blog in a long time, so I figured I would get things going again. My brother recently received a mission call to serve in Brazil Manaus area. I thought this might be a good opportunity to share some thoughts about missionary work. In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, youth, particularly young men, are encouraged to serve a 2-year mission. The process of prepartion is quite interesting from outside the Church looking in.

Preparing to serve a mission

Youth are encouraged and taught from a young age faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ, daily prayer and scripture study, service to others, and clean and chaste living. While many, both religioius and non-religious, might agree with this because of the discipline that is instilled in young persons in the Church, for the youth of the Church it serves as so much more. While these benefits are very diverse and cannot be fully listed here, I would suggest a few of these benefits are: 1, trust in something bigger than one's self; 2, committment to principle; and 3, service to others. In more religious terms: 1, trust in God; 2, obedience to the commandments of God; 3, recognition and sharing blessings from God with others. All of these serve greatly for the missionary work ahead of many youth.

Trust in God

Parents in the Church teach their children right and wrong, like other parents all over the world; parents in the Church teach their children to pray to God, like some parents in the world; parents in the Church teach their children that all they have and are is from a loving Heavenly Father whose only desire is the well-being and happiness of His children. Parents do not teach by compulsion, but as God has directed, with "love unfeigned" and "long-suffering" and with respect to agency of their children. This constant guidance, which often includes many bumps on the road, sometimes detours, and other difficulties through childhood serve to the development of each child's individual faith and testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This upbringing certainly characterized my youth as well as that of my brother's. Such delevelopment of faith and trust in God leads directly to submission to His will.

Obedience to the commandments of God

Many non-religious, and some religious, find the requirements of living one's religion restrictive and robotic. Such views miss the point that has lead us to our current status of submission to the will of God. That point is what we have already mentioned above; a deep and abiding faith in God. So, let us step back for a moment and assume for just moment that I am right. That my faith in God is true and well-placed; and that my faith in God informs me that He would have me do certain things to more fully enjoy His companionship and avoid the heartache and pitfalls that mistakes and miscues in this life will surely lead. Would I not therefore be foolish not to follow the Lord's handbook to happiness, i.e. obedience to His commandments. Thus, the youth of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, with their testimonies of God and His Beloved Son, Jesus Chirst, burning bright seek to go about their days walking humbly in submission to His commandments. Such a life includes abstinence from sex before marriage, viewing and listening to clean and virtuous media, and rejecting drugs and alcohol, among many other things. Can anyone, religious or not, really fault such a committed and disciplined life? Do not examples abound all over the world where such committment to God would lead to happier, healthier, safer, smarter, and friendlier children, families, neighborhoods, cities, states, and countries?

Recognition and sharing blessings from God with others

Lastly, when we live in accordance with the commandments, we find ourselves in prosperous circumstances. If not financially, then socially; if not socially, then spiritually; if not spiritually then mentally; if not mentally, then personally; or any combination of these blessings, each of which provides us an opportunity to serve others and bless their lives once we recognize where they come from. Let me interject here that when a young man or woman in the Church has already visited the first two things I have mentioned, that such a person will know by certainty where their blessings come from. That said, the Youth of the Church that recognize their blessings come from God feel an impulse to share what they have with others. Thus, a young man or woman with decent financial means might dedicate a portion of their income to the poor that are in need of food or shelter. Or a young man or woman that has been blessed socially with friends abounding will feel an impulse to invite the kid off on his own to join his group of friends. And on and on it goes.

With all of this said, some might have read this far and think this is only in the most ideal of situations and is never seen in reality. As I mentioned above, my brother is currently serving a mission. The process of preparation I have mentioned above aptly describes my brother's preparation for his mission. I have wathced him grow up and develop in these 3 things I have mentioned above, which has prepared him for a great service in sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with others. Of the millions of youth in the Church, I am doubtful he is the only youth in the Church to have gone through these three parts of their development.