Last March, when the pandemic hit countries around the world, the church found itself in a problem. The church had 67,000 missionaries around the world, and as countries quickly implemented lockdowns, the church started working to return its missionaries to their home countries. So then… what? Instead of ending their mission time, the church encouraged them to take up mission posts in their home countries. They have done yard work for people who needed help, worked with local food banks, and many other community service projects. They also have spent a huge chunk of time doing Bible study and outreach over the internet. Guthrie, one of the returned missionaries currently serving in the United States, explained why it’s so important that they continue. He explained that the call to mission is in scripture: “‘Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.’ It’s not something we’re doing for ourselves,” Guthrie emphasized. “We’re doing it on behalf of God.”
That’s great, right?
It is great. But there’s one thing I haven’t told you. This isn’t about the Adventist Church. This is the Mormon Church.
So what about us?
Last March, when the pandemic hit countries around the world, the church found itself in a problem. The church had maybe a few thousand missionaries around the world, and as countries quickly implemented lockdowns, the church offered to return all missionaries to their home countries. Many returned. A few stayed. So then… what?
Well… from here on I can’t exactly continue copying myself, because the story changes drastically. Most of our missionaries didn’t take up mission opportunities in their home countries. The returning student missionaries just ended their term a few months early and went back home or went to college. There were a lot of youth (OK, not a lot but definitely some) who were planning on starting a year of student missions in the summer, and most of these had their plans shattered. The North American Division was simply not sending out any more missionaries while COVID lasted. And the boards of Adventist colleges and universities shuttered their Student Missionary programs and declined to provide support for students who went anyway. (Why am I in Cambodia then? Because the organization I’m serving with is not the official church organization and did not shutter its program.)
I’m sharing this because it shows where our priorities are, and it’s not in missions.
Even before the pandemic, we had some missionaries, but nowhere close to the 67,000 the Mormon church had. When was the last time you heard a sermon that encouraged people to consider mission service? When was the last time you supported a young person in your local church who wanted to be a student missionary? How many youth in your church are even considering it? Have you ever encouraged them to do so? When was the last time you prayed and cried half the night for the salvation of a neighbor or co-worker? Or had a spiritual conversation with someone at Starbucks or the checkout line at the supermarket? Can your co-workers see Jesus in your life, or do they even know you go to church?
The Most Important Thing Of All
The gospel commission is not a suggestion, it’s a command. “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.” But the life that we live is the gospel we preach, and I’m afraid for most in our church, the gospel commission–no, the gospel command–has no part in our lives.
It’s sad, knowing that thousands upon thousands during the dark ages died for the sake of that very gospel. And thousands more were separated from their family and friends because their Jesus was more precious than their life, and they could not keep it to themselves. And here we are.
For me, sharing the gospel is the most important thing of all, as I pray it is for you too. Work and school are less important. A global pandemic is certainly less important. The gospel must go on, and I know my part. Are you doing yours?