What kind of Missionary are you?
The missionary’s that are embedded in my ward gave a list that had 25 suggestions on “How to be a better Missionary.” I really appreciated that they started from the “least” space invading tactic to the most”in your face”. I took the challenge, because I really do want to be an instrument in God’s hands, I do really.
One seemingly benign challenge was to pin or place a picture of the Temple in your workplace, if that is a feasible option. I have my own “corner” office in what was once a storage room, so I put one up and it’s amazing how this picture makes the room feel “better”. More about the picture later; a second suggestion was to have a display of the book of Mormon and other scripture at your desk. I liked that one, but where I work, it is considered proselytizing, so I kept a copy in my desk and brought it out at lunch. One other suggestion was to “Give away a book of Mormon”. Now I consider this one “a space invading, in your face” option.
So during the summer, just as the Presidential election was heating up, some of my co-workers started to ask me about my faith and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. You can imagine the questions; one of our clients called and I observed that he had a very distinctive accent; he really sounded like he was from Utah. So to make small talk, I innocently asked if he was from Utah. To my surprise his answer blew me away, he said” Are you saying that I sound like a Mormon?” Wow, I wasn’t expecting that reaction, so I regained my composure and explained to him why I asked, and of course he asked if I was a Mormon. It was a very lively conversation and it ended with the question of “Do you think we will have a Mormon President”? Now all was not lost in the seemingly one sided conversation, I got a few words in edgewise. He told me of a news article he had read that stated that a large percent of Latter Day Saints live on the east coast, and there were more converts here than in the traditional western states. I think he had this conversation before.
So after that episode, I laid low, but I started to bring my Book of Mormon out of its hiding place in the drawer and put it on top of the desk. People noticed it, but they pretended not to. More people noticed the Temple picture, and some actually shared their experiences of the Temple.
So another coworker contacted me and wanted to know about “Mormons”. He asked the usual political questions and of course a few about Joseph Smith. In my own personal poll, most people who talk to me about my faith do not ask about Joseph Smith. My friend expressed a concern; he could not understand why Joseph Smith and the historical Mormons were “persecuted”. He wondered why their civil rights and constitutional rights were so blatantly violated. Wow, was this the potential “golden” investigator? I wrote about him in a previous post. I did the usual things, invite him to the Visitors Center; sent him to Mormon.org to view the “I am a Mormon” campaign to hear testimonies of “real Mormons”. I found a ward, and offered to send out the “real” missionaries. But he said “No” to most, except for the website.
I offered him a book of Mormon, and to my surprise and even him, he said yes. It took almost 3 months before he would come and pick it up. I thought about taking it to him, but I was constrained. What I realized is this, the Savior offers us many things, and it would be easy just to “wrap it up”, put a bow on it and give it to us. But from my own experience, we are like Peter attempting to walk on water. We all have to “come” as the Savior bids. So when my friend finally came to pick up the book, it was a very spiritual moment. I could hear the angels sing, and I could see his face full of expectation. So I prayed that the Lord would guide him and help him in his journey.
Now you may ask, “Has he agreed to meet with the Missionary’s?” Well so far no, and that is his choice, but I told him that the main purpose of the book of Mormon is to help to build the faith of the one who is reading it, regardless of your religious affiliation. I told him that he should read it and afterwards pray to Heavenly Father for confirmation that this is a true account, a true testimony of Jesus Christ.
Back to the picture of the Temple on my desk; about a week ago another client was visiting in my office and he noticed the Temple picture. He asked me; “Why do you have a picture of the Mormon Temple on your desk?” I thought “O Boy, I get to talk about the Temple”. Before I could answer he had invaded my personal space and looked at me rather strange, and he said “Are You a Mormon”? I said yes, I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. He started to laugh, and not just laugh; he became hysterical, almost to the point of rolling on the floor. He said”I didn’t know there were African Americans in the Mormon Church” and proceeded to laugh harder. I said; “Seriously?” He then launched into his own personal comedy routine; he thought “only Mitt” was a member. He asked how many African Americans were members of the church. Now this was a surreal moment, and honestly I felt the air “suck “out of the room. So after he regained his composure, and still giggling, I brought the conversation back to center by sharing a few things about the Temple. So after he left, I honestly felt like I had been sucker punched. Who knew that this guy was the only person on the planet who hadn’t googled the Mormon Moment?
So I said all of that to say this, “God works in mysterious ways”. The “laughing “client is the boss of the person I gave the Book of Mormon to. He called me last week and apologized for his boss’s behavior. He said that when his boss returned to his office he also asked him if he knew that there were African Americans who were members of the LDS church. I asked him, why his boss would ask him that question. It turns out that my friend corrected his boss’s assumptions and literally bore his own “fledgling “testimony of not only the Church but also of the book of Mormon. He told me that he spoke to his mother about the book, and has invited his wife to read with him. Wow, I never saw that coming. Here is a man, who in a few short weeks of study has already gained a testimony of the truth of the Book of Mormon.
Esther 4:14 For if thou altogether hold thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy fathers house shall be destroyed; and who knows whether thou are come to the kingdom for such a time as this?
I am really glad I had that experience and I look forward to more. I am learning that the goal of missionary work is so much deeper than increasing membership, it is also a guardianship that we have. Like Queen Esther, we are in a tenuous position, we have to seek out those opportunities to share the gospel and hopefully in saving a soul, we save our souls too.