Ever since the Restoration of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in 1830, Missionary work as been a monumental movement amongst the Saints.
Unlike the world-wide Church that we all see today, the work began to sprout around the area of its humble beginnings, Palmyra New York. The Missionary efforts then began to move forward and abroad into Canada, Eastern Europe, and many Polynesians islands.
The male members, then, where ask through revelation to go on Missions to these various areas of the world. At the time males where a lot older and usually had a family to take care of. Eventually, even the apostle served on missions including the prophet Joseph Smith himself. The work move swiftly as as people where interested in what the American Mormon Missionaries had to say. Thousands upon thousands got baptized and confirmed members of the restore church and slowly but surely the church became a worldwide church.
The prophesy given by the Prophet Joseph Smith continues to be true every day. The Prophesy is known as the “Standard of Truth” which states,
“The Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing, persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny many defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited very clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done.” (1. Joseph Smith Jr., History of the Church, 4:540.)
So while we wait for Jehovah to say, “the work is done”, the work must continue even though must of the prophesy has been fulfilled.
Most of the growth of the church,was and is, do to Missionary work. Though the gospel has remain the same, the less efficient good old door to door approach has changed (not that there is anything wrong with tracking) to a broader spectrum.
Many millions have seen the white shirts and ties and now more than ever, skirts and the nice blouse with the black name tags on knocking doors and sharing the message of truth. But as the world changes and the church growth many of our Missionaries are being seen not on the front door, but rather, on Facebook!
That’s right, Facebook! Nope, they are not being disobedient. The work has changed dramatically or should I say, it has improve rather than change. While Missionaries still knock doors down, the work is being taken to a more social media status, sharing the gospel one post and message at a time. It is fascinating to see that one of our Missionaries here in Gainesville, Florida, can share and teach the Gospel to a gentleman searching for the true Church in the country of Ghana!
INTERVIEW WITH THE MISSIONARIES
I recently had an interview with two of the eight great missionaries in our ward, Sister Whetstone (Modesto, California) and her companion which she is training, Sister Montgomery (Twin Falls, Idaho), to find out the new “technical” improvements.
Sister Whetstone and Sister Montgomery, mention how in their Mission after a Missionary has been trained for two transfers, (12 weeks) they get to become “Facebook Missionaries.” They then, set account on Facebook using the regular Facebook registration. They are allowed to add investigators, ward members, family and friends. Though they are not allowed to respond back and forth with friends and family, they can chat with those searching for truth.
I thought that there was another new addition to this which in my days of service, were, well, not so popular. Missionaries are able to add their whole name (after Elder or Sister of course) not just the first name! This might not be such a big deal but for those who have serve, we know that our first name is out of the picture.
Though it was once forbidden, using social media is a great way to share the gospel for Missionaries. Sister Whetstone said; many who they meet thru Facebook feel more comfortable in learning through a chat room or social media; they prefer asking questions that way, because, gives them flexibility to ask whatever they want and not having to schedule any meetings or have an “awkward moment”. In many ways, this should reduce the lac of connection with an investigator when they go A-Wall (which happens to often) and it gives the missionaries and easier access for them to stay connected with them.
The Sister missionaries mention that an Elder on their Mission was befriended by a certain lady in Facebook. He began to share the gospel and answer
all her questions. Parter being taught for a while, the Elders sent her information to missionaries who were closer to her area. Just a few weeks ago the lady got baptized and became a member of the church. The exciting part about this, was that the lady was living in England the whole time! Amazing! She was being taught Eternal truth from a young man in a different continent! Absolutely Amazing! Think about for a second.
Facebook Missionaries can teach anyone, any where. Eventually they do have to refer those they teach to missionaries who are closest to the investigator, but at least they get to plant seeds and teach great principles.
Sister whetstone herself has been teaching a gentleman from Ghana along with her companion. He began to learn from a friend, then that friend referred him to Sister Whetstone through Facebook. He has now gone to church several times and hopefully he will get baptized soon.
Facebook Missionaries are great because they can also reach people where missionaries may not be serving or are not around. When I was a little kid my family move a lot from Venezuela and Colombia. There was an area where we lived called “Puerto Colombia”, in Barranquilla. Being South America, the dominate religion was Catholic and even though the LDS Church was around in Colombia and Barranquilla, there was not a meeting-house around us. Now, Barranquilla is expecting it’s very own Temple.
Now, I’m not saying the growth of the church there was due to social media, but what I am saying that social media for Missionaries or what I like to call “missionary media” can help families like mine that are in various places of the world learn about the gospel.
If there is a game changer in Missionary work, it would be the iPad Mini! Although not every Mission has them, Missionaries that are in our Mission area, are touching and teaching with their Retina screens more than with their nice leather-bound script.
The iPad Mini for Missionaries has amazing features like the customized area Book, where Missionaries keep all the records of those they teach and got baptized. They also have a new Missionary digital planner. Digital planners might be something we all take for granted but for a Missionary, planning is key to how, their morning, day, night, week, month, year and mission goes. At the end of my mission I was able to keep all my paper planner as a great source of memory. I can loo back and see what I did a specific day of my mission.
But is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and Apple that got together to creat this unique working machine specifically for the work. In the planner, Missionaries can input anything about an investigator or members they want in order to keep record. They can also have an easy referral exchange system. Let me see if I can explain this better.
If Missionary A found someone, let’s call them Linda and Feo, in the streets and they become interested in the message, the Missionaries will then ask for their address, phone etc, right. But Linda and Feo live just 5 blocks outside of the missionaries area or like in my old case, five blocks to far into another Mission. Missionary A, can then Simply find the Missionary B in their iPad Mini and transfer all their information about Linda and Feo! No risk in getting that investigator lost and no need for phone calls. Amazing!
Since all the records are synced into a main memory system, Missionaries cannot lose their records even if both of companions lose their iPad (that’s if they get an iPad back).
All Missionaries are always in two’s sometimes threes and this is done for their own safety. For this same reason of precaution, Missionaries are to sync each entry they make. So if a Missionary just found some one or taught a lesson, and one of them records it in their planner or Area book, the other companion will have to sync the information so that they both are aware of what they have. This also help the Mission president keep track of their work. They have to be precise and they both can’t impute the information or otherwise, the I for will double when they sync their iPad. In order to do this they have to find wi-fi, which is great because it gets the out in the public around other people, giving them the opportunity to meet others (since we all know that places with wi-fi will usually have other people.)
Because the iPad is connected to a main memory system, all operations are monitor. All the iPads also have the same password because there should not be any secrets.
The iPad is truly a blessing because missionaries can truly have access to any questions people may have. They can also show movies and videos all through the awesome Church app which has a memorabilia of doctrinal information.
THE WORK IS FOR ALL
The truth is that Missionaries are not the only ones who can share the gospel through social media, members can too. I’ll share some tips and ways you shy member Missionaries can share the gospel via media.
1. Go to Mormon.org and create a profile. Follow the steps, add a pic, share your testimony and soon enough, you will be sharing the gospel.
2. Share messages and short powerful scripture in Facebook or Twitter. That’s the beauty of tweeter and Facebook when it comes to sharing the gospel, that the message can be short and powerful. People are more attracted to quotes. Think about it, when was the last time you memorized a whole talk? But I bet you can remember a quote or two. Remember, a short quote from the heart is a statement to the soul.
3. Write a blog. I use WordPress but there are others like blogger that can really the message out there. I know, I know all is written and all is said but the reality is that there are a dozen of people who know nothing about the church or very little. But those same dozen people know you, and maybe YOU, are the source or the connection they can have to the Church….That makes you think a little different now huh?
The truth is people, that the morals of the world are worse that never before. The world is more connected now than ever before so that means that satan will work harder to get his jobs done. But is up to you to SPEAK UP about the righteous things that are of God.
The power to share the gospel is literally in our figure tips. With that said nothing can compare to the good “old” conversation and face to face from one soul to another soul. Because even missionaries who use social media, can also use Skype to share the gospel.
Please feel free to add comments or any other great ideas that you may have to share the gospel through social media.