Should I go on a full-time mission now or should I wait until the world has returned to normal after the COVID-19 Pandemic? This is a question worth considering. President Nelson gave us some counsel concerning making decisions in the April 2020 General Conference. He said that personal revelation . . .“ will help you know how to move ahead with your life, what to do during times of crisis, and how to discern and avoid the temptations and the deceptions of the adversary.” 1 Making the decision when to serve a full-time mission requires you to study it out in your mind and then ask for personal revelation.
Doctrine and Covenants 9:8 says, “study it out in your mind, then you must ask [God] if it be right, and if it is right [God] will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right”. As mission leaders for the India New Delhi Mission, we want to help you study it out in your mind by addressing two common questions being asked by others who are considering serving right now: (1) “What will I be doing?” and (2) “How is missionary work different?”
What will I Be Doing?
No matter where or when you serve as a missionary, your purpose is the same: “Invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.”2 Missionaries search for those who are seeking the truth, teach those who are ready to receive the truth, and baptize those who are willing to make covenants with God and progress toward eternal life.
A typical day in the life of a missionary in India New Delhi Mission is as follows: rise at 6:30 a.m., exercise, eat breakfast, personal study, companion planning, companion study, proselyting and teaching, lunch; more study, proselyting and teaching, dinner, wrap-up and prepare for the next day; bedtime at 10:30 pm. It is a full day of following the guidance of the Holy Ghost as they prepare for and then go out to find and teach. Even during this pandemic, the missionary schedule did not change.
How is Missionary Work Different?
During the last 6 months, how we go about finding and teaching is the main way missionary work has changed. Pre COVID-19 we found people to teach through member referrals, meeting people on the street, and knocking on doors. The restrictions imposed on us by COVID19 prevent us from meeting people on the street and knocking on their doors. However, we can still find through members and social media referrals. For example, instead of walking down the street and seeking guidance from the Holy Ghost on who to talk to, we scroll through Facebook and seek to know through the Holy Ghost who we should contact. We also create our own posts to invite them to come unto Christ. Instead of knocking on individual doors, we now receive referrals from people who have seen a Facebook ad from the Church and have requested to know more. This is exciting because these people have been prepared to hear the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Prior to COVID-19, a common goal for a missionary companionship was to talk to 20 people each day. With social media, a missionary companionship has the possibility of communicating with hundreds of people each day. In 1839 the Lord, through the Prophet Joseph Smith said, “For there are many yet on the earth among all sects, parties, and denominations, . . . who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it.“3 Through technology, the mandate to take the gospel to all the world is becoming a reality.
Along with using technology to find people to teach, we also use technology to teach the gospel. Before we taught lessons in peoples’ homes, in the church, or at another convenient location and they typically lasted 45 minutes. Often, we would travel some distance to get to their homes to only find out they were not available and have to go to a plan B. Now, we teach via video conference and our lessons are about 10 to 15 minutes. Sometimes we call for a scheduled lesson and find out they are not available, but because of technology, it isn’t that big of a deal to find someone else to contact. In addition to formal lessons, we also teach a lot of short lessons which we call micro lessons. When someone says they do not have time, we are ready with a quick scripture thought and an invitation for them to meet with us another time.
In summary, there are two ways in which missionary work has changed: 1. We use technology to find people, many of whom have already expressed an interest in learning the gospel, and 2. We teach shorter lessons via video conference.
Statements from Currently Serving Missionaries
To help you further “study it out in your mind” we have included some statements by our missionaries currently serving.
The missionary work never stopped when the pandemic hit. Even in lockdown we are doing the Lord's work through technology. Every day we have teaching appointments with new people and with members. We have an investigator that speaks a different language than we speak. Sometimes we can bring members into our video chat to translate, but other times we cannot. But with Google translate we can text him the translations in WhatsApp. Now he is understanding our messages. The Lord promises us in Matthew: 28:20 'and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.' He will be with us in all our situations and in all times. Elder Prasanna Salapu
It is really an interesting time to be on a mission. When there are trials and chaos all around, many people begin to search for God. As a missionary, I get to witness how the Lord gathers his children to his fold using social media. When I find them, I help them see the Lord’s hand in their life. And the spirit is with them testifying that what we teach is true. It is a blessing to be a part of this marvellous work in bringing His children back to him in these tough times. We experience a great joy and peace as we serve. I love it. Elder Avinash Austin
I received my mission call during the lockdown period, and I was worried about going on a mission during this time. I was excited to go the MTC but then I learned I would take online MTC. This was not what I had planned but it turned out great. I felt the spirit during my online MTC course of 19 days, even though we are learning and teaching through technology. We all are instrument in God's hand. President Henry B. Eyring said; 'He invites you to the work. He joins you in it. He has in place a plan for your service. And even as you sacrifice, you will feel joy as you help others rise to be ready for His coming.'4 Elder Sakthivel Doraikannan
I came on my mission on 14 November 2019 and then had to go home for some medical issues. While I was receiving treatment, I kept praying to know if I should go back on my mission or not. And then the pandemic happened, and I became discouraged, but I did not stop praying. My answer came through a sweet feeling of peace which I recognized was from God that I should go back. The first few days back I did not feel prepared for this kind of mission. Previously we knocked on doors trying to find people to teach but now we were in the apartment contacting many people which we received as referrals. As we got to know the people, we could see that many felt abandoned and depressed during this pandemic and they wanted that sense of belonging you feel when you know who God is. I understand why I had that sweet sense of peace when I prayed. It is a great blessing to serve and teach during this pandemic time. Elder Joseph Joel
In missions through-out the world, we are still praying like Alma did before he went to the Zoramites, “O Lord, wilt thou grant unto us that we may have success in bringing them again unto thee in Christ. Behold, O Lord, their souls are precious . . .; therefore, give unto us, O Lord, power and wisdom that we may bring these, our brethren, again unto thee.”5 We are also praying for all those who are considering serving a mission. We testify that if you study the matter out in your mind, and then sincerely pray to know the will of God concerning whether the time to serve a full-time mission is now, you will get answer through personal revelation.
1. President Russell M Nelson, “Hear Him,” Liahona, May 2020.
2. Preach my Gospel, p.1 and D&C 42:6.
3. D&C 123:12
4. Henry B Eyering, “He Goes Before Us,” Liahona, May 2020
5. Alma 31:34-35