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ldsmissionariesI’ve been very busy working with our full-time Mormon missionaries in our ward the past couple months and have been very impressed with all the work and effort they put in.  It has been a while since I have been this heavily involved in missionary service.  Some days can be very awesome and others can be very trying.

I am reminded of experiences on my mission when I meet or speak with the sister missionaries in our ward (congregation) nearly every day.  There are many, many people out there who have little or no concept of who God is and who Jesus Christ is.  Many people when asked say they are Christian, but when speaking more in depth they rarely pray and have little or no concept of what the Atonement of Jesus Christ is and how it applies to our lives.  I have been re-ignited in my faith as to the importance of this message by actively going out and meeting people in my community and seeing the challenges they face and the struggles they have trying to rely on their own strength rather than Gods.

This week was particularly difficult for us.  We had been working with a great family the past few weeks who had begun to embrace reading scripture together, coming to church, and praying as a family.  The father of the home even made the comment of how different his kids were (in a good way) since coming to church.  However, things changed pretty quickly when his ex-wife heard about her kids going to the Mormon church and meeting with the Mormon missionaries.  Although she hasn’t ever gone to church (according to her kids and ex-husband), she was very passionate that they quit going to the Mormon church and start going to the Catholic church she was raised in.  Needless to say, when the sister missionaries went to visit Rick and his kids and found out about their mother’s concerns and also that the kids and Rick wouldn’t continue on with lessons, we were pretty discouraged.

It was during times like this when I was on my mission that I reflected on the inspiring times in my life so I could stay positive.  With this in mind, I thought I’d share an inspiring story from my Mormon mission in Frankfurt, Germany during the mid ’90s.

Inspiring Mormon Missionary Story

The most inspiring moment on my mission was working with a man named Herr Neuhaus.  Hr. Neuhaus was an older gentleman who had lived a very rough life.  When we came across him, he was very angry at God.  His wife had recently passed away and he was very depressed.  Life for him when we met him was drinking and smoking and staring at the TV.

I learned on my mission in Germany to be very direct and bold.  That was their style over there.  So when we first met him and he bellowed out that he didn’t have any interest (they all said that initially), I told him that he might not have interest, but God had interest in him.

He replied that “God doesn’t love me…” which gave me a window into his tortured soul.  I immediately felt compassion for him and I feel that by the grace of God I was able to feel for Hr Neuhaus a small amount of love that God has for each of us as sinners.

I engaged him in conversation on why he thought God didn’t love him.  This is when he shared with us his story of his wife dying despite all the prayers he had offered in her behalf that she would live.

That first day, we just listened mainly and I really felt so awful for him.  However, I knew that through the power of the Atonement, he could be made whole again and Jesus could fill him up with love once more.

I testified of this and challenged him to read the Book of Mormon, especially the parts on the Atonement of Christ and faith.  I promised him if he did this that he would feel God’s love once more.

To make a long story short, God was true to His promise to those who show faith in Him.  Not only was Hr Neuhaus healed from his suffering, but he was also healed from his addictions of smoking and drinking.  I felt honored when he asked me if he would baptize him, which I did on May 11, 1997.

This was the only person I baptized while I was on my mission.

When I reflect on this experience, I am once again reminded of the importance of being a witness for Jesus Christ.  I have seen personally and many times have witnessed other people such as Hr Neuhaus who chose to embrace the teachings and gospel of Jesus.  Their lives are renewed and the cares and struggles of this world are swallowed up in hope and deliverance.

Please take a moment and share your favorite missionary experience either as a missionary, or a pastor, or just in your daily walk with God.  I think it would be very beneficial for other readers of this blog.

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Recently, as most of you heard, the famous reporter from 60 Minutes, Mike Wallace, passed away.

Really, my only memory of him is the first interview he did with former Mormon prophet, Gordon B Hinckley.

Wallace describes his encounter with President Hinckley as being very open and different from any other Mormon prophet in the past.  He said that in the past, he would be turned down for an interview and that the Mormons.  In my opinion, this gave the impression of being closed off to the world and out of touch.

As a Mormon myself, I remember feeling skeptical about talking about my faith openly because that was the overall view of leaders and most Mormons back then.

When President Hinckley came out in the open in not only one, but a few interviews with Mike Wallace, which were aired nationally on 60 minutes, he answered the tough questions head-on and with confidence and cheerfulness.  I remember being a senior in high school and getting excited about my faith and the prospect of going on a Mormon mission in a year to share it.

While I was on my mission in Frankfurt, Germany, President Hinckley’s message “This Thing wasn’t done in a corner“. In this talk, he compares Paul’s encounter with King Agrippa in the Bible and how he was so bold in sharing the gospel publicly.  This talk stood out to me and re-energized me once again as he described his interview with Mike Wallace and how we shouldn’t be ashamed of the gospel and sharing the message.

I don’t have any references other than observation to back this up, but after these series of interviews, Mormons worldwide saw their leader as he extensively traveled and gave interviews publicly.  I feel that all of us gained more confidence to speak of our faith more openly.

As the Mormons were seen more in the media, I feel people gradually came to accept Mormons and try to understand who we are.  I feel that Mormons began to do the same for other people.  As this synergy occurred, other things happened such as the Olympics in Salt Lake City, Mitt Romney coming in and saving the Olympics, Romney winning governor of Massachusetts, and now Romney going on to become the eventual Republican nominee.

I think that hadn’t President Hinckley taken on that interview with Mike Wallace it would have been much harder for Romney to be where he is today.

Cleanse your Soul with Grace for Grace “Spiritual SOAP”

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