As most of you would agree, it’s not every day you can link into a global online newspaper and find a major story about a day in the life of an LDS missionary. Let’s face it; it’s hard enough for our boys and girls to get people to open doors to share their gospel message, let alone to have these same people bring this kind of story to their breakfast table.
But this week that’s exactly what I did. This week the New York Times, in their Education section, ran a 5-page spread titled ‘At Age 19, From Utah to Uganda’, that follows two LDS missionaries serving in Uganda.
Now, some of you may feel the hackles rise a bit at the mention of our missionaries and Uganda in the same sentence; bringing back memories of the recent satirical Broadway musical “The Book of Mormon”, depicting the follies of two Mormon missionaries in the wilds of that country. But before you discredit this article as riding on the back of this non-LDS production, I suggest it would be well worth reading.
I found the article to be very well balanced in its depiction of our missionaries. Indeed, it follows in some depth their preparation to serve, their training in the MTC, their incredible commitment to the work and maintains faith in their spiritual maturity.
At the same time it shows the human side of our boys in regards to their life before their missions, their struggles with separation from family and friends during, and the temptations that surround them whilst serving.
This article is most certainly timely when considering the current bid by Mitt Romney for the US Republican Presidential nomination. Romney’s rise to prominence has brought the church out of obscurity. As Josh Kron states, “Mormonism is basking in the mainstream spotlight” at the moment.
Up until now Mitt Romney has been low key about his Mormon roots, but with reports emerging that he is on the brink of being nominated, and with some prominent evangelicals now supporting him, that will probably change.
So, whether it’s riding on the back of a popular musical, or even adding depth to current political events, this New York Times article has certainly given its many readers the opportunity to reflect on Mormon religious practices over their morning coffee. It may even help to open a few more doors to our hard working sons and daughters.
In this light it may be time for us to start talking about these same things with those of our friends and acquaintances who are not of our faith. Like Romney, maybe it’s time to step into that spotlight.