Mother’s Day, my wife, Kelly, and I were sitting on our front lawn with my mother-in-law and daughter, Kaylen. We were enjoying the perfect weather and laughing at our comedian daughter when two missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints walked up. These two young men were in their early 20’s and had pledged to do much more with their lives than many Christians will in a lifetime. They sat down, we talked for about 20 minutes. During our time together, they eventually got around to asking, “What do you do for a living, Landon?” As I replied, they looked stunned and stated, “Thank you for being so kind to us missionaries. We rarely encounter that!” I began to minister to them saying, “It is my prayer that the people I disciple and minister to have such a longing to please God in their hearts that they would give 2 years of their lives to their Lord.” They left, but not before asking if they could come back again. I encouragingly agreed.
They looked stunned at my openness to be with them. But, there was something happening there that they may not have noticed, God told me to honor these young men and minister to them. Today, 4 days later, they came back at the time they said they would, shirts, ties and backpacks in tote. These young missionaries carried my groceries in and immediately began to compliment my home and my daughter. We sat down (see above) and began to talk. They asked me about my call to ministry and the door was opened. I told them about the prophetic words, the healings and the miracles. I told them about my history and my family’s involvement in ministering to the needy and the poor. I mentioned to them the pentecostal heritage I was reared in. “Landon, you are encouraging and ministering to me now,” said Elder Tharpley.
I was sitting next to two young men who aren’t receiving any college credit, tuition reimbursement or accolade for their service. They aren’t getting paid six-figures or even allowed to drink coffee to stay awake. They are required to report at 6:30 am and aren’t allowed to stop their daily ‘mission’ until 10:30 pm….7 DAYS A WEEK for TWO CALENDAR YEARS. Yet, we struggle in the American church to be faithful in corporate service half of the month.
These missionaries have taught me something…I need to step it up. I will never become a Mormon or categorize them as Christians, even though they use the Bible as step one in their conversion process. The Lord meant it when he said,
And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
The fact that other religions are willing to give up luxury, safety and even their lives for their god and Christians want to claim a Mercedes sickens me. The self-centeredness of US culture is dividing us from our God. We need to be humbled.
These young men, toward the end of our conversation, answered my question of what they were planning to do with their lives after their two year mission was complete. They both had great plans, but each held a common factor: find a good wife and serve. Intrigued and impressed by their maturity and honorable goals, I thanked them for coming by and said goodbye for a second time.
I don’t know if I’ll see these young men again, but I am glad and honored I had the chance to meet them and minister to them.