A few days in the life of a guy trying to be a member missionary

Bottom line:  I don’t do nearly enough to discuss the Gospel with the people around me.  But every once in a while I have a few interesting days where I do some good things.  Read on to hear about one Latter-day Saint handing out a Book of Mormon to a Palestinian Muslim and offering a blessing to a non-member co-worker who knows nothing about the Church.

My job involves a lot of travel.  Last week, I was in Washington DC at a hotel meeting customers 12 hours a day.  After a long day, one of my co-workers turns to me and says, “I know you don’t drink, but would you like to join us and sit around a chat?”  But of course.

So, we’re sitting there, and she asks, “so, what do you Mormons do in those temples?”  It seems her invitation had a purpose.  I tell her we do work for the dead, and I explain that the dead can’t do the work themselves, so we serve as proxies.  It’s a long conversation, she truly is interested.   The other people at the table are sipping wine and talking about something else. But after her question is answered, she loses interest in the Gospel and wants to go back to discussing our customers.  One little seed planted, I suppose.

The next day, one of my co-workers staggers out of a meeting with some customers and collapses next to me.  I am sitting in an anteroom waiting for another meeting.  He says he has pain shooting from his hips down to his feet.  He is in so much pain he cannot even sit in the meeting anymore.  Somebody calls a doctor.  People are milling about waiting for meetings.  I feel something I have never felt before:  an overwhelming desire to reach out and give the guy a blessing.

Now let me stop right here and say I have never given a non-member co-worker a blessing before.  I have never really felt a desire to do such a thing.  I usually offer blessings to people in my ward or family after being asked.  I have no delusions that I can magically go around healing people left and right, because I feel that such healing depends on faith from both parties, both the blesser and the blessee.

But I could not deny that I was being prompted to offer this man in pain a blessing.  It was almost as if my arms were being drawn to his head.  I could not get rid of the image that this was something I was supposed to do.

I sat there paralyzed for about 15 minutes, hoping that the room would clear out.  There were about a dozen people there, several of them talking to my friend and offering him comfort. Meanwhile, he was grimacing in pain.

Finally, the room emptied.  I turned to my still-suffering friend and said, “in my church, we offer people blessings when they are sick.  Would you like a blessing?”

“At this point, I’ll take whatever you got — morphine, Tylenol, aspirin, or a blessing,”  my friend said.

I had no consecrated oil.  But I got to my feet, placed my hands on his head, and gave him a blessing in the name of Jesus Christ.

I sat down.  He said thank you but was still grimacing.  Hmmm.  No immediate miracle.  Apparently a doctor had been located.  A few other people came to get him, and he hobbled off with them.

I called him later that night, and he was in his hotel room.  He said he really appreciated the blessing, which he said did make him feel better.  He was very sincere and was in less pain. He said he was taking a painkiller.  The next day he was able to get to the airport and fly back home.  He sent an e-mail to me saying he got home fine and that he again really appreciated the blessing.

So, the next day I headed off to the airport.  I got in the taxi, and there was a young man driving, college age, with an accent.  We talked about college (he was going to a local community college and working as a taxi driver part-time), and then he said, “yeah, my parents are very strict. You see, we are from Palestine.”

“Really?  I have actually known a lot of people from Palestine, both Muslims and Christians.”

“Wow, not a lot of people know there are Christians in Palestine.  I have friends who are Christian.  I am a Muslim, but I like to talk about religion and learn.”

“Well, you know, I am Mormon.  We believe Jesus Christ is the son of God, but we also believe that there were prophets after Jesus.”

“Really, I’ve never heard a Christian say that before.”

So, I gave him the five-minute version of the history of the Church.  We talked about modesty and chastity (it was a very nice change to talk to a young man who said proudly, “I will remain a virgin until I am married” — and I told him that was a great goal).

As I got out of the taxi, I reached into my briefcase and gave him an English-language Book of Mormon.  “There are a lot of good things in this book.  It will tell you about our church,” I said.  He thanked me and drove off.

So, a few seeds planted, a use of the Melchizedek priesthood, and another Book of Mormon handed out.  Another few days in the life of a member missionary.

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About Geoff B.

Geoff B graduated from Stanford University (class of 1985) and worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. He has held many callings in the Church, but his favorite calling is father and husband. Geoff is active in martial arts and loves hiking and skiing. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

10 thoughts on “A few days in the life of a guy trying to be a member missionary

  1. It’s an interesting question since I actually have known lots of non-members here in Provo. (There’s a surprising number in our ward boundaries) However they get hit over the head with so much clumsy and frankly insulting missionary work that I want to do a good job. A lot of non-members in high member areas are (with some justification) suspicious of overt member-missionary work. (i.e. those who bring food until they say they aren’t interested in missionary work; or those who miss the distinction of the “bold but not overbearing” scripture)

    I like to think that blogging is one way I try to do member missionary work. But I also recognize that’s a bit of a cop-out.

  2. Wonderful post Geoff. I have been mulling it around in my head since earlier today.

    Since I live in the south, I often see people praying over their meals in restaurants, offering to pray for/with strangers, laying their hands on a stranger to rebuke illness or bad spirit. I have had random strangers bless me in this fashion. There is indeed power in such faith and action. I admire their bold actions and faith in God.

    We need to be more like these people, after all we have the restored gospel and the strength of the Priesthood. Once I prayed with a stranger who was sitting next to me in a doctor’s office gently crying. Her daughter was a recent murder victim and she was now raising her granddaughter. She suddenly felt alone and overwhelmed with grief.

    Thanks for the reminder. I need to make the effort just as these people do in praying the morning whose life I can bless that day and then have the boldness to do it.

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  4. A great post, Geoff.

    My job responsibilities changed late last year and I have less face-to-face interaction with internal and external customers. When my non-member co-worker with whom I frequently discussed the gospel volunteered for the last lay-off, I was left with almost no one to talk to during the day.

    Sharing the gospel is not always an easy thing to do and I appreciate the examples you gave and possible ways to discuss it with co-workers. The story of giving your co-worker a blessing was a real spiritual shot in the arm for me. Thanks for that.

    Clark: When I was in the MTC, my district went to the temple for a session and I felt impressed that I should skip the session and read scriptures in the waiting room. While I was reading my scriptures, I engaged one of the men seated near me in conversation. It turned out that he was not a member and was waiting for someone to get out of a session. We had a delightful conversation about the church and I was able to get his permission to send the missionaries to his home. Who knew that a referral could be gained in Provo…in the temple, no less!

  5. As I got out of the taxi, I reached into my briefcase and gave him an English-language Book of Mormon. “There are a lot of good things in this book. It will tell you about our church,” I said. He thanked me and drove off.

    Woo woo!

  6. Brian, I’ve had far more good discussions about the Church here in Utah than elsewhere. With Utah’s relatively strong economy there are a lot of non-members here. As I said people who can engage in good member missionary work are needed because there are so many who either do nothing or who are so aggressive they turn people off.

    One thing we’ve tried to do is have yearly block parties in the summer so as to get to know the non-members on our street. Honestly they work fantastic and are a great way to socialize. One thing I fear is that we socialize so much within our wards that people feel left out or even ostracized (which is almost always false – but a lot of people read too much into our actions.

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