Mission presidents and companions have the opportunity to guide missionaries in being forthright, diligent, hardworking, and faithful long after the missionaries’ assignments end, said Elder Ronald A. Rasband on Monday, June 24, during the 2019 Mission Leadership Seminar.
That is accomplished as mission presidents and companions show high love for their missionaries and as they have high expectations that the elders and sisters will teach repentance and baptize converts, said Elder Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
Addressing his topic “Caring for Your Missionaries,” Elder Rasband spoke alongside his wife, Sister Melanie Rasband. They began their remarks by sharing a quote from the Mission President Handbook: “After your responsibility to your family, your highest responsibility as a mission president [and companion] is to care for your missionaries. Ask the Lord each day to guide you to missionaries who may need your help.”
Speaking of their service in the New York New York North Mission, Elder Rasband said, “We had a very international mission with missionaries from all over the world coming to serve every nation, kindred, tongue, and people who live and visit New York City and the regions round about.”
The Rasbands took four of their five children with them into the mission field and set expectations that the missionaries would respect the mission home as their home—including calling before they came and knocking, said Sister Rasband.
“Whether you have children with you or not, with this practice missionaries learn consideration for the two of you and your time,” she said. “It strengthens their priorities in scheduling and using their time wisely—doing what missionaries are called to do.”
Love for the missionaries
Shortly after arriving in the mission field, the Rasbands were overwhelmed in feeling “deep God-given love” for their missionaries, Sister Rasband said.
“Silently, with instant tears, a real love rushed into our hearts, seeing them as the Lord must see them,” she recalled. “For a season they were ours.”
As they began their mission, they learned that 1 John 4:18—“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear”—applied not only to their missionaries but also to themselves.
Elder Rasband said it is important missionaries understand that their mission leaders know and love them. When greeting new missionaries, for example, Elder Rasband said he knew their name, where they were from and one other interesting detail about them.
“As you come to know them through all your interactions, make opportunities to ask about their families back home, which will give you greater insight as to how they are really doing and create more understanding and love in your relationship with them,” he said.
“Caring for missionaries in our experience means loving them and having high expectations for them to do the work of a missionary called of the Lord—to gather scattered Israel,” said Elder Rasband.
This important principle, he said, was taught by the Lord and recorded in Matthew 28:19-20: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.”
The “importance and expectation for the Savior’s apostles and disciples to teach and baptize is clear,” said Elder Rasband.
Sister Rasband added: “Jesus Christ’s powerful directive still applies to our latter-day missionaries. This should be your priority as well. Missionaries need to know you expect them to never lose sight of their primary mandate as missionaries called to the work: to make disciples by teaching repentance and baptizing the Lord’s elect.”
The Rasbands shared several scriptures that will inspire missionaries to achieve high expectations.
When high expectations and high love combine, it creates a mission of miracles, they said.
“Missionaries find, teach, and baptize,” said Elder Rasband. “They also need to find themselves and be truly converted to the Lord, not only teaching but also learning repentance. Your high expectations and Christlike love and mercy will help missionaries increase their faith, be truthful with themselves and God, and thereby create an environment to repent. Loyalty to the Lord, and to you as His agent, in all circumstances, must be a high-expected priority for your missionaries. This will increase every missionary’s obedience to the mission standards and to you.”
Elder Rasband said the best way to teach high expectations is to personally model it by example.
“Where possible, contact with them in all circumstances to find the elect. Let them see you are willing to do the work as well and take rejection graciously when it comes,” he said. “Personal involvement from each of you will be one of the great lessons you can teach them.“
“Whether we personally witness miracles with our missionaries or hear about their experiences through testimonies shared at zone conferences, in conversations or phone calls, in serving or teaching opportunities together, interviews or president’s letters, we can rejoice with them in seeing the Lord’s hand in our labors and seeing the elect come to the waters of baptism and begin their walk on the covenant path to the temple.”
The Rasbands concluded by quoting President Russell M. Nelson: “I am optimistic about the future. It will be filled with opportunities for each of us to progress, contribute, and take the gospel to every corner of the earth . . . Our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ, will perform some of His mightiest works between now and when He comes again. We will see miraculous indications that God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, preside over this Church in majesty and glory. But in coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost” (April 2018 general conference).
Elder Rasband added: “It is your future. It is your missionaries’ future. We have been promised that we and you and they will experience miracles in this work. Yes, you will love your missionaries almost immediately, and you will set high expectations for them, culminating in our new members enduring to the end and continuing on the covenant path.”
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