At some point I must have ended up on an outreach list or a “prospect” list for the Mormon missionaries in our area. It seems that every year, or two years (depending on if the missionaries or male or female) I get a call from the new batch of Mormon (LDS) missionaries taking over in our area. It was only during this most recent call that I realized there are a lot of things Catholics could learn from the Mormon missionaries.
This is the fourth pain or Mormon missionaries (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints if we are to be politically correct) that I have spoken with in our area. The missionaries change over every year (if they are female) and every two years if they are male. As you can see, I have been dealing with them for several years. However, I enjoy talking to them. It is not for the reason they would like me to enjoy the conversations. I do, on the other hand, appreciate the time and discussions we have together.
Perhaps is it because I have been polite and kind to them, as opposed to the door slammed in their face, that they have continued to try and “proselytize” me and convert me. I have experienced an eye-opening truth from our LDS friends. It is not what they say of course. It is not in their theology or their “basic” understanding of their faith. It is in their actions. Their faith, however shallow or wrong it is, fuels actions. It drives them to share it with others in the hopes of bringing other people into their faith. I enjoy getting to converse with new Mormon missionaries. It gives me an opportunity to learn about others, pray for their conversion to the Church, and to share the faith with them. It gives me a chance to share Christ with someone and I love telling about what the Lord has done for me.
Here are some key things I have learned from the Mormons that it would do well for every Catholic to learn:
1.) Be relentless
2.) Tell your story (or find your story)
3.) Know your faith
Be relentless: There is some truth and dignity in moderation. However, we are not called to a moderate and private faith. We are called to live a radical faith. The apostles lived a life that was on fire for Christ and the Gospel. As a result, they changed the world. “Then Jesus approached and said to them, ‘all power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20) Relentless does not mean rude.
Jesus gives us a command to go and share the Gospel. He instructs us to tell others about Him. One may look at this passage in Sacred Scripture and say that Jesus was speaking to the apostles and he was not talking about the average laity. You are wrong. The Lord expects each one of us to tell of His goodness, his grace, his forgiveness, his mercy, his sacrifice, and especially about his love. Being relentless in your faith does not mean pushing it on others (as our LDS friends seem to do). It is simply being in love with the Lord enough to want to share that love with others. Do you remember the time you got engaged? (if you’re married) You told all your friends and family about that moment! You told anyone who would listen perhaps about your soon-to-be-spouse. Why do we treat God as if He is a relationship we need to stick in the closet somewhere and only bring out at night or on Sunday morning?
Tell Your Story: Everyone has a story to tell and yours is no less important than others. If you are in love with Christ and have experienced a conversion of your heart, then you have a story to tell. If you have been raised in the faith and know that Jesus died on the cross for you and He has forgiven you of your sins, then you have a story. Protestants call this their “testimony”.
St. Paul shows us how to give a “testimony”. In essence, he simply shows us how to share what Christ has done for us with others. There are 3 different times in the New Testament where Paul shares his conversion story. One of those times is in Galatians 1:11-24. He reminds them of who he was before he met Christ. He tells them how he persecuted Christians and tried to destroy the faith. He then tells of how Christ came into his life and changed him. If you have ever been changed by the love of Jesus, the forgiveness and grace of Christ, then you have a story to tell others. If you do not have a story, perhaps you should pray and begin seeking Christ and ask Him to give you that story.
Know your faith: One thing I learned in my discussions with our Mormon missionary friends is once you get outside the specific script or talking points they have been trained to know then they really do not know a lot about their own faith. They all have “stories” to tell about their faith and why they are Mormon. When their faith and their theology is challenged, in a polite and friendly conversation, they do not have answers.
We must know our own faith. It is a command in Sacred Scripture that we are to be ready to explain our faith to others when they ask us. “but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope.” (I Peter 3:15) We must be ready to tell others why we are Catholic and have a conversion story. We need to have our own “love story” with the Lord Jesus to share with others. However, when we tell others about Christ it must be from a place of love, respect, and love.
The next time the Mormon missionaries come knocking on your door, go ahead and let them in and share your story. Introduce them to Jesus.