The Church Receives 7,000 Missionary Applications In One Week…Maybe…
Today was a typical Sunday in my small branch in Alabama. The talks in sacrament meeting were terrific and my Sunday School class passed by without anybody throwing rotten tomatoes at me. – Yes, I consider that a real measure of success. – During the brief intermission before priesthood started I took a glance at my phone. I responded to a text message and hopped on Twitter just because I love seeing what my fellow Latter-day Saints of the #Twitterstake (the unofficial group of Mormons on Twitter) were saying about their sabbath services.
And there I saw it.
Not just once.
But three times right in a row.
I almost couldn’t believe it, and I’m sure my mouth hung open as I stood beside my church’s water fountain so fascinated with what I was seeing that getting a drink had passed by my mind.
I started doing the math in my head…and it just didn’t seem possible. But there it was repeatedly on my Twitter Feed:
“The Church received 7,000 new missionary applications last week.”
“Silly internet rumors,” I said to myself as I finally stopped doing unrealistically large mathematical equations in my head and got a drink of water. I walked into the gym and sat down waiting for the third hour of our block of meetings to begin. “That’s just an unreal number,” I continued thinking. Deciding that it was probably just gossip I kept my mouth shut. Since I had just taught a Sunday School lesson on honesty, and we had spent a significant amount of time on the subject of gossip, I felt I should at least try to not spread gossip just mere moments after having taught about it. As our class began and the day went on the thoughts of 7,000 missionary applications being submitted in just one week quickly passed from my mind. Church ended and other meetings took place. I went with our missionaries to the hospital and to make a visit. After that I met with our branch presidency (a meeting in which I was once again invited to get married – the joys of being a YSA) and finally ended up getting home at 4:30. By the time I ate lunch/dinner I fell asleep in my recliner and didn’t wake up until later this evening.
When I finally looked at my phone and checked my Twitter Feed after waking up, there it was again, only this time by way of a popular Retweet.
At this point I felt like there might a little more substance to this “rumor” that was spreading so quickly via social media. After all, Dale Cressman did look like a rather handsome and honest LDS fella, and he even had a hint of perfect Romneyesque Hair. How could I not trust a Tweet from this guy? So I read some of the replies he’d gotten to his Tweet and an insightful response he provided as to his “source” for this “news”.
I then did a quick Google search of my new buddy Dale Cressman and found that he’s actually a rather legitimate source for news. After all, how can I not trust a handsome LDS fella with perfect Mormon hair who is a Professor at the Y?! Now granted, I found out from his official BYU Directory Bio that he is a Canadian, and he earned his Ph.D. at the University of Utah in 2003 (nobody is perfect), but he’s also a former television news producer and newspaper reporter who now teaches media and journalism. So this guy checks out as legit.
“But,” I thought to myself as my Google Stalking Abilities were paying off, “this is just one guy and one stake president who was saying this earlier today. It could still be gossip.”
Then I looked at the time of Dale’s Tweet, and realized the Tweets I’d seen earlier this morning came before his, and from different friends across the State of Utah. A few minutes of Twitter searching and I quickly saw that multiple priesthood leaders had shared the exact same “news” of ridiculously large number of new missionary applications that had been submitted this past week.
However, it all became Facebook Official (like a real live relationship) once I signed into my Facebook account. There at the top of my timeline was the meme I shared at the beginning of this post.
“This will help me get to the bottom of this,” I thought to myself as I quickly clicked on the meme and its link. However, I soon found many others with the same reluctant thoughts as mine.
I enjoyed reading through many of the comments on the LDS Meme’s Facebook Page in relation to this “news”.
Now could this all be one giant LDS social media rumor? Of course it could be. If one animal quacks in the dark, you can safely guess that it could be a duck. But if dozens of animals begin quacking in the dark, and then hundreds of them, it’s probably safe to say that you’re dealing with a bunch of ducks. If it turns out not to be true, then I suppose we all need a good call to repentance. Those who have helped spread this rumor will be found to just be a bunch of quacks. But if the news shared on Twitter, Facebook, and from various pulpits in Utah today proves to be true, then we are seeing the Lord’s work and purposes coming to pass in truly awesome and powerful ways.
Personally, I hope that this “news” is true, and not just a faith promoting rumor. However, I’ll be the first to say that in our day and age it’s never been easier to see a rumor spread so rapidly.
In the press conference that followed the announcement on the change in missionary ages, Elder Jeffery R. Holland said that the Lord is “hastening His work”. Whether the Church truly received 7,000 missionary applications this week or just 50 it does not matter. This is the Lord’s Church. It is His work. He is the Lord of the vineyard, and He will prepare and call His laborers as He sees fit.
Ever since President Monson’s announcement regarding missionary work was made, this quote from the Prophet Joseph Smith has came to my mind repeatedly. He said in the the now famous Wentworth Letter,
“Our missionaries are going forth to different nations . . . the Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done.”
– History of the Church 4:540
Only time will tell what sort of increase we will see in the number of full-time missionaries serving. The only important thing is that we, as the Lord’s covenant people, live our lives in such a manner so as to be able to assist the Lord’s full-time servants in finding those prepared to hear His gospel. There are countless millions who are waiting to hear the message we have, but we have to invite them to hear it first. It’s important to remember that success as a member missionary isn’t always measured in seeing someone come all the way the waters of baptism. Success is inviting someone to meet with the missionaries and merely extending the invitation to come unto Jesus and His ordinances. If we simply invite others the Lord and His missionaries will do the rest for us.
Meanwhile, I’m still working on the math with the 7,000 applications and what kind of an increase that is. I’m from Alabama; so this could take a while. Once I run out of fingers and toes it becomes much harder for me to add this stuff up…
What do you think though? Could this news be true? Or do you think it’s just a rumor? I’d love to hear your thoughts and stories.
Update 22 October 10PM: The Real Number of Missionary Applications
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