Local missionaries supported in service by international fund

Increasing numbers of missionaries from international areas are serving full-time missions, effectively sharing the gospel in their homelands.

About a fourth of the Church's approximately 49,000 missionaries are in this group. And as the number of local missionaries in international areas grows, additional needs for their support also grows. A majority of these missionaries from outside the United States are supported by the Church's General Missionary Fund.The General Missionary Fund was established to support worthy missionaries who otherwise would not be able to serve a mission.

"Church members who are able to do so should be encouraged to contribute generously to the General Missionary Fund," according to instructions given to priesthood leaders.

In an April 1985 general conference address, given shortly before he became president of the Church, President Ezra Taft Benson said:

"Our mission as a Church is to preach the gospel to all the world. That means, in due time, every country, nationality and people. . . .

"Let me explain to you the challenge we face in the Church. Many of our worthy young men who desire to serve missions are in other countries of the world. Most of these elders and sisters do not have the resources to support themselves for two years on a mission and therefore must receive supplementary assistance," continued President Benson.

"We have a General Missionary Fund in the Church to which we ask all members to contribute. Those who have received bounteously from the Lord can afford to give generously to support this program. Most adult members could contribute some each month and, by doing so, help prosper the missionary efforts throughout the world."

In that address, President Benson also noted that, "We have been greatly blessed with the material means, the technology, and an inspired message to bring the gospel to all men. More is expected of us than any previous generation.

"Where much is given, much is required."

Contributions to the General Missionary Fund may be made on the standard donation slips.

Areas where the most local missionaries are serving are Latin America, the Philippines, and the South Pacific. Lesser numbers are serving in Europe, Asia and Africa.

The country with the largest number of local missionaries is Brazil, which also has 19 missions, more than any country outside the United States.

Local missionaries are also increasing in the Caribbean, particularly in the Dominican Republic. Pres. James A. Norberg of the Dominican Republic Santiago Mission said the number of local missionaries serving in his mission has increased from 30 to 48 percent in the past two years. In a country with a very low median income, nearly all the local missionaries are supported by the General Missionary Fund. "Without the fund, we'd have maybe a tenth of the missionaries we have now," Pres. Norberg said.

(See photos, testimonies of Brazilian missionaries and converts on pages 8-9.)

"Without the fund, a ward would get together and put on a drive to raise funds, at the considerable sacrifice of the members, and maybe be able to support one missionary."

He said the Dominicans are excellent missionaries who quickly gain depth as leaders while serving. Presently, his assistants and half the zone leaders are Dominicans.

"A number of our Dominican missionaries are serving as branch presidents. They get experience of running a little branch, being branch clerk, developing home and visiting teaching, training instructors, and doing missionary work at the same time. They develop in missions a lot of strength that they take home to their wards and branches.

"The best leaders for districts and branches we can find are returned missionaries."

He described one young Dominican elder who arrived on his mission very homesick. He decided to go home. "I talked with him for two hours," said Pres. Norberg. "Then he and I knelt on the hard floor of his room and talked to the Lord.

"I couldn't convince him to stay, but the Lord convinced him. Today, he is a district leader. He's had health problems for which we are trying to find the cause. He told me, `Whatever happens, I don't want to go home early. If I have to put up with this pain, I will do it, but

I don't want to go home early.' "

Pres. Norberg explained that before his call as mission president, he worked for the Church and was associated with the General Missionary Fund.

"I was excited about the fund when I was there because of the potential," he said. "But being here puts it in a whole different perspective. Not to have the General Missionary Fund would be a tragedy - we'd have young men and women from all over the world who could never, ever go on a mission."

Pres. J. Weston Daw of the Philippines Missionary Training Center said his center is operating at capacity, having increased by 20 percent over the past three years and by 5 to 7 percent this year. Missionaries mostly come to this center from the Philippines, with a few from the Caroline Islands, Singapore, Guam and Taiwan.

Generally, he said, about one-tenth of the new missionaries are converts of less than two years. Up to one-third of the new missionaries are the only members in their families. About one-fourth are from LDS families.

Their decisions to serve on a full-time basis represent a sacrifice, he explained. Many of them were main providers for their

Continued on page 5

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