Service missionaries are a vast army for good, Elder Don R. Clarke of the Seventy told service missionaries in the Tabernacle on Temple Square on October 30.
Church service missionaries are Church volunteers who give their time through work-related service missions. These missionaries serve at least 8 hours a week for six to 24 months. Although service missionaries are often involved in other assignments outside of their ward boundaries, they are still encouraged to serve in ward or stake callings at the discretion of their local leaders, as long as their additional duties do not interfere with Church-service missionary assignments.
"As you look into the eyes of these people that you help I hope you'll never forget what we are about — helping people change their lives," Elder Clarke said. "I would like to talk a little bit about what should happen to us as we serve. If we will understand what this great work means — it really isn't about bishops and bishops storehouses, its really not about inner city, it's really not about much of those things which we my think — it's really about … [it's about] all that you do to elevate and touch God's children.
"So tonight as we talk I pray that you will not think about your assignment, but that you will think about God's children, and understanding that everyone you touch, you have a chance to lift and make a little bit better."
Elder Clarke spoke of three specific things missionaries can do — rely on the Spirit, search the scriptures and be obedient — to serve more effectively in the Lord's kingdom. A powerful resource that is available for everyone is the missionary manual Preach My Gospel, Elder Clarke said.
"It does not answer every question or situation you will encounter, but it is the fundamentals of missionary work," he said. "You will be most effective when you follow the Spirit, search the scriptures — not read, but search the scriptures — and when you keep the commandments. Then, apply what you learn."
First, he spoke of the role of the Holy Ghost in missionary work.
"We become most effective in all we do as we work by the Spirit," he said. "We need the Spirit of revelation as we face a world of difficulty. Many of you work in those difficult places."
Just as Moses, through the spirit of revelation, was able to part the Red Sea so the children of Israel were able to walk on dry ground, missionaries today need the Holy Ghost in order to perform miracles in the lives of those they serve.
"We face a world of difficulties," he said. "You work, many of you, in those difficulties. We will need the Holy Ghost to divide the Red Sea for us. It would be my hope and prayer that the Holy Ghost will become your companion in whatever your service is."
Elder Clarke shared an experience of his grandfather when he was struggling financially. As a blind farmer, times were tough and he needed to pay taxes on his farm. He did all he could by working and trying to collect money people owed him, but he was unable to come up with the money needed. After he had come to the conclusion that he would be forced to give up the family farm, a letter came from a little crippled man in his area. The letter said that the man had felt that Elder Clarke's grandfather needed some money, and he had $200 that he could have. It was through the impression of the Holy Ghost that one man was able to help another save his farm.
"A little crippled man helped a blind farmer," Elder Clarke said. "We may not be crippled, but we have been called to help, help others to come unto Christ. ... It would be my hope and prayer that the Holy Ghost will become your companion in whatever your service is."
Second, missionaries search the scriptures for answers to problems.
"You must understand the great book — the Book of Mormon — and reading it is part of missionary armor. There should not be a day that goes by that you don't read it."
Elder Clarke spoke of the need for missionary couples to have companionship study, or if members are serving alone to have the Lord as their study companion.
"We need to be like Nephi, we need to be like Ammon, and we need to solve problems like Moroni," he said. "As we search the Book of Mormon we are able to find answers and carry out our task of going about doing good."
It is through reading the scriptures that individuals are able to read of the Savior and have a greater understanding of the Atonement, as well as a blueprint for living.
"The Savior atoned for our sins and went about doing good," he said. "So it is our task to go about doing good."
Third, Elder Clarke said that obedience is essential to doing missionary work.
Sharing a story about his son while he was on a mission, Elder Clarke told of the importance of being obedient even when it might not be the popular or easy thing to do. He told of how his son was playing basketball with other missionaries on preparation day when they started to play full court. Rules say missionaries are to only play half court, so his son decided to sit out of the game and watch. Something as small as playing basketball helped his son learn an important lesson in obedience, for it was as his son sat there alone, he felt the arms of the Savior wrapped around him.
"If you want to feel the arms of the Savior wrapped around you, be obedient," he said. "You will feel His arms around you."
Elder Clarke shared the great work service missionaries are doing in many capacities throughout the world.
"We have people struggling everywhere that need to know somebody, somewhere, cares," Elder Clarke said. "Missionaries care. ... We are about taking God's children and bringing them back to the fold. ... The Lord expects diligence and diligence will produce good results. ... You have heard the call, you listened and you accepted. ... The vast army of what we have holds the keys for helping so many."