Let’s face it, not every missionary will end up in Brazil and have the blessing of baptizing 50 beautiful families into the church. Not every member missionary will be able to baptize all his co-workers – and that’s okay. For those who don’t, have faith and trust in the Lord that your efforts will be accepted by Him and turned into something more marvelous than you can imagine.
Here are 3 missionaries who never saw the fruits of their labors in the way they intended, but boy, did they ever make a difference!
1. Samuel the Lamanite
You remember Samuel. He was a Lamanite sent to enemy territory among the Nephites in the land of Zarahemla. After attempting to teach the people for many days, they kicked him out! He was walking back home, most certainly in a depressed state and God told him to go back. So he turned around, couldn’t get admittance into the city, climbed the wall, and from there preached to the people a powerful message of Christ – all the while dodging rocks and arrows. Those who were angry with him became so irate that they eventually started climbing up the wall after Samuel, so he fled and was never heard from again.
What Samuel didn’t know was that many believed on his words after hearing him speak and went to find Nephi and were baptized. Still others, after witnessing the miracle that Samuel couldn’t be hit by the rocks and arrows, also sought after Nephi to be baptized.
Who was the more successful missionary? Samuel the Lamanite, high on the city wall, or Nephi who had people flocking in droves to be baptized? Who thought he was the more successful missionary?
Everyone who knows of Abinadi loves him, but he received no such love while he was on his mission. M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke of the influence that this despised prophet actually had: “Abinadi infuriated wicked King Noah with his courageous testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ. Eventually this great missionary offered the ultimate sacrifice for his witness and faith but not before his pure testimony touched one believing heart. Alma, one of King Noah’s priests, ‘repented of his sins … , [accepted Jesus as the Christ,] and went about privately among the people, and began to teach the words of Abinadi’ (Mosiah 18:1). Many were converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ as a direct result of Abinadi’s powerfully borne testimony of the Savior, believed by one soul, Alma.”
Abinadi was bound by the wicked priests of the king and burned at the stake, and there is no certainty that he ever knew Alma believed in his words. If he was aware of Alma’s conversion, all he got to see of it was Alma being chased out of the king’s court by the priests to be killed. Talk about a missionary who has reason to consider himself a failure – the one convert you have gets killed! Luckily that didn’t happen and we know the rest of the story – Alma established the church among the people and baptized a group of four hundred and fifty souls.
All thanks to the unshakable testimony of Abinadi.
Have you had struggles thinking that your missionary efforts weren’t or still aren’t enough?
If you had the chance to serve a mission, it was the best two years, and it was the hardest two years. For many who have served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, failure is something you get used to. Having eyes rolled at you, doors slammed in your face, and objects thrown at you is commonplace. But perhaps most difficult of all is the feeling that you have failed as a missionary.
How about your current missionary efforts? Do you feel that you are having little or not impact on anybody? If you’re like me, perhaps you’ve never had the experience of a friend or a co-worker come into the church because of your efforts – but that doesn’t mean you’re a failure.
For every crop the world did need, there was a farmer to plant the seed.
Has anyone reading the Book of Mormon ever considered Samuel the Lamanite or Abinadi a failure? Chances are they too felt depressed and unsure that they were accomplishing all the Lord had intended. If we find ourselves in a similar state of mind, let us remember how the Lord magnified the seed planting efforts of Samuel the Lamanite and Abinadi, and turned those efforts into a marvelous harvest of souls.
God did it for them. He can do the same for us – after all, this is HIS work.