“How Priesthood Quorums Sponsor Overseas Missionaries,” Ensign, Dec. 1975, 59–60
“Over the years the seventies of the Church have contributed a great portion of the funds which have supported missionaries outside the United States and Canada. We commend the seventies of the Church for their great contributions that have been given to finance the missions. However, may we suggest now there is a greater need than ever before for the elders, the high priests, and yes, additional contributions from the seventies of the Church, in order to finance this great missionary movement the Lord requires of us.” (President Spencer W. Kimball, at Regional Representatives seminar, April 3, 1975.)
Though priesthood quorums have long supported local youth on missions, these quorums are now encouraged to extend their support to missionaries outside the United States and Canada as well. Missionaries worldwide are aided by contributions to the General Missionary Fund of the Church.
According to Raymond Johanson, supervisor of Mission Accounting Services, quorum contributions may be sent to the General Missionary Fund either in a lump sum or in a series of small donations on a regular basis. If small donations are sent, the initial one should be accompanied by a letter indicating more will be coming to provide continued support for a sponsored missionary. In this way, the Missionary Department can assign a sponsored missionary to one donor with whom he can readily identify and correspond.
Much labor and sacrifice have been required as quorums have responded to the prophet’s call.
Early Saturday morning a group of ten men pull up to a warehouse in Midvale, Utah. Piling out of two cars, they share a good-natured laugh about one fellow’s early morning grumbles and find their way to a railroad freight car. Soon the sun rises higher; sweat begins to appear; and the small talk is hushed as they carry big bags of insulation material to waiting trucks.
These men vary in occupation from carpenter to accountant, but on this particular morning they have something in common: they are all members of the Midvale Fort Union Sixth Quorum of Elders, giving a morning’s work to help finance a native missionary in Spain.
Like that Spanish missionary, youth all over the world are serving their own people on missions with the help of priesthood quorum contributions. As the emphasis on this work continues, many elders and high priests quorums are expanding their missionary roles to help the seventies shoulder their growing responsibility. Sponsored missionaries may be assigned to any quorum that contributes enough funds to assist the missionary throughout the term of his mission.
A typical example is the high priests quorum in the Mesa Arizona Maricopa Stake, which has suggested that each member make a yearly contribution to help support an elder in Scotland. Quorum president J. LaMar Shelley explained that his quorum members feel closer to their sponsored missionary when they can see letters like the one that read: “I have been a member of this church for 1 1/2 years. Since I was baptized I have wanted to help other people obtain the joy I have felt as a member. … Now I have this great opportunity.” Such letters, when read in quorum meetings, really generate interest and lead to contributions, President Shelley believes.
A stake variety show, sponsored by the seventies quorum in Salt Lake Jordan North Stake, is helping another missionary preach the gospel in Scotland. In one of his recent letters he wrote, “I am greatly indebted to all of you for the sacrifice you are making on my behalf. I cannot put into words how delighted I am at your help, so freely given.”
The seventies quorum of Las Vegas Nevada Central Stake received this letter from Central America: “I want you to know that I’m very grateful for the great opportunity that you have given me. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have been able to be a missionary. I remember praying for five years and saying each night, ‘Father, help me so that I can fulfill a mission.’ That’s how I got a testimony that God will give us what we ask if it is just.”
A Japanese sister serving in her native country wrote: “For the remaining time I will work very hard so that you too may receive the blessings. … I send my love and the love of the Japanese.”
According to Donald Layton, senior president of the quorum, these letters inspire members to contribute to the General Missionary Fund because “they have an association with real people instead of a nameless person from another country.”
As donations to the fund are assigned to a particular quorum, the Missionary Department informs the sponsored missionary, through his mission president, that the funds will be sent to help support him. The missionary is also encouraged to write the donor quorum to keep it abreast of his progress in the field. Missionaries receiving donor funds are counseled to sacrifice, with their families, as much as possible to provide their own finances.
Explaining the significance of the missionary calling, the Missionary Handbook reads, “Through dedicated service, your mission experience will bring you closer to the Lord than ever before and will establish a spiritual foundation that will serve you throughout your life.”
Future leaders of the Church in their own countries may receive their foundation from a mission made possible by quorum donations. Perhaps the real value of missionary support was best expressed in a letter from a Japanese sister whose limited knowledge of English distilled her message to the most simple truth: “How are you? I am fine. I finished mission November 4. Thankful for your big helping. My faith became strong. It’s very good. Hereafter I will do mission to my family and many people. Thanks lots.”