“How can I help support missionaries in other areas of the world?” Ensign, Apr. 1991, 55
Udell E. Poulsen, manager of finance and personnel for the Church Missionary Department and manager of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Any member of the Church can help support missionaries throughout the world by contributing to the Church’s General Missionary Fund. The method is simple: contributions can be made through your ward at the same time other donations are made. In the “Missionary” category on the new donation slip is a box labeled “General fund.” Donations in the “General fund” category will be transferred to the General Missionary Fund.
I have maintained for years that the very best investment we make in developing countries of the world is the financial assistance provided to missionaries. This not only assists in promulgating the gospel of Jesus Christ, but builds a solid leadership foundation for the Church. Missionaries return home from their missions and become the leaders within their wards and stakes. I have met many bishops, stake presidents, and other leaders from various countries who served as missionaries as a result of receiving money from the General Missionary Fund. They stand as living witnesses of the value derived from assisting these missionaries.
Currently, financial assistance is being provided through the General Missionary Fund to more than eleven thousand missionaries. Annually, the number of eligible young people increases. As the number increases, the financial demands increase. All members of the Church are encouraged to consider making regular contributions to the General Missionary Fund to assist these wonderful young people to serve missions.
It is important to know there are several principles that are followed in providing financial assistance for missionaries. Missionary work has been performed with great sacrifice since the restoration of the gospel, and sacrifice remains a guiding principle in missionary work today. Therefore, no person is called to serve a mission who receives 100 percent of his or her finances from the General Missionary Fund. The individual and his immediate and extended family have the prime responsibility to provide the financing, with the ward and the priesthood quorums also providing assistance if needed. No specific amount is required before a missionary can receive assistance through the General Missionary Fund. The request is that as much be provided from local sources as is possible.
At the time an individual is recommended for a mission, local priesthood leaders are asked to carefully review the financial position of the family and the ward or branch to determine the amount of funds that can be provided on a regular monthly basis. If those funds are insufficient to meet the prospective missionary’s needs, a request is made for assistance. The mission president is then authorized to provide the needed assistance from the General Missionary Fund.
Now you might think: “But I want to be able to contact the missionary whom I am supporting and share in his or her missionary experiences.”
This used to be the procedure followed by the Church. It gave donors an opportunity to share in the missionary experiences. However, there were also some negative aspects. If missionaries wanted something extra, they would make a request to their donors, and most often they would receive extra money, even though the extras were not essential for missionary work. Sometimes local missionaries would write requesting their hosts to sponsor them in going to the United States following their missions, either to go to school or to immigrate. For these and other reasons, linking donors with specific missionaries has been discontinued.
The Church wants young people in all countries of the world to serve missions if they so desire. It recognizes how mission experiences bless lives. As these missionaries associate with other missionaries, they are exposed to the importance of receiving an education and other values that can be beneficial. But the Church is committed to provide them only with what is required to serve an honorable and faithful mission. Anything beyond that should be reserved to make it possible for another young person to serve.
In all countries, members of the Church are being encouraged to plan for missions and to prepare financially so they can pay for their own missionaries. It will, of course, take time for this to happen in developing nations; but as the Church continues to teach correct principles, members in all areas of the world will develop a high degree of self-sufficiency.