Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Mormon Church--The Field is White--Ideal Conditions--George's Post

1.    Mormon Church--The Field is White—Ideal Conditions

The religiosity of the people, together with their humility, friendliness, and openness, makes Malawi an almost ideal place for proselyting activities.  This is true not only for the missionary efforts of the Mormon Church, but also for similar activities sponsored by evangelical churches.  One of the most frequently quoted passages from the Doctrine and Covenants is Section 4—commonly used by full-time missionaries to remind themselves of their sacred calling to share the restored gospel with the peoples of the world.  It reads in part: “Now behold, a marvelous work is about to come forth among the children of me….  For behold, the field is white already to harvest; and lo, he that thrusteth in his sickle with his might, the same layeth up in store that he perisheth not, but bringeth salvation to his soul.”  D&C 4: 1, 4.  It is not hard for missionaries serving in Malawi to think these verses were written with Malawi in mind. 
The receptivity of Malawians to the gospel message is extraordinary, certainly when compared with the lack of interest found in many parts of the world, such as the countries in Western Europe including Germany, where I served as a young missionary in the late 1960s.  Frequently, when Carole and I are walking in the townships, strangers will stop us, asking what Church we belong to and where we worship.  They carefully scrutinize our missionary tags—sometimes sounding out the words—“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”  They ask us about what we are doing and how long we plan to stay in Malawi.  Usually they know where the Blantyre chapel is located--downtown, close to the market, behind the “Inde” Bank--but rarely do they know where the Ndirande and Zingwangwa Branches meet.  Were we called to proselyte like the younger missionaries, Carole and I think we won’t have any difficulty spending most of the day, every day, visiting with nonmembers about the Church.  Their innate curiosity about us, and the lack of fixed schedules driving their days, leaves them ready to spend a few minutes chatting about the Church.  Sometimes this is little more than a passing interest, but on occasion it amounts to a genuine interest in learning more about the Church and its message.  The younger missionaries have much the same experience. 
As a consequence, the Church is growing rapidly in Blantyre and Lilongwe, the two locations where the Church has established districts in Malawi, and where the Church has assigned full-time missionaries.  At the senior missionary conference held in March of 2015, President Erickson announced that the Africa Southeast Area was the fastest growing area in the entire Mormon Church and that Malawi/Zambia were, at the time, the fastest growing countries within the area.   We expect the Church to continue growing quickly in Malawi in the foreseeable future, and can easily envision dramatic changes in the landscape of the Church within the next decade—the building of new meetinghouses; the existing districts being replaced by “stakes;” the Church’s opening new cities within Malawi to missionary work; the possibility of the Church’s creating a separate Malawi mission, with a larger missionary force; and, the number of young Malawian men and women called to serve as missionaries, both in Africa and elsewhere, growing dramatically, greatly enhancing the pool of potential leaders.