The other night we had three soon-to-depart missionaries in our apartment. They were Elder Lunga Xolisa Mkutswana, Elder Llungisi Felix Thomo and Elder Lungelo Nyoni. We were discussing their future plans upon returning home; schooling, work, career, marriage, family, and remaining true to the Faith. It was one of those rare and very candid discussions about their concerns regarding the future.
As we shared our thoughts, it occurred to me that there are two general ways that returning missionaries fall away from the Church.
- The first is that life is too easy, as is often the case with Muzungus (whites) who return to the states or other first world homes. They can go to school or get a job and get married and, if they are not watchful, easily become relaxed about Gospel living.
- The second is that life is too hard, where missionaries from third-world nations go home to extreme poverty, unemployment, a depressed economy, unhealthy traditions and other hardships. Then life demands can drag them away from the Gospel they love.
Our discussion, therefore, centered on keeping alive the flame of testimony that was ignited in their bones as missionaries. They may find that balancing life challenges like education, employment, courtship and the filth of being back in the world clouds their eternal perspective.
We showed these Elders our Declaration of Faith which RaNae and I try our best to live. We developed this years ago and have modified it many times. We suggested that they carefully prepare their own declaration and take a stand. We agreed to record them making their declaration just before leaving for home (see below). Then they would give follow-up reports in one and five years. If they did this, they would be far less likely to drift into disobedience or discouragement as life gets hard. They were all in.
Here are the tools:
These tools can help returning missionaries face their challenges with faith and determination while maintaining a clarity of vision.
Three Steps to Success
- There is an amazing power when a declaration is written.
- That power increases when it is spoken aloud to others.
- And having a sense of future accountability welds their resolve.
As these amazing Elders left our apartment that night, we were deeply touched with their wonderful faith. We pray that all returning missionaries will not allow the too easy or too hard challenges to pull them from being True to the Faith.
We invite your experience and input if you care to share.
On 16 April, 2015, these two Elders returned home from their mission. Before they left, they read their personal declaration of faith. Here they are.
Elder Lungelo Nyoni returned home on August 20, 2015.