Does God bring immigrants to U.S. to hear gospel?
12/15/2005. I realized a while ago that I've been giving out copies of the Book of Mormon and Gospel Principles Simplified (Gospel Fundamentals) to people from countries where there are few to no LDS missionaries or members. Ethiopia and Senegal are two that readily come to mind.
So far as I know, no one has joined the church through my book placement efforts. But I believe I have planted seeds, some of which will bear fruit. Several of the people who have received books from me have gone back to their homelands to visit, or returned home from visiting the United States. I assume that at least some have taken the books which I gave them back with them. One man from Kenya even told me so directly.
The many seemingly miraculous coincidences, of being at the right place at the right time, plus a percentage of the encounters being arranged by promptings of the Spirit, lead me to believe that the Lord is not just taking advantage of random occurrances. The Lord sees the end from the beginning, as Brigham Young said, so he saw this before those people even arrived in the United States.
I understand that every major city has many recent immigrants. I would encourage anyone reading this to consider including immigrants in their member-missionary efforts. Get a list of languages that the church has material in (from www.ldscatalog.com, and look under Missionary Book of Mormon, and Language Material Listings). Keep that list of languages handy, or in your car. Don't be afraid to approach people who appear to be immigrants.
Find out what languages are spoken in your town. Stock your mission office and your ward libraries with those books. Keep some of the more popular languages of the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith Testimony pamphlets in your car.
Member Missionaries are Cheaper than Full-time MissionariesIt's very expensive to open and maintain a foreign mission and support missionaries in the field. And we don't have enough available 19 year-olds church-wide to meet the staffing needs of the missions. We just don't have enough warm bodies yet to preach the gospel world-wide. But the Lord is helping us out. If not enough members can go out to the world, the Lord is bringing the world to the members here in the US.
I'll put it in terms of dollars for the bean-counters among us. It costs $1,000 per month to keep a missionary companionship, 2 elders, in the field. Their out-of-pocket expenses may be less in some areas, but if you include the overhead of the mission office, airfare to/from the mission field, medical care and whatever else is not directly borne by the missionaries, the total cost is at least that. Those two missionaries will give out 10 to 20 Books of Mormon per month. They do other things of course, but those books then cost $50 to $100 each to give out.
But if people here in the states can give them out in our normal comings and goings, the cost is very little. I do it while I buy gas, or a newspaper. It takes anywhere from 30 seconds to two minutes. Even if I deliberately go eat at an ethnic restaurant, for the main purpose of placing a book, the cost is still only $7 to $15, and then I usually give out two to four books at restaurants, reducing the per book cost even further.
I haven't been keeping exact totals recently, but I estimate that I've given out material to slightly over 500 people in the 19 months that I've done this. The cost per person (of those who actually receive material) is much less than that of a full-time missionary. Excuse me for being a bean-counter on that, but I'm trying to point out that member-missionaries are cheaper than full-time missionaries.
Like Elder Bednar said in the October 2005 General Conference, members are to be missionaries at all times and in all places.