Missionaries Called to China

MYTH: Missionaries are Being Called to China


This rumor has been around for over a decade. I can still remember hearing this one spread while I was at the MTC: Like Lamoni in the Book of Mormon, the hearts of the brutal Chinese military regime had been softened and the gospel was finally going to be taught in that country.

I remember feeling bad for the missionaries who were being called to China, because it was suppose to be a three year mission (evidently the language was so hard to learn). But at the same time I felt a sense of awe and wonder – the gospel was spreading throughout the world like Daniel prophesied and we all know what that means: JESUS IS COMING!

In fact, it is precisely millennialist expectations that result in these kinds of myths. This myth is less about missionary work than about fulfilling prophecy. When we hear that missionaries are finally being called to China, the glaringly loud, but implicit, announcement is “Hold on tight, the Second Coming is almost here.”

Millenialist expectations are a foundation of the LDS culture, (hence “Latter-day Saints”) as well as many, many other Christian groups. It’s an explicit teaching found in the Bible:

"This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come" (Matthew 24:14).

This gospel shall be preached in all the world…then shall the end come…it doesn’t get any more explicit than that, except maybe in this verse:

"And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come…." (Revelation 14:6-7).

A non-LDS online Bible resource site, BibleUniverse.com, made the following comment:

“The great, solemn, last warning message of Christ's second coming is now being presented in more than 900 languages and dialects. More than 95% percent of the world's population has access to this message. Before Jesus' second coming, every person in the world will be warned of His soon return. People will be lost if they reject the warning message.”

Clearly millenialist thinking is not unique to us Latter-day Saints. But as much as we would like to do our part to usher in all the final destruction and mayhem, missionary work in China, at least LDS missionary work, is not yet part of it.

The LDS Church has specifically debunked this myth. A news article published December 2006, stated:

A rumor has been circulating that select members are being called on missions to China. The rumor claims that someone in a relative's ward, or in a friend's ward, received a letter extending a mission call but the field of service was left blank.
According to the rumor, the individual was instructed to call a phone number and then was "patched through to President Gordon B. Hinckley," who then asked if the prospective missionary would be willing to serve a three-year mission to mainland China, the first year consisting only of humanitarian service.
The Church News had been advised that this rumor has no foundation. No such mission calls have been extended

There you have it, the “rumor has no foundation.” But this may not be entirely true. Speaking at the Peoria Stake Conference on March 8, 2009, I personally heard Elder Russell M. Nelson declare that the LDS Church has buildings in Hong Kong and the People’s Republic of China, though he did not elaborate.

Additionally, my personal friend Bryan S. (I am not using his last name out of respect for his privacy) served a Chinese speaking mission – which, by the way, was not three years – and recalled missionaries performing humanitarian work on China’s mainland though they were not allowed to proselytize.

But though missionaries might be performing humanitarian service, a proselytizing mission is a very different thing. As of right now, the LDS Church has not called missionaries to China’s main land, and might not for a long time.

Looks like the Second Coming is gonna have to wait a little longer.

[1] BibleUniverse.com. “Gospel to the World.” http://bibleuniverse.com/articles/second-coming-prophecies-fulfilled/gospel-to-the-world.aspx. Retrieved September 15, 20009
[2] Church News: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “No foundation to China rumor” published Saturday, Dec. 23, 2006. http://www.ldschurchnews.com/articles/49938/No-foundation-to-China-rumor.html# Retrieved September 15, 2009.

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