Saturday, October 15, 2005

The Ammon Model

As a missionary in Oklahoma, I heard vague mentions of missionaries in a few missions who were experimenting with the "Ammon Model" of missionary work. I heard they essentially did as much service as they could instead of the typical missionary activities. I didn't know much more about it. Seth Rogers, a commenter at BCC has written about his experience as an Ammon Model missionary in Japan. It was very interesting and a bit sad. In summing up the auspicious beginnings of the project, he writes, "English classes became a prime source of convert baptisms which, incidentally, tripled after a year of the Ammon Project."

He then writes the none-too-surprising transition,
"Unfortunately, our open-ended, easy going, flexible style of proselyting caught up with us. Many of the missionaries started justifying there behavior with the more open-minded mission mottos. The mission slogan 'means and ends' became a slogan for "doing whatever I want and labeling it as proselyting later."

He concludes,
"The focus of the missionaries crashed and burned almost mission-wide.

By the time I left Japan, door-to-door was back and much of the Ammon Project had been gutted and reintegrated into more traditional proselyting forms.

Sigh ...

I suppose, in the final analysis, we just weren't ready for it."

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Unto the latest generation

I'm making my way through Richard Bushman's new biography, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling. In writing the story leading up to the First Vision, Bushman tells us about the Prophets forebears.
"Grandfather Smith had been a Congregationalist, a leading townsman, a man of property. Asael broke those religious moorings as surely as he left the family's farm. He was drawn to Universalism, read Tom Paine, and repudiated evangelical religion. Joseph Sr. was even more adrift. In the first generation, Asael experimented; in the second, Joseph Sr. was lost." (p. 26)

I was reminded of a talk by Elder Holland. He said,
"Parents simply cannot flirt with skepticism or cynicism, then be surprised when their children expand that flirtation into full-blown romance. If in matters of faith and belief children are at risk of being swept downstream by this intellectual current or that cultural rapid, we as their parents must be more certain than ever to hold to anchored, unmistakable moorings clearly recognizable to those of our own household. It won'’t help anyone if we go over the edge with them, explaining through the roar of the falls all the way down that we really did know the Church was true and that the keys of the priesthood really were lodged there but we just didn'’t want to stifle anyone's freedom to think otherwise."

Of course, Joseph Sr. nor Asael before him really thought they had something solid to hold on to. So much more important, then, was the Restoration through Joseph Jr. Bushman writes, "If there was a motive for Joseph Smith Jr.'s revelations, it was to satisfy his family's religious want and, above all, to meet the need of his oft-defeated, unmoored father."

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Cast Not Away Therefore Your Confidence

I just commented on another blog and I really wanted to excerpt a bit more from a talk by Elder Holland that I love. It is titled, "Cast Not Away Therefore Your Confidence." Elder Holland had a wonderful insight in that talk which I've loved since I heard it. I'll have to abridge ruthlessly. And still look how much remains that I couldn't bear to chop.

Now, behold, this is the spirit of revelation; behold, this is the spirit by which Moses brought the children of Israel through the Red Sea on dry ground. [D&C 8:3]

Question: Why would the Lord use the example of crossing the Red Sea as the classic example of "the spirit of revelation"? ...

Usually we think of revelation as information. ...This is too narrow a concept of revelation....

First of all, revelation almost always comes in response to a question, usually an urgent question.... In this case it was literally a matter of life and death.

You will need information, too, but in matters of great consequence it is not likely to come unless you want it urgently, faithfully, humbly. Moroni calls it seeking "with real intent" (Moroni 10:4)....

...Remember how urgently you have needed help in earlier times and that you got it. The Red Sea will open to the honest seeker of revelation. The adversary ... cannot conquer if we will it otherwise. "Exerting all [our] powers to call upon God," the light will again come, the darkness will again retreat, the safety will again be sure. That is lesson number one about crossing the Red Sea, your Red Seas, by the spirit of revelation.

Lesson number two is closely related to it. It is that in the process of revelation and in making important decisions, fear almost always plays a destructive, sometimes paralyzing role. ...

That is exactly the problem that beset the children of Israel at the edge of the Red Sea. That is lesson number two. It has everything to do with holding fast to earlier illumination. The record says, "And when Pharaoh drew nigh, the children of Israel lifted up their eyes, and, behold, the Egyptians marched after them; and they were sore afraid."

...What [some] actually said to Moses was, "Wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to carry us forth out of Egypt? . . . It had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness" (Exodus 14:10–12).

And I have to say, "What about that which has already happened? What about the miracles that got you here? What about the frogs and the lice? What about the rod and the serpent, the river and the blood? What about the hail, the locusts, the fire, and the firstborn sons?"

How soon we forget. It would not have been better to stay and serve the Egyptians, and it is not better to remain outside the Church nor to reject a mission call nor to put off marriage and so on and so on forever. ...

"And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord. . . . The Lord shall fight for you."
That is the second lesson of the spirit of revelation. After you have gotten the message, after you have paid the price to feel his love and hear the word of the Lord, "go forward." Don't fear, don't vacillate, don't quibble, don't whine. ...

The third lesson from the Lord's spirit of revelation in the miracle of the crossing of the Red Sea is that...God will also provide the means and power to achieve that purpose. Trust in that eternal truth. ...

God's grace is sufficient!

The entire talk is absolutely delicious and I wholly recommend it.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 License.