Missionaries Sent among the Nations

Building the Kingdom of God

Painting by Robert Theodore Barrett


In June 1837 the Lord through the Prophet Joseph Smith called Heber C. Kimball,1 an Apostle, to go to England and “proclaim my Gospel, and open the door of salvation to that nation.”2 Nine months later, the missionaries had baptized approximately 1,500 converts. Elder Kimball wrote the prophet, “Glory to God, Joseph, the Lord is with us among the nations!”3

In 1838 other members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles were called to expand that missionary effort. The Lord prepared many hearts to receive the gospel in the British Isles, and these Saints provided great strength to the Church as they immigrated to the United States over the next 30 years.

Joseph prophesied that missionary work would spread “the truth of God” abroad “till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done.”4 Today more than 50,000 missionaries, called by revelation,5 serve in more than 160 countries.


Joseph Smith Quotes

“No unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done” (History of the Church, 4:540).

“The reflection that everyone is to receive according to his own diligence and perseverance while in the vineyard, ought to inspire everyone who is called to be a minister of these glad tidings, to so improve his talent . . . that when the Master sits down to take an account of the conduct of His servants, it may be said, Well done, good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things; I will now make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord” (History of the Church, 2:6).

“We don’t ask any people to throw away any good they have got; we only ask them to come and get more. What if all the world should embrace this gospel? They would then see eye to eye, and the blessings of God would be poured out upon the people, which is the desire of my whole soul” (History of the Church, 5:259).


Thomas S. Monson, 16th President of the Church, 2008–2018

“One bright morning Joseph walked up to John E. Page and said, ‘Brother John, the Lord is calling you on a mission to Canada.’

“John E. Page was rather astonished and said, ‘Why, Brother Joseph, I can’t go on a mission to Canada. I don’t even have a coat to wear.’

“The Prophet Joseph took his own coat from his back, handed it to John Page, and said, ‘Here, John, wear this, and the Lord will bless you.’ Brother Page took the coat, went to Canada, and in two years walked five thousand miles and baptized six hundred souls, because he trusted in the words of a prophet of God” (“The Prophet Joseph Smith: Teacher by Example,” Ensign, June 1994, 5).

Brigham Young, Second President of the Church, 1847–1877

“When you are called to . . . preach the gospel . . . , take a course to save every person.—There is no man or woman within the pales of saving grace, but what is worth saving.—There is no intelligent being, . . . but what is worth, I may say, all the life of an Elder to save in the kingdom of God” (Deseret News, Mar. 6, 1861, 1).

Joseph Fielding Smith, 10th President of the Church, 1970–1972

“The day shall come when ‘every man shall hear the fulness of the Gospel in his own tongue, and in his own language through those who are ordained to this power, by the administration of the Comforter, shed forth upon them for the revelation of Jesus Christ’ [see Doctrine and Covenants 90:11]. It is the plan from the foundation of the earth that every soul shall have the opportunity of hearing the Gospel” (Church History and Modern Revelation, 2 vols. (1953), 1:390).


How did Heber C. Kimball respond to the call that came from the Prophet Joseph Smith?

“I daily went into the attic story of the Temple,” wrote Heber C. Kimball, “and poured out my soul unto the Lord, asking his protection and power to fulfil honorably the mission appointed me.” Heber found the reassurance he sought. “Hyrum, . . . when he would talk about my mission, wept like a little child,” Heber recalled. “He was continually blessing and encouraging me, and pouring out his soul in prophecies upon my head. He said to me, ‘Go, and you shall prosper as not many have prospered’” (Millennial Star, Sept. 10, 1864, 585; Sept. 17, 1864, 598).

What success did the first missionaries have in England?

The efforts of the Twelve and their associates were remarkably successful. By 1841 more than 6,000 people from the British Isles had joined the Church. By 1879 more than 38,000 British converts had immigrated to America, giving much needed strength to the Church.

How are missionaries called today?

As with Heber C. Kimball, the Lord continues to call His missionaries through His appointed servants. “Who sends them?” asked Lorenzo Snow regarding missionaries. “The God of Israel sends them. It is His work. There is no mortal man that is so much interested in the success of an Elder when he is preaching the Gospel as the Lord that sent him to preach to the people who are the Lord’s children” (Millennial Star, July 16, 1894, 451).


Online Resources at ChurchofJesusChrist.org

Missionary Work Goes Forward”—in “Building the Kingdom in Kirtland, Ohio,” Our Heritage: A Brief History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (1996), 29–33

The Infant Church Expands”—Church History in the Fulness of Times Student Manual (Church Educational System manual, 2003), 79–88

The Church Will Fill the World”—in “Joseph Smith: First President of the Church,” Presidents of the Church Student Manual (Church Educational System manual, 2004), 17

Online Resources at BYU

Letters of a Missionary Apostle to His Wife: Brigham Young to Mary Ann Angell Young, 1839–1841”—Ronald O. Barney, BYU Studies, vol. 38, no. 2 (1999), 156–201

Eight letters during the Twelve’s mission to England, describing the journey, the conditions in England, some of Brigham’s dreams about his family, plans for emigration, and the status of the Church in London.

The Mission of the Twelve to England, 1840–41: Mormon Apostles and the Working Classes”—James B. Allen and Malcolm R. Thorp, BYU Studies, vol. 15, no. 4 (1975), 499–526

Recounts missionary experiences of the Twelve while introducing the gospel in England.

Oh! Brother Joseph”—David H. Pratt, BYU Studies, vol. 27, no. 1 (1987), 127–31

Letter of Parley P. Pratt to the Prophet describing conditions in England.