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Thursday, May 2, 2013

Guest Post: Combating Internet Evils w/ Missionary Work Online

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Kenny Schank was born in Las Vegas and raised in Nevada, Arizona, and Utah. He is a recently returned missionary who is slowly but surely adapting to "real life." He spends his new-found free time working so he can save up for college and major in ... something. If his dreams are realized, he will find himself later working for the Church Educational System as a seminary or institute teacher. Eager to better qualify for such a position, he is already trying to dry out his sense of humor. He loves playing sports, some good alternative rock, and a thin slice of cheesecake. Or a fat one. Whichever he can get his fork into.

Elder Schneider and Rauni Jussila by Charles Roberts

I love websites that seek to carry on with the noble and praiseworthy task of building others' faith and inviting them to Christ. These days, people spend more and more time online. The internet is an incredible blessing.  Virtually all the information one could ever need is available at our fingertips and can be delivered to us in mere seconds. And that's not even mentioning how much easier it is to learn and share the gospel with the content made available by missionary-minded publishers.

Unfortunately, the devil has gotten really good at his game of perverting the good things God has inspired men to create. For example, music is one medium through which we can find motivation, peace, and even communication from the Holy Ghost. However, it's becoming harder and harder to find a radio station or a new album by your favorite band that doesn't include some sort of profanity or innuendo describing violence or immorality. Even lyric-less songs can drive the Spirit away if they direct our thoughts towards unrighteous action.

Like music and other forms of media, the internet is a powerful tool both in the hands of God and those of Satan. And Satan is tricky in how he uses it.

Have you ever ran a Google search for the word "Mormon?" Do it and you'll find a lot of very helpful links and uplifting sources: official church websites, educational and objective articles on Mormonism, etc. But you'll also find in the mix links to websites that teach misleading and negative falsehoods, "warning" people about the so-called dangers of Mormonism. While God inspires man to use the web to enlighten and bring others to the truth, Satan fights back hard by enticing others to use it to confuse and mislead those who are "kept from the truth because they know not where to find it" (D&C 123:12) and develop a hostility within them towards the restored gospel. This, my friends, is where we come in.

We have been invited by God through His prophets to take action in sharing the gospel using the gift of technology He has given us. President Uchtdorf said,
"With so many social media resources and a multitude of more or less useful gadgets at our disposal, sharing the good news of the gospel is easier and the effects more far-reaching than ever before. … Perhaps the Lord's encouragement to "open [your] mouths" might today include "use your hands" to blog and text message the gospel to all the world!" (Waiting on the Road to Damascus, General Conference Address, April 2011)
Elder L. Tom Perry similarly stated,
"We encourage people, young and old, to use the Internet and the social media to reach out and share their religious beliefs." (Perfect Love Casteth Out Fear, General Conference Address, October 2011)
We can all do a little bit to share the gospel. Posting uplifting scriptures/quotes on Facebook or talking about your Sunday activities on your blog are easy and creative ways to get the word out. There are all kinds of effective ways we can spread the "good news" around.

I really enjoy reading Modern Mormon Men and other blogs like it because of their ability to help me build my faith. I find it meaningful that people actually take time to provide me with something that can help me grow closer to God. I also really get a kick out of the humorous side of these blogs: proof that we can enjoy and be creative in our endeavors to do missionary work.

For instance, the blog you're reading right now—Modern Mormon Men—provides internet users with content we can read to learn more about the gospel, stay up-to-date with recent announcements and movements, and see others' testimonies and spiritual experiences. But that's not all; it's also a great place to get a good laugh or two, especially if you're familiar with "Mormon culture." (Examples of hilarious posts may include but are not limited to: Doppelgangers, Mormon Mashups, and Vote or Die posts.) There are many other websites that are useful (and creative) gospel-sharing tools., as an other example, is a website created by the Foundation for the Advancement of Religion Online, a non-profit organization seeking to strengthen the presence of positive and unbiased religious material online. The website provides a lot of great study helps, including information on more than 30 different types of religion and a growing database in a wiki format that allows users to submit articles concerning the beliefs of individual religions or denominations. The site also offers a handful of entertaining, useful, and interactive study tools for its Christian users, including free Bible quizzes, a Bible quiz creator, and a Bible study journal.

The foundation also allows for representatives of any religion to place forms on the website to provide users with a way to order literature about their beliefs; in fact, the website has produced over 60 referrals for the LDS missionaries, and counting.

I love seeing individuals and groups make the effort to help others understand the restored gospel. I recently returned from serving a full-time mission myself and in all my experience in life, I can't think of anything that brings more happiness than helping God teach His own children about His nature, His plan, and His Son. It's a great privilege that we have! And it's never been easier. So let's do it! What will you do to share the gospel online?

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