Alma, Chapter 17

What makes a successful missionary?

When I have seen a missionary come home, I have been so excited and my family has always been so happy.  We make welcome home signs and just can’t wait to hear them talk with a “funny” accent and tell interesting stories.  I think the greatest joy comes in seeing how much they have grown up in the gospel, how much faith they have, and how much they know of the scriptures.  For me that is pretty awesome.

“And now it came to pass that as Alma was journeying from the land of Gideon southward, away to the land of Manti, behold, to his astonishment, he met with the sons of Mosiah journeying towards the land of Zarahemla (v. 1).  Now these sons of Mosiah were with Alma at the time the angel first appeared unto him; therefore Alma did rejoice exceedingly to see his brethren; and what added more to his joy, they were still his brethren in the Lord; yea, and they had waxed strong in the knowledge of the truth; for they were men of a sound understanding and they had searched the scriptures diligently, that they might know the word of God (v. 2).  But this is not all; they had given themselves to much prayer, and fasting; therefore they had the spirit of prophecy, and the spirit of revelation, and when they taught, they taught with power and authority of God (v. 3).  And they had been teaching the word of God for the space of fourteen years among the Lamanites, having had much success in bringing many to the knowledge of the truth; yea, by the power of their words many were brought before the altar of God, to call on his name and confess their sins before him (v. 4).”

The sons of Mosiah had been on a mission for 14 years.  Alma was astonished to see them and had great joy.  They had done a lot to prepare for serving the many people.  First, they were converted entirely when they saw the angel along with Alma the younger.  Then, they studied the scriptures, fasted, and prayed to know what they should teach the people.  They were on the Lord’s errand for all those years and saw a lot of souls accept the gospel.  I think if we aren’t studying the scriptures, praying, and fasting, we should be.  And if we are, we should take time to make sure that we are doing these things with the purpose to know the word of God and with faith that the Lord will guide us. This can make us into stronger missionaries as well.

What can we expect as we serve our missions?

Missions are not easy and many missionaries experience hard trials while they are serving the Lord.  Satan has hold on many hearts out there.  I have not served a full-time mission so I cannot share any personal experience from that, but I know growing up that my family tried time and again to introduce people to the gospel.  At one point, our neighbor (a boy my sister’s age) had shown an interest in the gospel.  He had the missionary discussions and was attending church and we were all very excited when he said that he would be baptized.  Then just before his baptism, his mother had a dream that scared her, if I remember correctly, and so she refused to allow him to be baptized.  It was a trying time for us as member missionaries, because after that point it seemed his heart was no longer in it, but we know that the spirit had touched him.  I don’t recall if he ever decided to be baptized once he was 18 years old or not.

The sons of Mosiah had a much more difficult time.  “Now these are the circumstances which attended them in their journeyings, for they had many afflictions; they did suffer much, both in body and in mind, such as hunger, thirst and fatigue, and also much labor in the spirit (v. 5). . . And assuredly it was great, for they had undertaken to preach the word of God to a wild and a hardened and a ferocious people; a people who delighted in murdering the Nephites, and robbing and plundering them; and their hearts were set upon riches, or upon gold and silver, and precious stones; yet they sought to obtain these things by murdering and plundering, that they might not labor for them with their own hands (v. 14).  Thus they were a very indolent people, many of whom did worship idols, and the curse of God had fallen upon them because of the traditions of their fathers; notwithstanding the promises of the Lord were extended unto them on the conditions of repentance (v. 15).”

The sons of Mosiah left Zarahemla and had to find their own food and places to rest (v. 7).  They prayed for the spirit and the Lord answered their prayers (v. 9-10).  They went out separately to preach the gospel (v. 13).  Today young men (and women) from the church, similar in age to the sons of Mosiah, can serve missions for 2 years (18 months for women).  The missionaries today are usually fed and sheltered by the assistance of church members, so that they can focus on the work of the Lord.  They do study and pray for the guidance of the spirit and if they are serving righteously, they have it just as the sons of Mosiah did.  They are not expected to go out alone to preach, but they go in pairs so that the testimony of two witnesses can be heard by the people they preach to.  The people are sometimes ready and willing and at other times, they are sinful just as the Lamanites were then.  Satan is working hard to make it difficult for people to hear the word of God today.  The missionaries that go out today have to be ready and worthy to preach because the time is so hard now.  They must already have a testimony of Christ and His gospel, before they enter the field.

How does the story of Ammon remind you of the life of Christ?

In Moses 6:63 we read, “And behold, all things have their likeness, and all things are created and made to bear record of me, both things which are temporal, and things which are spiritual; things which are in the heavens above, and things which are on the earth, and things which are in the earth, and things which are under the earth, both above and beneath: all things bear record of me.”  This is true of the story of Ammon in the scriptures.

“And Ammon went to the land of Ishmael, the land being called after the sons of Ishmael, who also became Lamanites (v. 19).  And as Ammon entered the land of Ishmael, the Lamanites took him and bound him, as was their custom to bind all the Nephites who fell into their hands, and carry them before the king; and thus it was left to the pleasure of the king to slay them, or to retain them in captivity, or to cast them into prison, or to cast them out of his land, according to his will and pleasure (v. 20).”  So Ammon, a son of the king, went to preach the gospel to his brothers, the Lamanites, who had fallen away from God.  In Matthew 3:16-17 we read, “And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him (v. 16):  And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased (v. 17).”  Then in 15:24 we read, “But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”  Jesus Christ, the Son of the King, God, was sent to the lost sheep, just as Ammon had been sent to another group of the lost sheep.

“And thus Ammon was carried before the king who was over the land of Ishmael; and his name was Lamoni; and he was a descendant of Ishmael (v. 21).  And the king inquired of Ammon if it were his desire to dwell in the land among the Lamanites, or among his people (v. 22).  And Ammon said unto him: Yea, I desire to dwell among this people for a time; yea, and perhaps until the day I die (v. 23).  And it came to pass that king Lamoni was much pleased with Ammon, and caused that his bands should be loosed; and he would that Ammon should take one of his daughters to wife (v. 24).  But Ammon said unto him: Nay, but I will be thy servant. Therefore Ammon became a servant to king Lamoni (v. 25). . . ”  Ammon was given the chance to be a prince amoung the Lamanites, but he chose to be a servant instead.  In John 6:14-15 we read, “Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world (v. 14).  When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone (v. 15).”  And later in 13:12-16 we read, “So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you (v. 12)?  Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am (v. 13).  If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet (v. 14).  For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you (v. 15).  Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him (v. 16).”  The Savior, who was rightfully a king, chose to serve those who would call him their master.

“. . . And it came to pass that he was set among other servants to watch the flocks of Lamoni, according to the custom of the Lamanites (v. 25).”  In John 10:11 we read, “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.”  The Savior was the shepherd of all mankind, just as Ammon became a shepherd to the sheep of King Lamoni.

“And after he had been in the service of the king three days, as he was with the Lamanitish servants going forth with their flocks to the place of water, which was called the water of Sebus, and all the Lamanites drive their flocks hither, that they may have water (v. 26)—”  Ammon served for three days as the shepherd and then tried to bring the sheep to the water.  In John 7:37-38 we read, “In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink (v. 37).  He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water (v. 38).”  The Savior has served us and brings those of us who believe Him to the fountain of living water to drink.

“And those men again stood to scatter their flocks; but Ammon said unto his brethren: Encircle the flocks round about that they flee not; and I go and contend with these men who do scatter our flocks (v. 33).  Therefore, they did as Ammon commanded them, and he went forth and stood to contend with those who stood by the waters of Sebus; and they were in number not a few (v. 34).  Therefore they did not fear Ammon, for they supposed that one of their men could slay him according to their pleasure, for they knew not that the Lord had promised Mosiah that he would deliver his sons out of their hands; neither did they know anything concerning the Lord; therefore they delighted in the destruction of their brethren; and for this cause they stood to scatter the flocks of the king (v. 35).  But Ammon stood forth and began to cast stones at them with his sling; yea, with mighty power he did sling stones amongst them; and thus he slew a certain number of them insomuch that they began to be astonished at his power; nevertheless they were angry because of the slain of their brethren, and they were determined that he should fall; therefore, seeing that they ccould not hit him with their stones, they came forth with clubs to slay him (v. 36).”  The lamanites who tried to kill Ammon, were amazed at the power he had.  In Matthew 13:54 we read, “And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works?”  Those who heard the Savior were also amazed at him.

It is not surprising that there are so many things in common between Ammon and the Savior.  Ammon was a righteous man, who used the testimony of the Savior as a guide in his life.  He lived by following the spirit.  Since everything bears record of the Savior, than we should be able to see examples of Him in all of our lives.  We should look to these examples more often and with them we will be able to live more righteously and be like Him.

The way we serve influences how others feel about the gospel

Elder Henry B. Eyring said, “Thousands of times every day, members of the Church are watched . . . by people curious to know something about our lives.  Because we are under covenant to be witnesses, we will try to tell them how the gospel has brought us happiness. What they think of what we say may depend largely on how much they sense we care for them.  Those we meet will feel the love. . . . It may not be in hours or days as it was for King Lamoni, they will feel our love after testing our hearts.  And when they find our concern sincere, the Holy Spirit can more easily touch them to allow us to teach and to testify, as it did for Ammon.”  The story of Ammon and King Lamoni is a great one and so I feel it is appropriate to quote the whole thing as I comment.

We read, “Therefore, as Ammon and the servants of the king were driving forth their flocks to this place of water, behold, a certain number of the Lamanites, who had been with their flocks to water, stood and scattered the flocks of Ammon and the servants of the king, and they scattered them insomuch that they fled many ways (v. 27).  Now the servants of the king began to murmur, saying: Now the king will slay us, as he has our brethren because their flocks were scattered by the wickedness of these men. And they began to weep exceedingly, saying: Behold, our flocks are scattered already (v. 28 ).  Now they wept because of the fear of being slain. Now when Ammon saw this his heart was swollen within him with joy; for, said he, I will show forth my power unto these my fellow-servants, or the power which is in me, in restoring these flocks unto the king, that I may win the hearts of these my fellow-servants, that I may lead them to believe in my words (v. 29).  And now, these were the thoughts of Ammon, when he saw the afflictions of those whom he termed to be his brethren (v. 30).  And it came to pass that he flattered them by his words, saying: My brethren, be of good cheer and let us go in search of the flocks, and we will gather them together and bring them back unto the place of water; and thus we will preserve the flocks unto the king and he will not slay us (v. 31).  And it came to pass that they went in search of the flocks, and they did follow Ammon, and they rushed forth with much swiftness and did head the flocks of the king, and did gather them together again to the place of water (v. 32).”

Ammon told the shepherds to encircle the sheep, while he went to fight these lamanites.  He showed them his power with a sling and a stone.  Those left standing were angry and went to kill him (v. 33-36).

“But behold, every man that lifted his club to smite Ammon, he smote off their arms with his sword; for he did withstand their blows by smiting their arms with the edge of his sword, insomuch that they began to be astonished, and began to flee before him; yea, and they were not few in number; and he caused them to flee by the strength of his arm (v. 37).  Now six of them had fallen by the sling, but he slew none save it were their leader with his sword; and he smote off as many of their arms as were lifted against him, and they were not a few (v. 38 ).  And when he had driven them afar off, he returned and they watered their flocks and returned them to the pasture of the king, and then went in unto the king, bearing the arms which had been smitten off by the sword of Ammon, of those who sought to slay him; and they were carried in unto the king for a testimony of the things which they had done (v. 39).”

Ammon showed a love for his brothers by serving them.  He put the value of his own life aside to stand up to the lamanites who were scattering the sheep.  He showed the shepherds and King Lamoni, his power, the power of God, while serving them completely.  When we put others feelings above our own and help them, instead of thinking only of ourselves, they feel it in their hearts.  If we can serve as Ammon did, we will be able to show this to others who do not have the gospel, or are struggling with it, in their lives.

And now it came to pass that as Alma was journeying from the land of Gideon southward, away to the land of aManti, behold, to his astonishment, he bmet with the csons of Mosiah journeying towards the land of Zarahemla.
2 Now these sons of Mosiah were with Alma at the time the angel afirst appeared unto him; therefore Alma did rejoice exceedingly to see his brethren; and what added more to his joy, they were still his brethren in the Lord; yea, and they had waxed strong in the knowledge of the truth; for they were men of a sound understanding and they had bsearched the scriptures diligently, that they might know the word of God.
3 But this is not all; they had given themselves to much prayer, and afasting; therefore they had the spirit of prophecy, and the spirit of revelation, and when they taught, they taught with bpower and authority of God.
4 And they had been teaching the word of God *for the space of fourteen years among the Lamanites, having had much asuccess in bringing many to the bknowledge of the truth; yea, by the power of their words many were brought before the altar of God, to call on his name and cconfess their sins before him.
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About My Scripture Study Buddy

I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I love the scriptures, but I am not a scriptorian. I've been told that I'm too "deep" for some, but if you are willing, I'd love to have others join me in my quest for a greater understanding of the gospel. Please feel free to leave me comments and hopefully we can help each other to learn.

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