Mormon Missionary Work after 1978
In 1978, President Spencer W. Kimball received a revelation that extended the right to hold the priesthood to every male member of the Mormon Church. This has allowed more and more people to join and become leaders and the Mormon Church has witnessed explosive growth in South America, now over 4,000,000 and in Africa, now over 200,000 in 20 years. In the 1980s, President Ezra Taft Benson began a push to publish more copies of the Book of Mormon in more and more languages. Since Joseph Smith had translated the Book of Mormon in 1829 and 1830, it had been published in most European and Pacific Island languages as well as Japanese and Chinese. As of 2004, the Book of Mormon is available in almost 100 languages including Arabic, Navajo, Russian, Persian, Tagalog, Hmong, Swahili, Hindi, Cambodian, Korean, Bengali, Urdu, Albanian, Amharic, Mongolian and many other major and minor languages in order to reach every person.
In 1990s and early 2000s, President Gordon B. Hinckley, Prophet and Seer to the Mormon Church, stepped up efforts to make sure Mormon missionaries were spiritually prepared and worthy. He has also made helping these hundreds of thousands of converts one of his priorities. He has urged members to assist the massive influx of new converts by ensuring that every single one has a friend, a responsibility, and continuing nourishment with God’s word. During this time the number of Mormons outside the United States exceeded the number within for the first time since the 1840s. To extend every blessing that the Mormon Church can offer to every member, he has, through divine guidance, overseen the construction of dozens of temples. In 1990 there were 44 temples, mostly in areas of high Mormon population like Utah or California, but by 2005 there were 122 on ever inhabited continent in dozens of countries including Australia, the Philippines, Japan, Denmark, Brazil, Venezuela, Hong Kong, Ghana, and so on. Only 14 U.S. states do not have a Mormon temple.
While all these number may be impressive, explosive growth and dynamic work do not prove anything. Other churches are also growing fast and their membership may likewise be very devoted to their cause. The truthfulness and wonder of the message of Mormonism is not contingent upon its record growth or impressive trivia. The proof of Mormonism is in the lives and testimonies of its members who have the firm conviction from the Spirit of God that the work they are doing is led by Jesus Christ himself through His servants, the prophets. The message of Mormonism which these 55,000 Mormon missionaries share every day is that Jesus Christ lives, that He is the Savior of the World who has restored His power and authority to mankind on earth to lead His Church and prepare the way for His Second Coming. It is that all mankind must repent and believe in Him, be baptized in His name, and endure to end in faithfulness. To help us, God has sent His prophets and sent us the Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ, to be a second witness to the truths of the Bible to increase faith and to convince people of their sins that they might be saved through Jesus Christ. The Book of Mormon ends with this appeal:
"Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God. And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot (Moroni 10:32-33, pg 531)"