Beginning June 1, 2021, young adults ages 18-29 will be able to serve as service missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This new program allows those who cannot serve a teaching mission for physical, health or other reasons, to still serve as missionaries.
Teaching missionaries who return home earlier than planned due to an accident, disease or other health conditions and wish to continue their service, also can be reassigned to a service mission. To serve in these missions, men must be 18-26 years old and women 19-29 years of age.
'The primary mission of teaching missionaries is gathering scattered Israel by finding, teaching and baptizing converts,' said Elder Lorenzo Castillo, recently called to serve by the Caribbean Area Presidency as the leader of service missions along with his wife, Sister Jenny Castillo, for the Santiago and Santo Domingo West coordinating councils of in the Dominican Republic.
'The purpose of service missionaries is helping others to come unto Christ by serving as the Savior would. They serve in approved charitable organizations, such as food banks, refugee services and in Church operations such as warehouses, canneries, or temples, as well as in local congregations as assigned by their service missionary and church leaders,' Elder Castillo stated.
Referring to the importance of this opportunity to serve in the Church for those unable to carry out a teaching mission, Elder Castillo said that “this represents a great blessing as it opens the doors for them to serve a mission tailored to their circumstances. Now more than ever, the scripture that says: “Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work,” (Doctrine and Covenants 4: 3) is being realized”.
Service missionaries will serve according to their circumstances for a minimum of six months to a maximum of 18 months for women and 24 months for men. The process for all that desire to serve as missionaries begins with an online recommendation, which includes evaluations from their local Church leaders, and medical professionals. The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and the Seventy oversee the missionary recommendation process.
“Young men and women who are not called as teaching missionaries are called as service missionaries. The work the missionary carries on adapts to the talents, abilities and unique gifts that they possess', said Sister Jenny Castillo.
Amid a global pandemic, the Church continues offering Latter-day Saints opportunities to serve in various ways and adapting the way to do it to the potential of those willing to contribute.
“Service, in the Lord's way, will always be a blessing for those who receive it as well as for those who offer it, especially in situations as extraordinary as the one humanity is experiencing due to the pandemic. We know that serving under such circumstances requires great faith and courage. The work of these wonderful service missionaries will be a great blessing for all of God's children,” Elder Castillo stated.
About Elder and Sister Castillo
Elder and Sister Castillo are very happy to receive this important assignment to lead service missionaries in the Caribbean Area. They led the Dominican Republic Santiago Mission from June 2015 to June 2018.
They said that during the time they presided over this mission, they had the privilege of working with hundreds of worthy young men and women who served 'with great desire and commitment to their Heavenly Father and their neighbors and gave their best to build the kingdom of God '.
They also witnessed other young people who were also eager to serve God, but because of some health challenges were unable to go on a mission or had to finish their mission early due to circumstances that prevented them from continuing in the rigors of a teaching mission.' We were always saddened to see those worthy missionaries who wanted to serve, having to leave the mission for reasons beyond their control', said Sister Castillo.
With these experiences, the couple expresses having 'a great desire to make this joyful news known to these young people who now have this option to serve.' They also want to invite young people to 'embark on this wonderful work, because we know that this will help these young people to increase their faith in Christ and come to know how valuable they are to our Heavenly Father'.
As a final request, both Elder and Sister Castillo invited Church leadership to challenge these “precious young people to serve the Lord”. They encouraged these leaders to 'see them as the Lord sees them', and to help these young women and young men develop their potential by offering them opportunities to serve as the Lord expects them to. “A service mission will change the lives of missionaries now and in the eternities'.