‘Tis the season for missionary farewells and homecomings! Returned missionaries are reminiscing about their own missions, future missionaries with their calls are trembling in anticipation, and those who haven’t served are wondering what missions are really like. One story of a young man who probably wondered the same thing is found in one of the classic Mormon missionary movies: “God’s Army.”
Brandon Allen, tagged as Elder Allen for the next two years, enters his mission with a few preconceived notions and a lot of pride. He quickly learns that missionary work isn’t all baptisms and tracting miracles. Los Angeles feels like anything but the city of angels, and Elder Allen’s 29-year-old companion, Elder Dalton, doesn’t take it easy on anyone, particularly his greenie.
The four other Elders that share an apartment with Elders Allen and Dalton don’t make life any easier. One is a fifth-generation member who takes the intellectual side of the Gospel a little too seriously, and one or two of the others don’t seem to take missionary work seriously enough. They certainly seem to love pulling pranks on each other and arguing over ridiculous things. Between his fellow missionaries and the other difficulties of the work, Elder Allen is ready to head home almost before his mission has begun.
Then Elder Allen learns a little more about the Elders he’s serving with. One of them is struggling with a crisis of faith. Another was disowned by his family for joining the Church. And Elder Dalton? He dropped out of medical school to come on a mission . . . and he’s been hiding something that completely changes Elder Allen’s perspective.
When Elder Allen humbles himself enough to learn from his companion and appreciate the sacrifices made by those around him, he realizes that it’s time to decide where his faith lies and what he is willing to do about it.
Whether you want to revisit your missionary days, teach your children about the trials and triumphs of missions, or remember what it means to be truly converted, “God’s Army” is the perfect film to learn from today.
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