Lessons on Freedom and Patriotism
Lesson No. Twenty-Seven
Missionaries and "the Shot Heard Round the World"
The “shot heard round the world” - Our Revolutionary War began on April 19, 1775 when Minute Men engaged British regulars at the Old North Bridge in Concord, Massachusetts. Near the bridge is a monument on which is inscribed the words of the Concord Hymn by Ralph Waldo Emerson. I memorized the first stanza in 1967 when I joined the Utah Air National Guard:
Missionaries are Minute Men - Originally, Minute Men were primarily farmers and included the old and middle aged, but mainly they were young men motivated with the desire for freedom. The concept of the Minute Man has evolved over time to include both men and women, young and old, military and non-military. The 400,000 men and women of the National Guard are known as Minute Men. A Minute Man can include anyone who is willing to set aside personal interests in the defense of freedom. This can be done in many ways including missionary service. Missionaries fit the definition of Minute Men.
“Helaman and his brethren (missionaries) were no less serviceable unto the people than was Moroni (soldiers); for they did preach the word of God, and they did baptize unto repentance all men whosoever would hearken unto their words. And thus they went forth, and the people did humble themselves because of their words, insomuch that they were highly favored of the Lord, and thus they were free from wars and contentions…” (Alma 48:19-20).
"The Spirit of God…is also the spirit of freedom" (Alma 61:15, see also 2 Corinthians 3:17). The Spirit of God is the Holy Ghost. All missionaries seek people who will accept the gospel, be baptized, and receive the Holy Ghost. People who have the Spirit of God and receive the Holy Ghost will promote and defend the cause of freedom.
The two thousand stripling soldiers were engaged in intense physical warfare to protect the freedom of their people. The intense combat in missionary work is between good and evil. This is the battle that really matters. Good missionaries can be described like the stripling soldiers: “…they were exceedingly valiant for courage, and also for strength and activity; but behold, this was not all – they were men who were true at all time in whatsoever thing they were entrusted. Yea, they were men of truth and soberness, for they had been taught to keep the commandments of God and to walk uprightly before him” (Alma 53:20-22).
Testimony – The Minute Man Monument depicts a young man with musket in hand as he leaves his plow in defense of freedom. The minuteman’s “shot heard around the world” was prolog to the restoration of the gospel. Now missionaries using the Book of Mormon, rather than a musket, “fire the shot heard round the world.”
It has been my privilege to have given both military and missionary service. I have concluded that the gospel, more than the force of arms, will bring freedom in all of its dimensions to the world. We can be part of “the shot [being] heard round the world” by living and sharing the gospel. This is the greatest contribution we can make to the cause of freedom.