Saturday, November 16, 2019

Updated Country Profile - Macau

Click here to access the updated Reaching the Nations country profile for Macau. The Church has maintained a presence in Macau for over 40 years, but there remain less than 1,500 members organized into three branches today. Less than 20% of Church members appear to regularly attend Sunday meetings. Secularism, materialism, the gambling industry, and nominalism in traditional faiths are barriers for growth. See below for the Future Prospects section of the updated article:

The growth outlook over the foreseeable future appears mediocre due to the small community of active Latter-day Saints, low responsiveness of the population to the Church’s teachings, and the increasing influence of gambling and secularism on Macanese society. The operation of language-specific branches for English, Cantonese, and Mandarin speakers is meaningful and offers mission outreach support and infrastructure if the population one day becomes more receptive to Latter-day Saint teachings. Macau appears unlikely to become a stake for many years or decades until there are at least five, ward-sized congregations and 500 active members, whereas at present the Church appears only half-way in accomplishing this goal despite over forty years of outreach.


Eduardo said...

No Portuguese speakers? Do any Brazilians make their way there?

John Pack Lambert said...

Las Vegas, arguably the world-wide center of the gambling industry, also has over 20 stakes, so gambling is not an insurmountable issue.

I was reading through the new missionary handbook. It has been over 17 years since I returned from my mission and I have not kept up on more recent changes. I am still looking to find in depth analysis of the changes.

Pictures, becoming and a 1st presidency quorum of the 12 message are key. Other points come to mind.

The new manual says there are no exchanges with members. It says the missionaries can go with one member age 16 or over, but with consideration to local laws. It also says a married couple can go with missionaries of either sex. Both on my mission and since I have gone on exchanges with 1 missionary, so this is a huge change. I meant on my mission I went on exchanges alone with one member. I think in one case it was with a 15-year-old.

The handbook does say you can leave tour area due to various emergencies and get permission afterward. I do not remember such a rule. The if you are along more than 3 hours in a transfer call mission leadership also sounds new to me.

Bryan Dorman said...

You might find this to be of great interest, as well as James:

Elder Ballard to missionaries in Colombia: No more pressure invitations to baptize; President Ballard taught the missionaries.

The missionaries must recognize the Spirit and teach by the Spirit more than in any other moment in our history, said President M Russell Ballard during the Seminary for new Mission Presidents in 2019 that occured on 24 June 2019.

If we are going to create a new missionary culture based on invitations guided by the Spirit that permit that others have spiritual experiences, our missionaries will feel the power of God when they see the changes that occur inside the hearts and minds of all those that they find and teach", said President Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

Speaking in front of 164 new mission presidents and their wives, in a meeting in the MTC in Provo, Utah, President Ballard said that the invitations of the Gospel, especially the invitations to be baptized, must be directed by the Spirit.

Some missionaries have felt pressured to invite people to be baptized during the first lesson or even with the first contact. "These missionaries have felt that inviting people to be baptized in the first appointment showed faith by the missionaries and helped the though that inviting people to be baptized as soon as possible was what was expected of them." he said. "Other missionaries have felt that an invitation to be baptized so quickly let them rapidly separate the wheat from the tares. In this case, some saw the baptismal invitation as a large strainer."

The Church leaders do not know when this activity commenced, but "it was NEVER our intention to invite people to be baptized before they learned something about the gospel, felt the Holy Spirit, and they were properly prepared to accept a commitment for life to follow Jesus Christ," President Ballard said. "Our rentention rates will improve dramatically when the people desire to be baptized due to the spiritual experiences that they are having, in place of feeling pressured to be baptized by our missionaries."

Citing President Gordon B. Hinckley, President Ballard said, "We cannot have baptized converts entering through the front door only to leave through the back door. There is no sense in doing missionary work unless we hold on to the fruits of said effort."
Other problems that this practice has created include:

First, some Latter Day Saints doubt about sharing names of family members and friends with the missionaries because the members worry that the missionaries extend a baptismal invitation before the person that is being presented to them is ready to be baptized.

Second, the missionries sometimes feel like sellers that have to meet goals for baptisms; as a result, missionaries use high pressure tactics to pressure people to enter into the baptismal font. This culture can, in the worst case, wound the faith of the missionaries that can return home feeling guilty for their actions in this setting.

Third, some people have stopped meeting with the missionaries because a premature baptismal invitation was given too rapidly in their spiritual journey. They feel that the missionaries are more interested in the baptism than what they are really experimenting spiritually.

To be continued...

Bryan Dorman said...

President Ballard said that the Book of Mormon teaches clearly that the commandments or invitations must be given in context.

The missionaries must be taught that they must determine by the Holy Spirit when a baptismal invitation is appropriate, and invited the mission leaders to read examples in the New Testament of how Jesus and his disciples offered invitations guided by the Spirit. "The missionaries must be careful of not pushing people onto the road," President Ballard explained. "In place of that, they should invite them to the next step on the road.
Missionaries too must understand that not all invitations that are guided by the Spirit will be accepted and that an invitation guided by the Spirit will be more effective when it is followed up by an offer to help them: "For example, if the missionaries invite someone to read the Book of Mormon, it is possible that they will want to offer help by reading with them." The invitations directed by the Spirit, followed by offerings of help, are even more effective when they follow the equally inspired questions," continued President Ballard. "The inspired questions help the missionaries understand the experiences that those that they are teaching are going through and learning through their study of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

When he cited "Preach My Gospel", President Ballard emphasized: When the individuals feel the Spirit, or when they see the evidence of love and mercy of the Lord in their lives, they are edified and strengthened spiritually and their faith in Him will be increased. These experiences with the Spirit naturally follow when a person is willing to experiment with the word. This is how we all feel and know that the Gospel is true. In other words, converting into a disciple of Jesus Christ is about experimenting the power of the Atonement of Christ in our lives.

When the missionaries try to teach the people through a routine of "putting popcorn in the box", they lose the power of an inspired invitation that could touch the soul, President Ballard taught, "So we can see the great harvest that the Lord has promised, the missionaries must get farther away from the focus of "putting popcorn in the box" when they find people, teach people, and extend invitations. Everyone should follow the example of Jesus Christ and his apostles and servants offering invitations directed by the Holy SPirit as well as significant offerings of help and inspired questions."

To conclude, President Ballard taught that the mission culture should "focus on spiritual experiences that lead to true conversion. This will be achieved better through invitations directed by the Spirit, offerings for help, and inspired questions.

"If we help to create a missionary culture based on invitations guided by the Spirit, that permit others to have spiritual experiences, our missionaries will feel the power of God when they see the changes that happen inside the hearts and minds of all those they find and teach. And the members will be sure that the missionaries are motivated by love when the missionaries invite their friends and neighbors to listen to the message of the Restoration taught by faithful missionries guided by the Spirit: "If the missionaries and members extend simple, truthful invitations guided by the Spirit successfully, they will see a rise in the number of people taught, more spiritual experiences, more baptisms, and the most important: They will be witnesses of what is described in the Book of Mormon: "All those that believed...were converted unto the Lord...and they never separated..." (Alma 23:6)


Translated by me. They got this off the Church News and it showed on my FB wall...

Adam said...

Shoot, I can tell you when inviting investigators to baptism in the first lesson happened. I was on my mission when it was encouraged, happened in 2010, in the District 2 videos put out by the church to missionaries. Once they came out our mission president ran with it. It was heavily encouraged to invite investigators to baptism at the end of lesson 1. It was encouraged to use it more in a way such as "if you come to know these things are true, will you follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized by one holding the priesthood authority of God." "Well, I don't know..." "If you [i]do[/i] come to know" "Well yeah I guess." "Awesome, I know that..." It worked well many times, other times not so much. It was easier to do in the Philippines because you had unlimited new investigator potential so it certainly did speed up the process of either progression or dropping them.

James said...

Bryan D, thanks for sharing President Ballard's words. I wish that was more widely understood, and that mission presidents and missionaries were willing to support and follow the counsel of the Brethren and refrain from pressure tactics. The Church would be more fully benefitted by a handful of converts that are sufficiently committed and will never fall away than it would be by scores of converts that are brought in through pressure tactics and whose knowledge and understanding of the Church and thus their testimonies are lacking crucial elements that will eventually lead those individuals to fall away. Thanks again.

Bryan Dorman said...

During my mission, my ZLs and APs would definitely try to pressure the missionaries to baptize, baptize, baptize...if you didn't baptize every month, it was because something was wrong with the missionary.

The President was different though. It seemed that he was trying to change the culture and even put in rules saying that the investigator needed to go to Church a certain number of times before a baptism could happen. And he seemed to be more understanding of the individual areas as well.

There were other missionaries that, like me, decided to work on our investigators until they were ready for baptism, and they would get baptized. The number of baptisms didn't really change between my time as Junior Companion and as Senior Companion / District Leader. In fact, they would go up slightly. But much more importantly, I can say with almost a certain degree of pride that in a land with less than 20% retention, the converts that I had the privilege of baptizing (and interviewing as District Leader) have remained active in the Church, to an 80% retention rate from 2007 through today.

I remembered a couple of those zone leaders that would try to pressure me into baptizing people quicker. They were also quite "fritos" in which they would disobey many missionary rules, spending the money allocated to the zone fund on taco parties leaving very little money for when the missionaries got sick, among other things. When the entire zone blanked out on baptisms, save for two baptisms (one done by my companionship, one done by the sisters in my district) and the MP came to town to see what was up, I was vindicated. The ZLs would be replaced by more competant ones and the old ZLs demoted and sent far away from each other in the infamous mission holes (places where baptisms were very rare and also very far away from the mission HQ.

Eric S. said...

Phnom Penh Temple rendering released!

Chris said...

Today on the Classic LDS Maps site, all 9 Stakes were reassigned back to the newly rededicated Baton Rouge Louisiana Temple District, and added the Mobile Alabama Stake (510815), reassigned to Baton Rouge Louisiana Temple District from the Birmingham Alabama Temple District. Making a new total of 10 Stakes assigned to Baton Rouge and 10 Stakes to Birmingham.

Eduardo said...

Bryan, you served in the Phillipines?

Bryan Dorman said...

That's a negative, Eduardo. I served in Mexico. Specifically the Tuxtla Gutierrez Mission.

Johnathan Reese Whiting said...

@Bryan D.

Nice job with the translation!

!Bien hecho con la traducción!

Johnathan Reese Whiting said...

@Bryan D.

I taught quite a few people from Tuxtla on my mission, too, and from other parts of Chiapas.

Did you ever run into any of the Chamulas?

James said...

Hello again, everyone! After literal hours and days involving a lot of hard work, I have finally been able to publish a three-part series featuring the initial version of my predictions for the April 2020 General Conference. Anyone who would like to do so is welcome to read and comment on any of those posts on my blog:

My thanks to you all in advance for your feedback, and to Matt for his continued willingness to allow me to share such updates here.

Bryan Dorman said...

@Johnathan Whiting

Yes, I did, though at the time it was absolutely forbidden to enter their central town. There were other towns of the Tzotzil (of which the Chamula were but a smaller subset of the larger tribe) where we WERE teaching.

I was in Ocosingo where another tribe, the TZELTAL, were present with the occasional LACANDON. I also was in Tuxtla Gutierrez proper for five months.

The rest of my mission I was in San Cristobal (for a week), and in Tabasco and Campeche states.

Chris said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JSA said...

The following eight missions will open in July 2020:

Brazil Recife South
Cameroon Yaounde
Ecuador Guayaquil East
Ethiopia Addis Ababa
Mozambique Beira
Tanzania Dar es Salaam
Texas Austin
Texas Dallas East

i look forward to reading insight reading these new missions

Johnathan Reese Whiting said...

@Bryan D:

Cool man!

I met a few other Mayan-speakers on the mission: Mam, Kekchi, etc. from Chiapas and Guatemala; and I knew at least one Nauatl (Aztec) investigator.

I actually served in Kentucky, but we had a lot of immigrants. I remember the Chamulas being in the news at the time for some unrest happening in the region (2002-2004).

Johnathan Reese Whiting said...

Perhaps if that Austin, Texas mission does well, we'll see a temple announced for there sooner rather than later.

James said...

Johnathan IWhiting (and anyone else interested): I have taken some time within the last week or so to publlocish quite a bit of new content on my blog. Among the most recent highlights has been my initial predictions for the April 2020 General Conference (which includes a revised, expanded, and in some cases consolidated, list of the most likely locations in which a temple may be announced during that General Conferernce. But above and beyond that, I also recently posted that updated list I have put together of temples which seem most likely to be renovated in the near future. So you, Johnathan (and anyone else interested) can find those updates at the following web address, and I'd welcome any feedback anyone has on either of those reports or on anything else:

Bryan Dorman said...

Yes the Chamulas were particularly violent. We were actually prohibited from entering the area because they had had a history of intolerance towards the Evangelical religions, the Witnesses, and even a small Islamic group from San Cristobal de las Casas that was out there doing daw'ah.

This was in 2005-07. A senior missionary couple tried doing a service project there about 2011, with little success. Follow-up happened and was successful, and now there are missionaries and a group there.

There are also other groups that have formed in the mountains, Chanal, Cancuc, and Tenango.

Johnathan Reese Whiting said...

@Bryan D

Good to hear they've made some progress.