A Ward Mission Leader We Can All Learn From

Brother Vaughn Judi of the Mapleton 20th Ward moved to Mapleton about a year ago. He moved here from Emery County and was immediately called to be the ward mission leader.

The first thing he noticed when he moved to Utah, as he started going to meet people who are not of our faith in his ward, was that the reception he received was often somewhat chilly, something he had not experienced down in Emery County.

He hypothesized that so many well-meaning members of the church have approached these people for so long, that they had developed a defense mechanism whereby they immediately push back when approached about the gospel.

So instead, he just loved them, and was pleasantly persistent.

Last night I got to go on splits with Brother Judi for one hour. I’m in a different ward, but I called him up and asked if he needed a junior companion. I told him I wanted to learn from him what he does that is having so much impact in his ward and our stake.

You see, his ward teaches as many discussions as all the rest of our stake put together… every week.

He replied, I don’t do anything special, I just try and love and serve and be persistent.

I asked him how often he goes out, and he said, “we’re so busy teaching discussions, that I don’t get out as much to meet new people as I used to. But as soon as we don’t have enough people to teach, I just go out visiting again.”

He doesn’t like to think about the numbers, meaning our Stake goal of having two discussions a week per ward for the full-time missionaries. He says it puts it in a different perspective than what he likes to think of. Instead, he just thinks about the people and their needs.

But it is interesting, he has more ‘numbers’ than anyone else by a significant factor… By not focusing on the numbers at all!

As I met at his home, he had us start with a word of prayer. His prayer was pretty long, and he asked that the Spirit of the Lord would proceed us to the homes of those we were about to visit.

We visited four homes in one hour.

He pulled out a crumpled handwritten list from his pocket of all the families he had been thinking about lately.

It was written in pencil, not a computer printout or anything.

The first house nobody was home.

And he kept saying, “you know Sunday evenings aren’t always the best to find those at home who are not members of our faith, or haven’t been coming much lately.”

I asked why.

He grinned and looked at me like I was just a little slow and said, “today’s the last day of the deer hunt. And if you’re not coming to church it’s cause you’re out doing something else on Sunday, and you usually aren’t back until later in the evening.”

He continued, “So I also go out one or two nights a week, and I’m a lot more successful finding people at home.”

I ask if he calls to set appointments first, and he said “only if people ask me to.” He said, “I like to just visit, because it gets me into there lives.”

I noticed he had a stack of orange flyers on the floor of the car, they talked about a ‘trunk or treat’ party coming up on Halloween night. He said he always likes to have something fun or interesting to invite people to.

This was just on a circle in a neighborhood in the ward, in somebody’s driveway, with hot chocolate and donuts. Everyone we went to was interested in coming by, and bringing their kids.

The next three homes in a row all let us in to talk for a while. In each home we sat or stood and Brother Judi just chatted and talked and conversed and showed he cared, he knew a little something about each family, and learned a lot more as he conversed.

I asked him how he knew who to visit.

He said he worked closely with the bishop and the ward clerk to learn those who needed to progress to the next saving ordinances in the Gospel. Whether it was going to the temple, getting the priesthood, or having a spouse or child baptized; he had done his homework on each family and new what they needed.

He said he also watches who comes to church and who doesn’t.

He seeks them out because he cares.

Then he just helps them start reading the scriptures, saying their prayers, and coming out on Sunday to church. Every one of the families we met with seems to appreciate him and appreciated a little nudge here and there.

Before we went into each home, he reviewed with me the names of the mother and father, and each child or young adult. He had all their names written down neatly in pencil.

I watched what he said at the door.

He said “I’m still a little new here, and would love to just get to know you more, could we come in and just visit for a bit?”

Every single family that was home invited us in.

We talked about people we knew, the family pet, whether a cat or dog, the children in the home, the schools they were going to, the things they enjoyed, the hobbies that they had, the deer hunt and how it was going, the job of the wife or the husband, or just whatever came up that was of interest.

The common thing I noted was that Brother Judi was interested in everything they said. He leaned forward on the edge of his chair and kept the conversation going.

At the fourth home of the evening, as we were about to leave, he said, “we have a great pair of missionaries in our area who have some lessons that could really help you get to the temple, could I bring them by to share those with you?”

They said yes, and he set an appointment for the following Sunday afternoon at 2 o’clock.

At no home did we stay very long, just to the point when the conversation started to lag a little bit, we would say her goodbyes, commit to visit again, and go see another family.

We always offered to leave with a word of prayer, and every single family took us up on our offer.

He said the other thing he likes to do is offer for the missionaries to come by and just bless them and their homes.

And I’m thoroughly convinced, that the second and third families will receive that same invitation to meet with the missionaries and respond the same way, when they are ready.

And Brother Judi will follow up with love, until they do.

On my way home I stopped at our bishops house and shared the wonderful experience I had just had.

Then I called our stake High Councilman over missionary work and shared the same thing over the phone.

I asked them both, what would it be like if all of us were like Brother Judi?