Stop the Crazy Rumors about China: NO, Missionaries Are Not Being Sent There

I’ve had several people tell me that they heard of someone or even knew someone who had received a “secret” mission call from the Church to go on a mission in mainland China. The main version of this rumor has the missionary receiving a mission call letter that doesn’t say what the mission is, but just gives a phone number to call. The missionary calls it and soon is speaking with President Monson himself. Wow! President Monson then asks the missionary if he or she is willing to serve for three years, with one year in Taiwan and then the last two years in Mainland China. It’s all very TOP SECRET, the faithful missionary is told, which is why it’s quickly shared with numerous acquaintances and strangers around the world.

I’ve heard this from a few people myself. For those who “know” someone who had this secret call, when I press for details, they don’t exactly know the person, but maybe “know of” it from a second-hand source. They don’t even have a photoshopped mission call letter to substantiate the claim. Not a very sophisticated hoax. How do these things get started? A malicious lie, or was someone confused about a nephew’s call to Hong Kong and conflated that with a some other story? Is a stupid mistake coupled with unintentional exaggeration by other parties the cause, or is there some malicious soul out there with nothing better to do?

The China missionary rumor has become annoying enough that Elder Russell M. Nelson asked missionaries to help stomp it out. He also explained very clearly why it is ridiculous. See “Elder Russell M. Nelson Urges Missionaries to Refute Rumors” at Also see a related blog post, “Debunking Mormon Myths: Mainland China Opening for Missionary Work” at LDS Church Growth.

This silly rumor resonates with the arguably excessive interest that a lot of Mormons place on China (OK, it’s OK for me to be interested because I live here and love China). China is important, yes, but when it comes to getting excited about the future of missionary work, why not be excited about the billions of untaught people all over the world that we can legally teach but aren’t reaching? India has a billion people–why doesn’t India get its fair share of interest and wild rumors? Why aren’t we hearing about, say, the secret Mormon temple deep inside the Taj Mahal–oops, that was TOP SECRET. Please don’t put this on the Internet.

Author: Jeff Lindsay

11 thoughts on “Stop the Crazy Rumors about China: NO, Missionaries Are Not Being Sent There

  1. I just had 2 ward members in my office today telling me about something like this they had heard. I told them Mormon urban legend.

  2. There are a lot of myths and false doctrines I wish the church could stamp out. And once rumors get started…..sigh.
    I was told I was being blasphemous for watching something that SLC said not to watch, which of course was one of those rumors.

  3. How does this stuff (rumors) even get started?! I never understood and I guess we will never know.

  4. Well, if the rumor that there is a temple deep inside the Taj Mahal ever goes viral, at least we'll know where that one got started.

  5. Who knows how rumors get started, but they happen at all levels. As per the latest official introduction to OD1, we don't even know why blacks stopped getting the priesthood: Church records offer no clear insights into the origins of this practice. Church leaders believed that a revelation from God was needed to alter this practice and prayerfully sought guidance.

    Thanks for clarifying this rumor.

  6. My father is serving as the mission president in Taiwan Taichung right now, and was told by the Area Authority to "authoritatively deny" this rumor, which is "pillaging" this Church right now. It is not true. He gets asked about it frequently, because often a variant of this rumor is that the missionary is first called to Taiwan and then the call changes to China. It is not true.

  7. And then, there is Jeff Lindsay, in China, ostensibly on a job. But there he is spreading his good will and charm to all he meets. Then, when the real request to the Chienes authorities comes, they will have this picture of a happy smiling and friendly LDS for an example and will see pictures of the young, rosy cheeked missionaries that will be sent and their hearts will melt. Couls be that the East Berlin Temple scenario will play out again.

    By the way, missionaries are still allowed in Hong Kong and they get to share the gospel with quite a few mainland Chinese as it is right now. So the effort is underway as we write, in some rspects.

    How long after the Temple was loowed in Hong Kong that the wall came down? I do not remember.


  8. The very same rumor was around twenty years ago, when I was in the MTC… except the "secret" mission call was to the Soviet Union.

  9. I just wanted to press the "Like" button on Glenn's comment.

    I've never met him in person, but I'm absolutely positive that Jeff is the best representative we could have in China (or just about anywhere). How could you not like his positivity and outlook?

  10. if we look to a person we just look first whats inside not the outside and we should not generalize everything.


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