Following the Spirit of the Lord in Missionary Work

by Karen Dupaix

“We need the Spirit of the Lord in every capacity we are called to act in, whether in preaching or administering the ordinances of the gospel,” Wilford Woodruff testified.1

Missionary work in Jesus Christ’s Church always has been and always will be directed by the Holy Ghost. In Acts 16:6–10, we read that the Apostle Paul is directed by the Spirit of the Lord where he should go and where he shouldn’t go while serving as a missionary. By following that direction, Paul was led to a woman named Lydia, who accepted the gospel and was baptized, along with her household. She also provided Paul and his companions a place to stay with her and her family for a time.

In the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, the Spirit influences missionaries in the same way as He did in Paul’s day. Like Paul, Wilford Woodruff was led by the Spirit where to go to find those who were prepared to receive the gospel. He often told this story from his mission in England: “I went before the Lord in prayer and asked Him where I should go; the Spirit said, ‘go south.’ According to the directions of the Spirit, on the 3rd, I went to Herefordshire, and called upon John Benbow at Castlefroom; I found a people prepared for the gospel.”2 From this Spirit-led teaching opportunity, Wilford Woodruff baptized over six hundred people who were formerly members of the United Brethren congregation.

As a young missionary, I sometimes didn’t recognize when I was being prompted by the Spirit until I looked back later and saw the Spirit’s influence. For example, after our plans fell through one day, I suggested that we visit a particular member family. My companion reminded me that the family I suggested was out of town for the day, but after discussing several other options, the thought came to me again to visit the family I had mentioned before. When I made the suggestion again, my companion agreed that we should go. As we approached, we saw the oldest son’s girlfriend sitting on the porch swing, waiting for her boyfriend to get off work. We asked her if we could teach her the discussions, and she agreed. Not long after, she was baptized, and nearly forty years later is still an active member of the Church.

How blessed we are to have the gift of the Holy Ghost which can prompt us to be in the right place at the right time to bless the lives of our brothers and sisters, to move forward the kingdom of God on the earth and build up Zion in these latter days.

Karen Dupaix was born in Portland, Oregon, and currently lives with her husband and family in Saratoga Springs, Utah. She enjoys gardening, sewing, and serving as a temple worker with her husband, Paul. They are the parents of seven children and have seven grandchildren.

  1. Discourse by Wilford Woodruff, April 6, 1883, The Wilford Woodruff Papers,
  2. Wilford Woodruff’s 1858 Autobiography in the Deseret News, p. 4, The Wilford Woodruff Papers,