For Mitt Romney and other Mormons, missions are a ‘refiner’s fire’

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RNS photo courtesy the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

RNS photo courtesy the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

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(RNS) Mitt Romney was a lukewarm Mormon before leaving for a 30-month missionary stint in France at age 19. He came back on fire for his faith and a budding leader in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Romney's experience is common among Mormons, where the most ardent converts are often the missionaries themselves. By Daniel Burke.

  • Barry

    Please talk to some of Mitt’s peers who ‘had a chance’ to go to Viet Nam, and ask them what a ‘refiner’s fire’ is truly like.

  • E B

    Any kind of ‘refiner’s fire’ is better than none. Ahem: Obama. No wonder he seems so immature in office. He can’t handle rejection, that’s for sure. Has he ever faced any real opposition in his life before now? The presidency is hardly the time or place for cutting teeth.

    Good article. I’m a Mormon and I appreciate the accuracy of facts and sentiments expressed here.

  • Barry

    “Any kind of ‘refiner’s fire’ is better than none.”

    Perhaps I should have made myself clear – the basic idea that this was a ‘refiner’s fire’ is ridiculous.

  • D

    Barry, your point was much better taken before you clarified yourself. Now you just sound petty, bitter, and ignorant.

  • Chris

    As a Mormon Desert Storm veteran, I respectfully suggest that both combat service and missionary service provide opportunities for us to be refined and strengthened through hardship, challenge, and through confronting the darker side of the human experience. Thank you for this article.

  • Daniel

    Thanks for your comments, all. Let’s try to keep the discussion civil, please.

    Barry, I think it’s important to note for fairness’ sake that many Mormons received the ministerial exemption from military service while serving on missions. When Romney returned in late 1968, he was again eligible for the military draft; he received a high number and was not enlisted.

    The most in-depth treatment of this period of Romney’s life, for those interested, is “The Real Romney,” a biography written by two Boston Globe staffers that was released last year. It’s a fair and comprehensive book.

  • Martha Petersen

    Thank you Chris, for your comment. Thank you for your service in the mission field, and also for our country.

  • David

    As a veteran, a returned missionary to North Carolina, and a doctoral student, there are plenty of refiner’s fires for people. You don’t have to go to war or go on a mission to have a refiner’s fire. Refiner’s fire refers to the difficult challenges that are a part of life: the death of a loved one, foreclosures, automobile accidents, bankruptcy, loss of family and friends, disease, loss of limbs, etc. Sometimes we put ourselves through these “fires” and sometimes they just happen. The point here is, when a difficult experience happens it can either bind us closer to God or it can cause a person to question ourselves and beliefs. The refiner’s fire is a metafore that refers to biblical and Book of Mormon scripture wherein the refiner is Christ and allowing the fires of life to happen until he can see his image in our countenance. A silversmith knows silver is purified when he can see his image in the silver.

  • Peter

    @Barry I served as a Mormon missionary in Madagascar, I saw poverty, racism, and death on my mission. I’m absolutely sure I experienced personally a refiners fire, as I am sure Governor Romney experienced on his mission.