Get the Fire! Young Mormon Missionaries Abroad

Three Mormon men embark on a rite of passage in Germany as part of an effort by Mormon missionaries to spread their faith at home and abroad.

Get the fire 01
Independent Lens
Premiere Date
December 23, 2003
60 minutes
Funding Initiative
Open Call
  • Award laurels-r Created with Sketch.
    2003 "Cologne Conference" 13th International TV and Film Festival-Top Ten Nonfiction program
  • We fund untold stories for public media.

    Learn more about funding opportunities with ITVS.

    The Film

    Filmmaker Nancy du Plessis first noticed the Mormon missionaries in the Munich subway. With their white shirts, dark suits, and name badges, the short-haired adolescent boys stood out from the other passengers, nervously talking and joking in American English.

    Each year, approximately 60,000 Mormons travel abroad for missionary duty. This religious rite of passage is a crucial one: At age 19, missionaries — who are predominately male — leave their lives behind and, often with their families footing the bill, devote two years to spreading the faith across the United States and throughout the world. Get the Fire! Young Mormon Missionaries Abroad follows three boys from their homes in Salt Lake City through their training and service in Germany. What is it like for them to leave their families behind, move to a foreign country, and talk to people about God in a language they barely know?

    Interspersed throughout footage of these three young men are interviews with five former missionaries who have subsequently left the Church, including Adam Bass, who grew up Mormon, and was sent home three weeks into his Chile mission because he was gay; and Robert Shiveley, who married a member and became unable to reconcile the Church’s teachings with his own intellect. Get the Fire! examines how the missionaries serve out their time abroad and return to Utah as local heroes — despite culture shock, pressure, hard work, and isolation — and leaves the audience to ponder what the young Mormon missionary program is about.