Robert L. Lively Jr. is dean emeritus at the University of Maine at Farmington. While not a member of the LDS Church, he has interviewed over 275 missionaries, mission presidents, various Church leaders (including President Hinckley), and other key figures involved in the missionary work of the LDS Church. He has visited the Provo Missionary Training Center and observed classroom instruction. Lively is a student of missionaries and of their desires to serve and bless others through the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The genesis of this book comes from an experience years ago in a class that Lively taught, exposing his students to various religions by inviting adherents of those religions to come and explain their beliefs. When he suggested that the Mormons be invited, his students balked. Most had had some type of experience with Mormons and preferred not to revisit it. Lively persevered, and the Mormons became the favorite presenting group. As these experiences mounted, Lively realized that no one had ever written, from an outsider's perspective, why members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints serve missions.