previous next

“Books,” Ensign, Aug. 1973, 88


Faith Precedes the Miracle
Spencer W. Kimball
Deseret Book, 358 pp., $4.95

Faith Precedes the Miracle is not for the fainthearted. With rare wisdom, genuine compassion, and a deep understanding of human nature, President Kimball in this collected work of sermons and messages cautions, persuades, admonishes, extolls, despairs, loves, and pleads sincerely that all men will come to know their Heavenly Father and his goodness. And woven through the entire book is the unyielding thread of faith.

Speaking unequivocally and with a deep conviction of the truth of gospel principles, President Kimball says: “… know this, that just as undaunted faith has stopped the mouths of lions, made ineffective fiery flames, opened dry corridors through rivers and seas, protected against deluge and drouth, and brought heavenly manifestations at the instance of prophets, so in each of our lives faith can heal the sick, bring comfort to those who mourn, strengthen resolve against temptation, relieve from the bondage of harmful habits, lend strength to repent and change our lives, and lead to a sure knowledge of the divinity of Jesus Christ. Indomitable faith can help us live the commandments with a willing heart and thereby bring blessings unnumbered. …”

President Kimball details a practical application for gaining the kind of faith that precedes miracles: “There are in our lives reservoirs of many kinds. Some reservoirs are to store water. … There should also be reservoirs of knowledge to meet the future needs; reservoirs of courage to overcome the floods of fear that put uncertainty in lives; reservoirs of physical strength to help us meet the frequent burdens of work and illness; reservoirs of goodness; … especially reservoirs of faith so that when the world presses in upon us, we stand firm and strong.”

On Wings of Faith
By Frederick W. Babbel
Bookcraft, 190 pp., $3.95

In this history of the Church in Europe immediately after World War II, Frederick W. Babbel recounts the following incident that took place in Germany:

“After the meeting [in Karlsruhe] President [Ezra Taft] Benson stood at the rear of the meeting hall and shook hands personally with each person present. Expressions of faith and devotion lighted their faces as they felt his warmth and sincere love for them. …

“While this was proceeding, President [Max] Zimmer pointed out … a somewhat timid and emaciated sister. She had burlap sacks wrapped round her feet and legs in place of shoes. Even these were now in shreds. Her clothing was patched and tattered. As I looked at her purple-grey face, her swollen red eyes and protruding joints, … I was looking at a person in the advanced stages of starvation. …

“This good sister had lived in East Prussia. During the final days of the frightful battles in that area, her husband had been killed. She had been left with four small children, one of them a babe in arms. Under the agreements of the occupying military powers, she … was required to leave her homeland and all her basic possessions, and go to Western Germany to seek a new home. She was permitted only to take such bare necessities … as she could load into her wooden-wheeled wagon. …

“She started her journey in late summer. Having neither food nor money among her few possessions, she was forced to gather a daily subsistence from the fields and forests along the way. …

“Soon the snows came and temperatures dropped to about 40° below zero. One by one her children died, either frozen to death or the victims of starvation, or both. She buried them in shallow graves by the roadside, using a tablespoon as a shovel. Finally as she was reaching the end of her journey, her last little child died in her arms. Her spoon was gone now, so she dug a grave in the frozen earth with her bare fingers. …

“In this moment of deep sorrow and bewilderment, she felt her heart would break. In despair she contemplated how she might end her own life as so many of her fellow countrymen were doing. …

“Then she testified that as these thoughts assailed her, something within her said, ‘Get down on your knees and pray.’ And then she rapturously explained how she prayed more fervently than she had ever prayed before.

“In conclusion, she bore a glorious testimony, stating that of all ailing people in her saddened land she was one of the happiest because she knew that God lives, and that Jesus is the Christ, and that if she continued faithful and true to the end she would be saved in the celestial kingdom of God.”

Many stories such as this one can be told for each country torn by World War II. Brother Babbel served as secretary to Elder Ezra Taft Benson when Elder Benson presided over the European Mission. His book details the stories of President Benson’s mission to assist Church members in Europe in overcoming postwar problems.