“Firm in the Faith,” Ensign, Feb. 1998, 68
In 1992, when missionaries invited Tom Spivey of Tiffin, Iowa, to be baptized, more was at stake than commitment to a new faith. At age 35, Tom was—and continues to be today—one of the oldest surviving people with spinal-muscular atrophy (SMA) type II, a genetic disorder that results in loss of muscle function. He had never been immersed in water before, and if water entered his lungs, he would not have the strength to cough it out.
This was a time of serious prayer for Tom and the missionaries. In spite of objections from friends and relatives, he felt impressed that he should be baptized.
Because Tom could not be taken to the baptismal font at the meetinghouse, the missionaries improvised by filling up a toddler swimming pool in the Spiveys’ kitchen. He was lowered into the water up to his neck, the prayer was said, and, while Elder Brian Rowley covered Tom’s nose and mouth, his head was immersed. He was then quickly taken out of the water and dried off. Prayers were answered, and Tom was fine.
“I know the gospel is true,” says Tom. “I have a deep love for Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ, and for my family for supporting me in my decision to be baptized.”
Although Tom has never been able to attend church, the sacrament is taken to him each Sunday, and he has been videotaped giving talks and sharing his testimony. He is a source of great inspiration to numerous friends. The missionaries especially love to visit him, and many continue to call or write him even after leaving his area. He has also corresponded via tapes and letters with disabled children and their parents.
Tom, a member of the Iowa City Second Ward, Cedar Rapids Iowa Stake, is an elders quorum district leader in charge of home teaching.—Cammon Arrington, Coralville, Iowa