“Elder Val R. Christensen Of the Seventy,” Ensign, May 1998, 104
As a young child, Elder Val R. Christensen was taught in Sunday School that he belonged to the world’s only true and living church. “In that moment I received a confidence of that testimony,” recalls Elder Christensen. “I remember the room, the teacher, and how it came to me that this was the true church. Nothing in my whole life has ever caused me to doubt that.”
Born in Hooper, Utah, on 27 September 1935 to Leonard and Jeanette Lowe Rigby, Val grew up on a farm. “My father passed away when I was a child, so I learned early in life how to work, take care of animals, plant crops and gardens, and run a farm,” he says. “It was challenging in some ways to grow up in what we now call a single-parent home, but I never felt deprived of love, affection, or attention.”
After serving a mission to western Canada from 1955 to 1957, Val received a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in secondary education administration at Utah State University and subsequently earned a doctorate at Michigan State University. He met his future wife, Ruth Ann Wood, at a canning factory during high school. Married in 1958 in the Salt Lake Temple, the couple have 5 children and 16 grandchildren. After some years of serving in the army, teaching high school, and working at Brigham Young University’s Continuing Education Center in Ogden, Utah, Brother Christensen accepted employment in 1965 at Utah State University, where he retired in 1996 as vice president of student services.
He has previously served as a regional representative, stake president, stake presidency counselor, high councilor, bishop, and bishopric counselor. Since July 1996 he has been serving as president of the Arizona Phoenix Mission. “This calling has occupied our minds and thoughts absolutely every hour of every day,” he says. “It is so inspirational to sit in the presence of our more than 200 missionaries, who are the up-and-coming leaders of the Church. We love them and often sing my favorite song, ‘Love One Another,’ at our meetings together. We appreciate the sacrifices they and their families make to have them serve.”