“How Could I Sustain Him?” Ensign, June 2004, 67–68
I had been a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints only a short while, and I was very happy. I arose early every Sunday to attend church with my young daughter, and I knew I was being well fed spiritually. Then one Sunday I had a disturbing experience.
It was ward conference, and when our stake president spoke, his words were very special to me. Then he said, “Brothers and sisters, I would like you to raise your right hand to show that you sustain President Gordon B. Hinckley as our prophet and President of the Church.” All 50 or so members of my ward raised their hands—except me. The stake president then asked that we sustain the other General Authorities. Once again I did not raise my hand. Finally he asked us to sustain our local leaders. “Now I can raise my hand,” I thought. “I know these leaders, so I can sustain them.”
No one asked me why I had not raised my hand to sustain the prophet and the General Authorities—probably because they knew I was a new member of the Church. But the experience continued to disturb me. “How can I sustain President Hinckley when I do not know him?” I wondered. “And how can I possibly know him when I live in Brazil and he lives in the United States? To sustain him, I need to know him and see him face-to-face.”
Then the Spirit began to speak to me: “You never saw Jesus Christ face-to-face, but you sustain Him.”
“Yes, but I know Him through the scriptures, which testify of Him.”
“You can also know the prophet, even without seeing him face-to-face.”
“By reading and pondering his words. Pray for guidance from Heavenly Father, and He will help you to understand how to sustain the prophet.”
And that is what I did. During the following days I read several of President Hinckley’s talks. I watched him and listened to him speak on videos, observing every detail I could about him and his teachings. And I prayed for understanding.
Then one day as I was reading an article in the Liahona, President Hinckley’s words penetrated my soul deeply: “It is never too late to learn. I believe this with all my heart” (“A Conversation with Single Adults,” Liahona, Nov. 1997, 22; Ensign, Mar. 1997, 62). I also believed with all my heart and felt that it was not too late for me to learn.
For a long time I looked at the picture of the prophet printed beside his article. Suddenly I felt as though I were right in front of him. I looked at his eyes—eyes that seemed to speak of eternity. I looked at his face—which radiated peace. I had studied his teachings and felt the Spirit testify of them. For the first time I knew that I knew President Hinckley and that I could trust him and sustain him.
Profound well-being enveloped me, and I felt a desire to raise my right hand, not only in front of the members of my ward, but in front of the entire world. Through the witness of the Spirit, I could declare with complete conviction, “I too sustain the prophet.”