Growing in the Gospel

    “Growing in the Gospel,” Ensign, Apr. 2006, 68–69

    Growing in the Gospel

    My wife and I had taught our children to pray to Heavenly Father, but we did not attend any church regularly—we believed we could love God just as well in our home. Our lives began to change when two young missionaries came to my office in early March 1997.

    They told me they would like to give me a special gift. I asked them to come to my home that evening when all my family would be there. That night they brought us not only a spiritual message but the gift of the Book of Mormon.

    During the subsequent weeks, the missionaries returned to our house many times. We learned to pray sincerely, we learned new commandments from the Lord, and finally we were invited to become members of the true Church of Jesus Christ. Baptism would be the first step in becoming associated with the Church.

    My wife and I were baptized on March 26, 1997. Three months after our baptism, our bishop called me to be Sunday School president. I resisted, saying that I could not fulfill this calling because I wasn’t prepared for it. The bishop, however, persuaded me to accept this challenge and gave me the Sunday School manual to study.

    Two months later the Gospel Doctrine teacher called me during the week to tell me she could not be at church on Sunday to give her lesson on section 98 of the Doctrine and Covenants. She named three other people who could substitute for her. I contacted them, but they all had previous engagements. As I hung up the phone after the last conversation, I felt that Heavenly Father wanted me to teach this class.

    I was not familiar with the Doctrine and Covenants, but with the help of the bishop’s first counselor, the ward library, and the lesson manual, I was able to prepare the lesson.

    I was nervous to teach ward members who knew more about the gospel than I did. But during my short time in the Church, I had learned that if we pray to Heavenly Father, He will help us. On Sunday before the class began, I asked for peace and strength. As I entered the classroom, the brothers and sisters were smiling and receptive, and they helped me. All participated attentively, and I felt that the Spirit of the Lord had blessed me to impart that important lesson.

    Afterward I had the assurance that Heavenly Father only gives us tasks that we are able to fulfill—with His assistance and help from other members.

    After eight months I received the Melchizedek Priesthood. My son, Anderson, who was not a member of the Church, had a skin problem on his neck and had already been examined by three doctors. But even after taking antibiotics he saw no improvement.

    I believed the priesthood could help him, and I explained priesthood blessings to him, but he did not accept my offer of one. He thought the medications would soon heal the infection. Finally, after several months he asked me for a blessing.

    This was the first time I had exercised my priesthood in this way. Five days later Anderson entered my room very happy. His neck was completely healed.

    As the one-year anniversary of our baptism approached, I was called to serve as the ward mission leader. This time I had no hesitation in accepting my calling. My wife was called to serve as the second counselor in the Relief Society.

    In April 1998 we were sealed in the São Paulo Brazil Temple. We will never forget that day, as we made new covenants with our Heavenly Father.

    A month after our sealing, we attended a stake conference where a new stake presidency was called and sustained. Our bishop was called into the stake presidency. Much to my surprise, I was called to serve as the new bishop of our ward. I was astonished and insecure, but I never questioned the calling. In fact, as I accepted the calling, I had the assurance that God was blessing me and that He would help me to fulfill the calling of bishop.

    As a bishop I learned that we are building the Church of Jesus Christ all across the earth and that through a prophet, seer, and revelator, He has commissioned us to take the gospel to all nations, peoples, and tongues.

    Our lives have changed because my wife and I allowed the gospel to enter our hearts. Now we understand that if we are faithful to the covenants made in the temple with Heavenly Father, He will bless us in this life, strengthen us in our callings, and eventually receive us into His presence.

    Illustrated by Daniel Lewis