“Deciding to Serve,” Ensign, Jan. 2007, 60–61
As a child, our oldest son, Brian, never liked to sing. Period. No exceptions. I love music and felt the need to do something to encourage him to pay attention to the profound messages of the hymns. Reminding Brian that the song of the righteous is a prayer to the Lord (see D&C 25:12), I encouraged him to follow my finger with his eyes as I ran my finger along the words. While the congregation sang the hymns, Brian read them, and I felt that he was, in his own way, offering a prayer to the Lord.
As our four children reached adulthood, our youngest son, Jeff, made the decision to serve a mission and was called to the Idaho Pocatello Mission. Jeff had been on his mission for about six months when my husband, daughter, and I joined Brian, the nonsinger, for sacrament meeting in his singles ward. Brian had recently graduated from college but had not committed to going on a mission. Similar to his aversion to singing out loud, he feared public speaking to the point of being petrified at the thought of speaking in front of people as a missionary.
That day in sacrament meeting three young people who were preparing to leave on missions gave inspiring talks. When the congregation began singing the closing hymn, “I Believe in Christ” (Hymns, no. 134), I smiled at my now-grown son Brian and reverted back to my old technique of running my finger beneath the words. It immediately brought a grin to both of us. Then as we sang the third verse and I ran my finger beneath the words, I noticed a subtle change in Brian as he read the verse:
I believe in Christ—my Lord, my God!
My feet he plants on gospel sod.
I’ll worship him with all my might;
He is the source of truth and light.
I believe in Christ; he ransoms me.
From Satan’s grasp he sets me free,
And I shall live with joy and love
In his eternal courts above.
I glanced at Brian and found that he was fighting back the tears. At first I was afraid that something was wrong, but then I felt a swelling in my soul and my own eyes began to fill with tears. The Spirit was strong; I felt as if Brian and I had been engulfed in it, although I did not understand why it was happening.
After the closing prayer, my husband, daughter, and I quickly left the chapel with Brian, who was still visibly moved and unable to speak. He and I went to his car and sat quietly. When he could finally gather his emotions, he whispered, “I need to do what Jeff is doing.” I said, “You mean go on a mission?” He responded humbly and tearfully, “Yes.”
I began to cry too, and we both embraced each other and rejoiced. Brian told me that during the hymn his heart had begun to swell, and he had literally felt that “the Spirit of God like a fire [was] burning” (Hymns, no. 2). It was a testimony to him that he needed to serve a mission. He could no longer delay or deny the prompting.
After he made that momentous decision, Brian met with his bishop and began the application process. He received a call and served two rewarding years in the England London South Mission, where—with the help of the Lord—he learned to both sing and speak publicly without fear.
Kathleen Krueger Bishop, Texas