Stretching the Cords of the Tent
Brothers and sisters, we have witnessed a miracle; I’m so grateful for Elder Hunter in exemplifying whom we should follow.
It is with a deep sense of concern and inadequacy that I come to the pulpit today. For two days, two passages of scripture have dominated my thoughts. One is Daniel, chapter 2, and the other is the fifty-fourth chapter of Isaiah, both of them related. Daniel 2 describes the vision of Nebuchadnezzar and Daniel’s interpretation of the stone cut out of the mountain in the last days, representing the kingdom established by God that will roll across the earth, crushing peacefully all nations and inviting all to come to Christ (see Dan. 2:44–45).
Isaiah, fifty-fourth chapter, verses one and two, talks about the tent which represents the gospel of Christ. He states that in the last days the cords of the tent would be stretched across the earth and stakes would be planted in every land (see Isa. 54:1–2). We literally are seeing that fulfilled today. As I have thought about these passages, I have thought of the awesome task of supporting the Brethren in carrying the gospel to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people. The responsibility of the Presiding Bishopric and all those who work with them is to aid the Brethren in their worldwide ministry. Because of those visions of Isaiah and Daniel, I plead with you, brothers and sisters, for help through your faith and prayers. I desire with all my heart to be a servant to these men and to the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Today I pay tribute to my wife. She has stood beside me for thirty-five years. We moved nineteen times in the first twenty years of our marriage. She thought she had married an unstable man. But I pay tribute to her. I have marveled in the last eight months as she has worked by my side in the Asia North Area. Weekend after weekend we have gone to conferences, and I have watched as this little blonde-haired woman, among all these beautiful black-haired Saints, has won their hearts over and over again. There have been crowds of women around her giving her hugs as we have left. She is a mother of seven children and grandmother to fifteen. More importantly, she is my eternal companion. I’m grateful for her.
May I close my testimony with a short story. A few months ago, Sister Bateman and I were touring the Japan Fukuoka Mission. The missionaries in Kumamoto introduced us to a young Japanese brother who had just joined the Church and then told us of his conversion. He was from a non-Christian background. When he met the missionaries, he was interested in the message. He liked the young men who were teaching him, but during the course of the lessons he could not understand or feel the need for a Savior. The missionaries took him through the lessons and taught him about our Heavenly Father, Christ, and the plan of salvation, but he didn’t have a witness. The missionaries wondered what they should do and decided one day to show him a film, a Church film that deals with the Atonement. It is called The Bridge. The young man saw the film and was disturbed by it, went home, and couldn’t sleep all that night, but still he didn’t have a witness.
The next morning he went to work. He worked in an optician’s shop making eyeglasses. During the course of the day, an elderly woman came in. He remembered her coming in a few weeks before. She had broken her glasses. She needed a new pair. When she had come in earlier, she didn’t have enough money and had gone away to save more in order to purchase the new glasses. As she came in that day, she again showed him her spectacles and showed him the money that she now had. He realized that she didn’t have enough yet. Then a thought came to him: I have some money. I don’t need to tell her. I can make up the difference. So he told her the money she had was adequate, took her glasses, made an appointment for her to return when he had finished making the spectacles, and sent her on her way.
She returned later. He had the glasses ready for her. He handed them to her, and she put them on. “Miemasu! Miemasu! I see. I see.” Then she began to cry. At that point, a burning sensation began to grow within his bosom and swelled within him. He said, “Wakari masu! Wakari masu! I understand. I understand.” He began to cry. Out the door he ran, looking for the missionaries. When he found them, he said, “I see! My eyes have been opened! I know that Jesus is the Son of God. I know the stone was rolled away from the tomb and on that glorious Easter morning He arose from the dead. He can make up the difference in my life when I fall short.”
I pledge my all to the service of the Master. I have a deep testimony of Him and of His work on this earth. He is the one who guides and directs the affairs of this church. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.