The Opportunity to Testify
October 2004

The Opportunity to Testify

With … tender feelings of gratitude for all who have influenced my life in past years, I commit myself to the future.

My dear brothers and sisters, here in Salt Lake City and around the world, it is good to be with you. I extend my love and my greetings to Elder Bednar and Elder Robert Oaks in their new callings. To describe my inner feelings, I would say I am calm as a hurricane, or even better, I am happy and frightened. In one sentence, I need your prayers; I need the Lord.

Having received a call and been given a sacred trust that will completely influence my life forever, my feelings are tender and my emotions often close to tears.

I have a great sense of inadequacy, and I have felt a sweet agony from a deep and often painful examination of my soul during the many hours which have passed day and night since Friday morning this week.

After President Gordon B. Hinckley extended the call to me to become an Apostle and a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, I left my busy office to share this totally unexpected news with my beloved Harriet. At this most important time in our lives, we have cherished the quiet sacredness of our home as a place of refuge and of defense. How grateful I am for my wife, for the loving comfort and strong support she has been throughout my life. Next to the gift of life itself and the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, Harriet is the greatest blessing which has come into my life. I wish to express my deep love and appreciation to our children and our grandchildren for their prayers and love, but most of all for their example. Our children and grandchildren live in Germany and are building the kingdom of God in our homeland. The joys of the gospel of Jesus Christ and its eternal blessings bridge over the distance of many thousands of miles and bring happiness and comfort into our lives.

I express my gratitude and love to each member of our family and to a large number of friends and teachers along the way who teach and serve and lift to make us who we are.

I express my deepest feelings of love and gratitude to the members of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve for their love and kindness. In the closing of my stewardship as one of the seven Presidents of the Seventy, I want to express my love and admiration to the Seventy. They are truly especial witnesses of Christ. Instead of any others they are the men the Twelve call upon when they need assistance. I give thanks to those dedicated men who are giving so much of their time, talents, and spiritual power to build the kingdom. Words cannot describe how I love the 10 1/2 years I had the privilege and joy to serve as a Seventy. I will cherish the example and friendship of the members of the Quorums of the Seventy forever.

I want to thank each and every member of the Church throughout the world for your faithfulness despite temptations; for your love; for your dedication to the principles and doctrine of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ; for your willingness to follow the living prophet in making the wards and branches grow; for your sacrifices in giving of your time and energy and your emotional, spiritual, and temporal substance. Thank you for paying an honest tithing and not neglecting the poor and the lonely. I have seen the face of Christ in your faces, in your deeds, and in your exemplary lives. You are a modern miracle.

I thank you for sustaining, with your hand and with your heart, the general officers of the Church. Yesterday we sustained the general leadership of the Church according to the principle of common consent. Not one of these Church leaders is seeking such a position, nor are they declining such a call, because they know it comes by revelation from God.

We are grateful for your prayers, and we pray for you. We love you, and we need your love. We sustain you, and we need your willingness to serve the Lord wherever you are and to whatever position you are called. In the Lord’s Church, every calling is important.

President Gordon B. Hinckley said: “We are here to assist our Father in His work and His glory, ‘to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man’ (Moses 1:39). Your obligation is as serious in your sphere of responsibility as is my obligation in my sphere” (“This Is the Work of the Master,” Ensign, May 1995, 71). And the President asked us to reach out to others and bless the lives of those around us. He said: “Let there be cultivated an awareness in every member’s heart of his own potential for bringing others to a knowledge of the truth. … Let him pray with great earnestness about it” (“Find the Lambs, Feed the Sheep,” Liahona, July 1999, 120; Ensign, May 1999, 106).

My life was eternally blessed by one choice member who reached out more than 50 years ago. Some days after World War II, my grandmother was standing in line for food when an elderly single sister with no family of her own invited her to sacrament meeting in Zwickau, East Germany. My grandmother and my parents accepted the invitation. They went to church, felt the Spirit, were uplifted by the kindness of the members, and were edified by the hymns of the Restoration. My grandmother, my parents, and my three siblings were all baptized. I had to wait two years because I was only six. How grateful I am for a spiritually sensitive grandmother, teachable parents, and a wise, white-haired, elderly single sister who had the sweet boldness to reach out and follow the Savior’s example by inviting us to “come and see” (see John 1:39). Her name was Sister Ewig, which translates in English to “Sister Eternal.” I will be eternally grateful for her love and example.

With these tender feelings of gratitude for all who have influenced my life in past years, I commit myself to the future. My heart and mind are filled with joy that for the rest of my life I will have the opportunity to “talk of Christ, … rejoice in Christ, … preach of Christ, [and] prophesy of Christ” (2 Ne. 25:26), all this as a special witness of our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ (see D&C 107:23).

Realizing my weaknesses, I gain great comfort from the instructions given by the Lord. In the Doctrine and Covenants we read:

“The fulness of my gospel might be proclaimed by the weak and the simple unto the ends of the world, and before kings and rulers. …

“And inasmuch as they sought wisdom they might be instructed; …

“And inasmuch as they were humble they might be made strong, and blessed from on high, and receive knowledge” (D&C 1:23, 26, 28).

And in the Book of Mormon we read:

“I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments … save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them” (1 Ne. 3:7).

And in the Old Testament we receive comfort:

“The Spirit of the Lord will come upon thee, and thou shalt … be turned into another man,” “God gave him another heart,” and “God is with thee” (1 Sam. 10:6, 9, 7).

I trust these wonderful promises. I therefore pledge to you, to these my Brethren, and to the Lord that I will live to be worthy to know the will of the Lord and to act accordingly.

God our Heavenly Father knows us by name. Jesus Christ lives; He is the Messiah; He loves us. The Atonement of Jesus Christ is real; it brings immortality to all and opens the door to eternal life.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is again on the earth. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true and living.

The Book of Mormon is a second witness of Jesus Christ and a manifestation of the truthfulness of the Prophet Joseph Smith. I love the Prophet Joseph. I love President Gordon B. Hinckley, who is the prophet of God and holds all the keys of the kingdom at this time, keys which prophets have held in uninterrupted succession since Joseph Smith.

These things I know in my heart and in my mind. And of these things I testify in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.