Four-year-old John M. Madsen was lying at death’s door when his mother, Edith Louis Gundersen, promised Heavenly Father that if her son was saved, she would do all she could to see that he served the Lord.
“It was at that tender age that I received a witness of the truthfulness of the gospel,” recalls Elder Madsen, one of the newest members of the Seventy. “I had been in a coma for two days, and the moment my father put his hands on my head to give me a blessing, I became conscious.”
Two additional significant spiritual developments occurred years later when early-morning seminary was introduced in Pullman, Washington, where the Madsen family was living.
A young Ogden girl attended the seminary class while visiting her cousin. Eight years later that young girl, Diane Dursteler, married John Madsen.
“It was also while attending seminary that my personal testimony deepened and I determined that I was going to serve a mission, marry in the temple, and serve the Lord throughout my life,” Elder Madsen notes.
And that’s exactly what has occurred. Born 24 April 1939, Elder Madsen served a mission in the North Central States from 1959–61. He married in 1963 and has five living children. (One son died at birth.)
Elder Madsen graduated from Washington State University with a major in zoology and a minor in chemistry. Originally, the Madsens planned to head for dental school. “But I was invited to teach full-time seminary, so we changed plans,” he explains.
In addition to teaching seminary and institute for the last thirty years, Elder Madsen has served as a regional representative, mission president and bishop.
“This new calling is overwhelming, humbling,” says Elder Madsen. “Anyone facing such responsibility knows that they cannot do it alone. But I have a love of the Lord’s word and his work and I am committed to build up his kingdom.”