Did You Save Him?

By Elder Jacob de Jager

of the First Quorum of the Seventy

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    (Adapted from an October 1976 general conference address. See Ensign, November 1976, pages 56–57.)

    Elder Jacob de Jager

    I would like to go back in thought to my native Holland where six generations of my father’s ancestors lived in the village of Scheveningen at the seashore.

    On one occasion, during a severe storm, a fishing boat was in distress, and a rowboat went out to rescue its crew. The waves were enormous, and each of the men at the oars had to use all his strength and energy to reach the unfortunate sailors.

    When the rowboat finally reached the fishing boat, one of the victims had to stay behind because the rescue boat was too small to carry everyone. The rescuers made it back to the beach, but the crew was too exhausted from their fight with the storm winds, the waves, and the sweeping rains to make the second trip.

    The local captain of the coast guard asked for volunteers to make the second trip. Among those who stepped forward without hesitation was nineteen-year-old Hans.

    When Hans stepped forward, his mother panicked and said, “Hans, please don’t go. Your father died at sea when you were four years old, and your older brother, Pete, has been reported missing at sea for more than three months now. You are the only son left to me!”

    But Hans said, “Mom, I feel that I have to do it. It is my duty.”

    Hans boarded the rowboat, took the oars, and disappeared into the night.

    After more than an hour, the rowboat came into sight again. When the rescuers approached the beach, the captain of the coast guard called vigorously against the storm, “Did you save him?”

    Hans rose from his rowing bench and shouted with all his might, “Yes! And tell Mother that it is my brother, Pete!”

    I pray that the Lord may inspire us to have the personal courage to go on a rescue mission by sharing the gospel with our brothers and sisters.

    Illustrated by Robert T. Barrett