Friend to Friend


Merrill J. Bateman
The rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven (D&C 121:36).

One cold winter morning when I was about eleven years old, I woke up with the strongest feeling that something was wrong. I went upstairs to see my parents, but they weren’t there. In about five or ten minutes the phone rang, and it was my mother calling from the hospital. She told me that my father had been in a car accident.

My father worked late hours at a dairy that was an hour’s drive from home. That night he had had to stay past his usual quitting time. As he was driving home, he fell asleep and his car rolled about five times. My father was severely injured when he was thrown through the windshield. He landed in a puddle of mud and snow. The cold helped stop the bleeding, but when he was taken to the hospital, the doctors who examined him didn’t expect him to live.

I’ll never forget the bishop and his two counselors coming to our home that afternoon. They gathered our family together, and the bishop offered a prayer that my father’s life would be spared and that he would return to his normal health. As I listened to the prayer, I had a very warm, strong feeling that my father wouldn’t pass away.

He was in a coma for three weeks, but the bishop’s prayer was answered. In fact, a highway patrolman, a friend of my bishop’s, wrote a book in which he talked about the worst accident he had ever seen, in which the man’s life was spared. That man was my father.

This experience taught me about the power of the priesthood. The bishop and his counselors showed me what it meant to be true priesthood leaders. I learned to value the priesthood leadership of the ward as they helped our family during those frightening weeks. It helped me to know that there really is a Heavenly Father, that he knows us and cares about us and listens to our prayers.

I like the fourth article of faith because it tells us exactly what we need to do in order to live with our Heavenly Father again someday: “We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.”

When I was young, I loved to read. I liked adventure books, and early on I learned to love the stories in the scriptures. We had some children’s books in our home that had many of the Bible stories in them—Daniel in the lions’ den, Moses in the bulrushes, Jacob and Esau and the pottage, those kinds of stories.

And I’ve always liked the Joseph Smith story. I’ve believed for a long time that you can talk to Heavenly Father and that he will answer your prayers. The promise Joseph read in James 1:5–6, which states that God will answer anyone who asks in faith, is real. It doesn’t apply just to Joseph Smith—it applies to all of us. I strongly feel that it especially applies to young people who are searching and want to know if the gospel is true.

[photo] Seven years old

[photo] At age 4, with his three-year-old sister, Beverly

[photo] At age 16 with his brother, Blaine, and sisters, Sandra and Beverly, and parents

[photo] Bishop Bateman with his wife, Marilyn