Friend to Friend: Family and Gospel


Ben B. Banks
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ (Rom. 1:16).

Family and Gospel

My mother didn’t get mad at me very often. She was a very patient and loving woman. But one day when I arrived home after school, she was particularly upset. You see, school had been out since the middle of the afternoon, and it was after 7:00 P.M. when I finally got home! She was very worried about me because she did not know where I was.

It wasn’t until I arrived home that I realized that I had forgotten to tell her where I was going. I quickly explained that after school I had walked the four or five blocks to the newspaper office downtown to ask for a job as a newspaper boy. I had seen other boys about my age, eight or nine years old, standing on street corners, selling newspapers, and that’s what I wanted to do. That very day they assigned me a street corner, and I was so excited to start selling newspapers that I completely forgot about how worried my mother would be. Mother forgave me, but I knew that I wouldn’t again make the mistake of not telling her where I was!

The idea of getting a newspaper job came to me because I wanted to help my family. I learned very early in my life that work was an important and essential part of a happy life. My father died when I was a baby, and my mother raised me and my six older brothers and sisters on her own. With her father’s help, she bought some rental units near downtown Salt Lake City, and that’s how she earned enough money to provide for our family.

We all helped with the maintenance and upkeep of those apartments; they were our family project. We worked together and played together while we cleaned the buildings, painted and wallpapered, and took care of the yards. Even though I was the youngest, I did my part—I weeded, picked up trash, painted, cleaned, anything I could. We all understood that we were working together so that we could have money for food and clothes and other things we needed.

The newspaper job was another way I could help Mother. That summer I earned almost one hundred dollars for my family. I felt a deep love and loyalty to my mother and tried very hard to do things that would make her happy. I learned much from following her example. Although she was a widow and had a large family, she served in many callings in our ward, including Relief Society president for several years.

Mother took me to many of her meetings. I felt like the ward “mascot.” All the sisters in the ward took good care of me and made me feel very special. I loved Primary, too, because the teachers were so kind. As I look back on it, I think that they probably treated all the children in their classes with great love and patience, but they made me feel very loved. Because of them, my memories of Primary always stir wonderful and warm feelings within my heart.

My family also strengthened my ability to live the gospel. We prayed as a family every day. I can’t remember missing a single day of family prayer. That is a great legacy that I appreciate today. After I married, my wife and I continued that tradition in our own family. We also read the scriptures together as a family.

One of my favorite scriptures is Romans 1:16 [Rom. 1:16]: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.” This scripture reminds me to not be ashamed of the gospel and to be true to my knowledge of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Sometimes I see people, both adults and youth, who seem almost apologetic or embarrassed by their membership in the Church and their belief in Jesus Christ. This should not be! The gospel is a precious treasure, and we are very blessed to have it in our lives. We should be grateful for what we know and believe, live the gospel as fully as we can, and look for opportunities to share it with others. Many people are looking for something to make them happy, and I know that the gospel of Jesus Christ can bring happiness to those who are obedient and faithful.

I am grateful to my mother for teaching me about the gospel and for setting a worthy example that I could follow. I sensed even as a young boy that she was sacrificing a great deal to raise my brothers and sisters and me and to teach us what was right. I knew that she loved us deeply and wanted us to be happy. Because of her wonderful example and great love, I never wanted to do anything to disappoint or hurt her. Many times in my life, when I was trying to make a right and good choice, I would ask myself what Mother would want me to do. That was always a great guideline for me to use.

At a young age, I also realized that Heavenly Father loved me just as much as, or more than, Mother did. He, too, wanted me to be happy. He loves each one of us and wants us to be happy. Whenever you have a choice to make, ask yourself what Heavenly Father would want you to do. Ask yourself what would please Him. When you use that as your guideline, you will make choices that will bring you joy and happiness, choices that will draw you closer to Him.

[photo] On his wedding day

[photo] At age 6

[photo] Elder Banks with his wife in Peru

[photo] At age 10