While a missionary, Elder Gordon B. Hinckley was assigned to serve as an assistant to Elder Jospeh F. Merrill, who presided over the European missions. One day Elder Merrill gave the young elder a tough assignment.
Elder Merrill: These newspapers have all printed reviews of a very unflattering book about the Church. I want you to go to the publisher and protest the publication of the book.
Elder Hinckley agreed to go, but he wondered if he was the right man for the job.
Elder Hinckley: Why are you sending me? I’m just a boy, and you are a distinguished man. Why don’t you go yourself?
Feeling a little frightened, he went to his room and prayed for strength. Then he set out.
Elder Hinckley: I wonder if this is how Moses felt when the Lord told him to go and see Pharaoh?
At the publishing house, Elder Hinckley received a cold welcome, but he was not discouraged.
Receptionist: Mr. Skeffington is too busy to see you.
Elder Hinckley: I have come five thousand miles, and I will be happy to wait.
When he was allowed to see Mr. Skeffington an hour later, Elder Hinckley did not complain loudly. Instead, he calmly pointed out the book’s errors and appealed to the publisher’s sense of fairness.
Elder Hinckley: I am sure that a high-principled man such as yourself would not wish to do injury to a people who have already suffered so much for their religion.
Mr. Skeffington: I will recall every copy of that book from the bookstores and add a statement that the Mormons have a respected and courageous history and that the book is fiction with no basis in fact.
Elder Merrill had sent the right man. Elder Hinckley later recalled, “I came to know that if we put our faith in the Lord and go forward in trust, He will open the way.”
If you’d like to learn more about President Hinckley, do the “President Gordon B. Hinckley Crossword” on page 23.