When Brigham Reneer (6) of Provo, Utah, sings with the Primary, “I Hope They Call Me on a Mission,”* he already knows, because of his special circumstances, what being called to serve is like. On February 4, 2001, he was called to be a stake youth missionary in the Provo Utah Oak Hills Stake. Even though most young men are called to serve full-time missions when they are nineteen years old, Brigham is already serving as a stake missionary.
His family lives near the Missionary Training Center in Provo, and every time they drive past it, he is fascinated by the groups of missionaries gathered outside. “I want to go on a mission,” he repeatedly told his parents, Julie and Randy Reneer. But they knew that his health would never allow him to serve a full-time mission.
The opportunity for him to serve came when Brother Wayne Arballo, the Reneers’ home teacher, was called to be a stake missionary. Brother Arballo said, “I was passing Brigham in the hall at church. I knelt down by him, and he tried to take my missionary tag. I let him take it, but it made me wonder if there was something more I could do for him.” Brother Arballo wanted to help Brigham fulfill his dreams of becoming a missionary. He talked to the stake mission presidency, and they spoke with the stake president. The result was that Brigham was called as a stake youth missionary.
Brigham received his call in a letter, much like the letters full-time missionaries receive. His grandfather bought him a black suit, his aunts and uncles gave him a set of scriptures, and the stake mission presidency ordered a missionary tag with his name on it. His missionary plaque hangs in the display case at the Oak Hills Second Ward. It includes his favorite scripture, Isaiah 11:6—“And a little child shall lead them”—and his favorite Primary song, “I’m Trying to Be like Jesus.”† He could not be set apart because he is not yet baptized, but he received a blessing from the first counselor in the stake presidency, Stephen Clark, to help him in his calling.
Being a stake missionary is a dream come true for Brigham. He and Brother Arballo, now his companion, visit Primaries and other organizations in the stake to share a message about Jesus Christ. After Brother Arballo bears his testimony, Brigham tells the story of the Savior’s life while his companion displays pictures. Brigham loves to bear his testimony that Jesus died on the cross and was resurrected. Even though Jesus’ crucifixion makes Brigham sad, he knows that the Savior lives and will return to earth. “Jesus helps people get better,” Brigham testifies. He knows that because of Jesus, we have nothing to fear.
Brigham is an example of faith and courage. When he was three years old, he became very ill with leukemia, a cancer of the blood, and had to endure a painful treatment for two years. As he did, doctors discovered that he also had another disease, one that he cannot be cured of. It causes great pain, but he doesn’t complain. In fact, after doctors gave him a very painful treatment for his cancer, Brigham told them “thank you” through his tears.
He teaches those around him to love life. His mother said, “If you ask him what his favorite color is, you never know what he’ll say. ‘Red!’ ‘Blue!’ ‘Green!’ It’s always different because he loves them all.” His list of favorite foods is endless, too; it includes pizza, chicken nuggets, and lemonade.
He tries to not let his illness slow him down. He enjoys camping and playing outside. He tries new things like skiing and other sports with enthusiasm. He also spends a lot of time playing with his best friend, his younger sister, Emily.
He especially likes music. In sacrament meeting, his voice can often be heard above all the others. The bishop noticed Brigham’s singing talent and gave him his own hymnbook to keep in his scripture holder.
For Brigham, every day is an adventure. He loves his friends, he enjoys learning at school and at church, and he enjoys meeting new people. Everyone he meets becomes his friend. President Thomas S. Monson invited Brother Arballo and the Reneer family to visit him in Salt Lake City. After allowing Brigham to sit in President Hinckley’s chair, and after singing and playing the piano for the group, President Monson promised him that the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles would pray for him. Now when he sees President Monson’s picture, Brigham exclaims, “There’s my friend!”
Though he doesn’t know when his mission on earth will be complete, he knows that Jesus Christ can heal us, even if sometimes we have to go to heaven and be healed there. His mother said, “We try to make the best of every day because Brigham has taught us that none of us knows how long we are here. Relationships are all that matter. We continually work on them to make them the best.”
Brigham’s strong, loving relationships with his family and with the Savior are examples to everyone who knows him. Whether or not he is fulfilling stake assignments, he is performing missionary work every day. He blesses lives with his love, and he reminds people how precious life is. Most importantly, Brigham touches hearts with his testimony of Jesus Christ, of His healing power, and of His love for all of us.