My beloved brothers and sisters, this is indeed a challenge and an opportunity, a privilege that I had not anticipated and yet one of those great opportunities to do that which I have been called to do for the past five years—and that is to bear witness of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
These five years have been filled with experiences that have further taught me what I had learned in the previous forty years while serving in various capacities of leadership in the Church—and that is that God does hear and answer prayer, that there is power in the priesthood, and that by that power and authority to act in his name great things happen in the lives of people.
I have in mind today a blessing given to someone precious and close to me who was told by her physicians that the child she was to bear would unquestionably have Down’s syndrome; an abortion was recommended. She refused, and in the next few weeks calls from the hospital and others came encouraging that the little fetus be aborted. Finally, in desperation, she called her doctor and said, “Get those people off my back. This little child will have a right to life regardless of its condition.” She had been given a priesthood blessing by her father and had been promised that the little child would be normal and healthy. When the little child involved was born, so it was. Today she is an unusually beautiful, bright, charming child.
I have thought, how many times in her life she would have had cause to reflect had she followed that counsel which was contrary to that given her by her father.
I recall that not too long ago I became acquainted with a precious young woman named Sharon living in Brisbane, Australia. She had cystic fibrosis and had in the last few years spent nearly as much time in the hospital as she had in her home. She was downcast and desperate, feeling that God had forgotten her and that there was no chance for her. But a priesthood blessing told her to trust in the Lord with all of her heart and lean not to her own understanding and promised that He would guide and direct her. And then came the words that somewhat frightened him who was pronouncing the blessing: “Sharon, there will come in your lifetime medical advances which will correct the problem and alleviate the challenges that you are facing.”
Within thirty days, in Melbourne, Australia, there came a medical announcement of a new drug, experimental in nature, that showed promise in combating cystic fibrosis. Sharon applied for treatment, and it has been successful. Today, she spends very little time in the hospital; the rest of her time is spent preparing for a career.
My brothers and sisters, these are only two instances of times I have seen God’s power at work. I want you to know that my testimony came when I was a little boy at the feet of my parents. I loved my parents. They taught me in the way of truth and righteousness. I was taught the story of the Restoration, which I believed with all of my heart because I believed my parents.
In the forty-sixth section of the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord says: “To some it is given by the Holy Ghost to know that Jesus is the Son of God. … To others it is given to believe on their words.” (D&C 46:13–14.) I was one of those who believed on my parents’ words. To me, the teachings of the First Vision, the visits of Moroni and others were as real as if they had been personal experiences of my own. I have never had a day in my life that I can remember when I haven’t known these things are true.
I pay tribute this day to my wife of some fifty years who has been at my side, encouraging, sustaining, supporting, and enduring when the going was tough. I want her and my children to know that I love her and them with all of my heart.
In the past two or three weeks, I have greeted most of my grandchildren, and I have shaken their hands and looked into their eyes and have said, “Keep the faith, my child. It’s true.” Almost invariably there has come the response, “I will, Grandpa, I will.”
Their words, “Yes, Grandpa, I will,” have caused me to reflect. My greatest desire is to continue faithful as an example to my family. I trust that one day the response will be, “Yes, Grandpa, I have.”
I bear you my witness that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. Ezra Taft Benson is a prophet of God. I leave that testimony with you in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.