Elder F. Enzio Busche: To the Ends of the Earth


The early childhood of Elder F. Enzio Busche of the First Quorum of the Seventy, might well be described as idyllic. Born to loving parents at Dortmund, in western Germany, he grew up with his four sisters in the beautiful, spacious stone house his father designed and built. His caring and protective father had created an almost utopian environment for the family, complete with a few animals and enough land for the children to enjoy many happy hours outdoors. The books of Hans Christian Andersen and the Brothers Grimm were his primers, and their fairy tales and folk stories provided the imaginative settings for his play.

Then, in 1939—when Enzio was just nine—the first English bomb fell on Dortmund. The devastating war that followed fractured his peaceful world and destroyed his youthful dreams. His family fled for a time to eastern Germany, then to southern Germany, where they lived in two rooms.

At ten, Enzio became a member of the Hitler Youth organization, which all young men ages ten through eighteen were required to join. Then, in the last desperate months of the war, all of the Hitler Youth ages fourteen and over were drafted into the army of the Third Reich. Unexpectedly, fourteen-year-old Enzio was a soldier. After just a few weeks of panic and disaster in an army of desperation, he was captured and taken to an American prison camp. He fully expected to be shot there. To his surprise, however, he was not harmed and was eventually allowed to return home.

Enzio arrived in Dortmund in June 1945 to find a primitive shelter in the ruins of his home, which had been destroyed by American bombs. Fortunately for the Busche family, they had sheep to provide milk, and some land where they and several other families could grow potatoes. Ironically, one act of war helped the people of this suburb of Dortmund survive the ensuing months of near-starvation. Just before the war ended, the Americans had shot up a German supply train. When molasses came pouring out of the bullet-riddled cars, the townspeople filled every available pot and tub with the gooey, life-saving stuff, and it helped sustain them for two years.

By 1946, schools in Dortmund had reopened. But young Enzio’s remaining high school years began a period of sincere questioning and deep confusion for him. Before the war, his teachers had extolled Hitler’s doctrines as the cure for Germany’s ills; now they disavowed ever having taught them. What could this mean? Did adults not know right from wrong? As his disillusionment deepened, he became scornful and bitter and filled with the melancholy of a searcher.

After completing university study in Bonn and Freiburg, he began working in his father’s small printing business, now recovering from the war. Enzio learned some of the more technical aspects of printing earning the required craftmen’s licenses.

Still he wondered about the true meaning of life. Viewing Christianity from a historical perspective, he did not find it very appealing. But his study of philosophy and Eastern religions had also failed to provide an answer. How could he ever marry, he wondered, and bring children into a world so cruel and unpredictable? He kept searching for some value or meaning that could claim his allegiance.

Enzio had had a long-standing affection for the beautiful Jutta Baum, whom he first met when he was just seven. He had just completed an elaborate cathedral of building blocks when Jutta—the two-year-old daughter of family friends—walked into the room and destroyed his masterpiece with a single kick. Enzio was quick to assure her that it didn’t matter.

Enzio and Jutta were married in 1955, when he was twenty-five and she twenty. But marriage did not solve Enzio’s fundamental dilemma. In fact, it deepened his frustrations, for marriage was not at all what he had hoped it could be. In their early years together, they felt little sense of mutual purpose. They drifted, often feeling isolated from each other by conflicts and differences.

Remarkably, this once-bitter and unhappy, searching young man is now a believing servant of the Lord, wholly and humbly devoted to following the promptings of the Spirit in his life.

Several hints of Elder F. Enzio Busche’s history hang on the wall of his office in the Church Administration Building. One is a photograph of a man with a gentle smile—his father, who passed away in 1964, but whose example of honesty and righteousness still inspires him. Another photograph shows his beloved childhood home in Dortmund, restored after the war and still the home of Elder Busche’s mother. But the story of his conversion to the gospel of Jesus Christ is one that only Elder Busche himself can tell.

Describing the experience that began his transformation, he speaks softly, with a mixture of reverence and certitude. “I was confronted with death,” he explains. In fact, he was so ill with a liver ailment that the doctors had turned off life support systems and his family could hardly bear to visit him and see him suffer.

On the day that everyone expected that he would surely die, he lay alone, in great pain, close to the other world. Unexpectedly, he was confronted with experiences he now calls “spiritual manifestations.” He saw himself as if from outside his own body: a man in his sins—cynical, unaware, ungrateful, and uncommitted. He felt unclean and unprepared to enter the next world. “I became painfully aware that I could not enter the next world without someone to speak for me, help me, and cleanse me. I sensed the need for a Redeemer.”

He struggled with this feeling for several days, feeling a fervent desire to start anew, to be clean, to have an opportunity to live differently. Then he had a sacred experience that he finds impossible to describe adequately with words. A voice of unmistakable authority addressed him: “If you can pray now, you will recover.” Enzio Busche realized in shock that this was a voice from a real world, whose power and authority dwarfed all his previous mortal experiences. He felt that he was being asked to do more than merely recite the Lord’s Prayer, the only form of prayer he knew. In sober sincerity he was able to utter three words: Dein Wille geschehe (“Thy will be done”). In the twinkling of an eye, his dark and fearful feelings were replaced with a sudden rush of joy and peace. “I know now that I was experiencing what Alma the Younger described when his sins were forgiven,” he explains.

He also received an assurance that he would totally recover.

Lying in his hospital bed, Enzio Busche made three commitments which have motivated his actions ever since. First, he committed to live differently than he ever had, to live in a state of constant awareness of the power of the other real world. Second, he made a commitment to never deny the experience and to always testify of the power he had felt. Third, he committed himself to go to the ends of the earth, if necessary, to find the source of this power and to become a disciple of it.

“I came to an awareness of a reality beyond my day-to-day life. This awareness became more painful and more real than anything I had ever felt before. I learned then, and have never forgotten, that the philosophies of this world and the religions I had encountered thus far had one common deficiency: None of them conveyed the awareness that a man must be clean before he can enter into his rest. I became painfully aware that to become truly clean, we must confront ourselves with the power of the Almighty God, which teaches us to take responsibility for every word we speak and every procrastinating excuse, for all our lightmindedness, prejudice, and slothfulness. We learn that we have to change and repent throughout our lives and that our only and great hope in helping us to become clean still remains with our Redeemer, our Advocate, our Savior.”

Elder Busche’s search for the source of this power began in the Catholic hospital where he lay recovering for five months. He studied the crucifix on the wall of his hospital room. In pursuit of his commitment to find the author of his experience, he read the Bible from the first page of Genesis to the last page of Revelation, only stopping to eat and sleep. This brought him a powerful awareness of the truthfulness of the Bible and a testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ.

He also watched the nun who was the head nurse in his hospital ward. “She was probably the most righteous person I had ever met,” he recalls. “She would do the dirtiest, most difficult work with singing in her eyes—sixteen hours a day, seven days a week. She was so loving and joyful that it seemed impossible not to be healed in her presence.”

One day he asked her whether the Catholic church was the church of Jesus Christ. “She seemed to fight within herself for a very long time,” he recalls. “Finally, she replied in a peaceful, dignified voice, ‘No. You are looking for the church of the living Christ, not a church of dead traditions.’”

Upon his release from the hospital, Enzio immediately sought out his Lutheran minister, recounted his conversion, and declared his desire to follow Christ. But after a period of attending every possible meeting—and finding some satisfaction in the dignity and ceremony of the services—Enzio was troubled by doctrines and practices he could not understand. Why, for example, did infants need to be baptized? And why had ministers blessed the weapons of the war? The ministers and presbyters of the church could give him no sound doctrine—just conflicting opinions.

One evening Enzio and Jutta knelt in despair to tell the Lord of their situation. By now Enzio could form his own prayers, “I told the Lord we wanted to find his church,” Elder Busche recalls. “I knew that the earlier followers of Christ had been persecuted, so I told the Lord that it didn’t matter if his was an obscure church, even a ridiculed church.” After that prayer, the overwhelming peace Enzio had felt in the hospital returned.

Several weeks later, two Latter-day Saint missionaries stood on the Busches’ doorstep. At first, Enzio Busche was skeptical of their “strange” message, but he was always impressed with their sincerity and righteousness. His two years of investigation were accompanied by dreams and spiritual experiences that had the same sacred quality and authority that he had felt in the hospital. At last, he had to admit that the Spirit truly was in the message of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, although he still feared breaking with his social life and the traditions of his family.

When he was finally ready for baptism, he asked his wife to investigate the gospel. Jutta Busche had long before felt the Spirit in the message of the missionaries, though she had not been involved in the sometimes long discussions. After just three evenings of hearing them teach her the gospel principles—to her husband’s astonishment—she too had a testimony. Both were baptized on 19 January 1958 in a public swimming pool in Dortmund.

Their first tiny branch, which met in an old school building in the dirtiest area of Dortmund, was made up mostly of elderly people whose children had gone to America. “The Lord was no stranger to poverty and humble circumstances,” says Elder Busche, “so I felt in good company there.” His first calling was as branch secretary. Later he served as elders quorum president and a teacher in both the MIA and the Sunday School.

By this time, Enzio Busche was a respected and influential man in his native city and country. In 1955 he had become co-owner with his father of Busche Printing Company, when it was still relatively small. By the time he became chief executive officer in 1963, it was well on its way to becoming one of the largest offset printing and publishing companies in West Germany, with a number of subsidiaries and partnerships.

Brother Busche had felt early in his business life that he could not successfully manage a company in such a competitive market without using the creativity and involvement of every person in the organization. His experience with Church leadership had shown him an alternative to the authoritarian model of traditional management. After many prayers he instituted a form of participatory management, a radical shift from the usual style. He made a rule that everyone involved must agree before any major decision was made. The resulting maturity of his employees helped his company through difficult times and changes to become one of the most dynamic and successful in its field.

Whether as president of an elders quorum or a branch, or in any other of his many callings, Enzio Busche has always felt grateful to be allowed to serve the Lord. “When we are converted, we do the Lord’s work with great joy in our hearts, instead of seeing it as a burden,” he explains. “If we are home teaching with no joy, with no gratitude that He allows us to do something to build His kingdom, we had better repent. Being allowed to serve is a privilege.”

President Stephen C. Richards, whom Brother Busche served as a counselor in the Central German Mission, remembers that his counselor helped secure the plot of ground for the Dortmund chapel at a time when the Church faced community opposition in buying land. Enzio Busche also helped countless Church members secure their own testimonies. The Busche home, frequently the site of cottage meetings, was always open to the missionaries, and the Busches supported several young men on missions. “There is a man whom the Lord loves,” says President Richards fondly. “He will do anything the Lord asks, with never a question.”

Enzio Busche’s original commitment to go to the ends of the earth in pursuit of truth met its test in 1977, while President Spencer W. Kimball was touring Poland and East Germany. Then a regional representative to the Quorum of the Twelve, Brother Busche served as translator for President Kimball at a meeting in Berlin, then met afterwards with Church leaders for refreshments in the Relief Society room. D. Arthur Haycock, the president’s personal secretary, asked Brother Busche to take an empty chair next to President Kimball. Because an educated German would never seek the company of a dignitary unless invited by that dignitary, Brother Busche ignored the suggestion. When Brother Busche declined a second time, Brother Haycock asked him more pointedly if he would please be so kind as to take the vacant seat. After exchanging greetings, President Kimball invited Brother Busche to join him in another room, where he extended the call to serve as a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy.

Elder Busche’s first assignment as a General Authority was to serve as president of the Germany Munich Mission. Then, in 1980, he and his family (except for oldest son Markus, engaged to be married and living in Germany) were called to move to Utah.

Looking back, Elder Busche realizes that he has been asked to do all that he told the Lord he would be willing to do as he lay in that hospital bed. He was asked to leave his family, his language, his inherited culture, and his company—all that he had built, all that was familiar to him. He smiles. “I was even asked to go to the ends of the earth, if you consider northern Alaska to be the ends of the earth.” One of his current assignments is counselor in the North American Northwest Area Presidency, an area that includes the North Pole.

Elder Busche explains how he has overcome his fear of the challenging assignments he has accepted during his years in the Church. “The adversary’s greatest power is to give us fear, to tell us that what the Lord requires will be too uncomfortable, too impossible, to do. But as we obey, the Lord will fill us with love and inexpressible joy. Until we subdue ourselves to the Lord, we can only experience frustration and pain. When we do subdue ourselves to his will, we are filled with peace and dignity in all circumstances, no matter how challenging. This, to me, is the greatest victory we can achieve.”

Those who know him best—his wife and four children—agree that one of Enzio Busche’s most extraordinary achievements is his sensitivity as a husband and father. “What the missionaries brought us,” says Sister Busche, “has totally changed our lives. It has really been a blessing for us, for our marriage and our family.”

Sister Busche says that her husband has an unusual ability to respond to people, especially to his children. “The most important thing is that he has a good feeling for people—that he can love them and understand them and help them.” She tells of a time when one son faced the difficult choice of marriage or a mission. The Busches were in the mission home in Munich at the time, and their son and his girlfriend came to visit them. Elder Busche told his son, “We love you, and you are totally free. If you feel you should marry, we will still love you. But before you decide, go in your room and ask Heavenly Father.” The son came from his room with tears in his eyes and the commitment that he would go on a mission.

Elder Busche explains that he and his wife had seen that the traditional way of raising children in Germany caused a tremendous rift between generations. “We did not want to have children who mocked their parents, who obeyed just because their parents fed them. We did not want to force our children to go to church and have them rebel against us.”

Elder Busche feels it was the Spirit that taught them to regard their children, from their earliest years, as equals. Even when the children were three or four years old, the Busches tried to respect their opinions. “We were surprised and touched by how much we could learn from them,” says Elder Busche. “When children are raised in an unintimidating environment, they are so pure and innocent, so loving and sensitive that it is embarrassing to adults.”

Daughter Maja (Mrs. Paul Wensel) remembers that her father’s approach to discipline was always to reason with her, never to threaten. He would often say, “Jesus would do something different.”

“Once when I broke a window, he came out and calmly said, ‘You’ve done something wrong, and you need to do something so that you can understand that you can’t do this.’ Then he asked what kind of penalty I thought would be fair. As a result, I never felt rebellious.” In fact, the Busches found that the children would usually assign themselves stricter penalties than their parents would have.

The youngest son, Daniel, who returned last year from a mission in Argentina, describes his father as a loving teacher. “One night we had won a baseball game, and I didn’t get home until two in the morning. As I drove up and saw Dad waiting for me outside, I was really scared. I was thinking up all kinds of excuses. But instead of accusing me, he said, ‘I’m glad you’re home. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.’ I knew I had done wrong, but I also knew that he was concerned about me and wanted to help me.”

The children felt a good atmosphere in the home partly because of their parents’ love for classical music. Sister Busche comes from a family of musicians and loves the music of Bach and Rachmaninoff. Elder and Sister Busche always felt that beautiful music would foster a good spirit in their home. Maja says this helped her keep her mind clean and made the excesses of the world a clear contrast.

Matthias (married to Patricia Clay) recalls his father as a great teacher—always prepared with a lesson for family home evening—but also as a great companion. Elder Busche is an active man whose interests include skiing, running, hiking, and sailing. “Some of the experiences we had sailing together on the Baltic Sea—critical moments when we were in danger—brought us really close. Those are times I’ll never forget,” says Matthias. Some of his favorite times have been the relaxed, playful moments, but also the long, thoughtful talks while driving to and from church meetings.

He is a family man, a businessman, and a church leader. But the true vocation of Elder F. Enzio Busche has been a tireless search for the truth. In the gospel of Jesus Christ he has found the answers to his fundamental questions, but also a challenge to devote his life to the commitments he has made. “Many members of the Church are starving spiritually. We must feed the spiritual part of our being by learning to distinguish and search for the Spirit in all matters of our daily lives. Life is not meant to be easy, but when we are filled with the Spirit that Heavenly Father gives us when we live according to our covenants, we will be full of joy no matter what happens. We will have happy marriages, good relationships between parents and children, and an ability to live with peace and dignity.”

For Elder F. Enzio Busche, the end of the search has become an eternal beginning.

[photos] Elder Busche, a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy since 1977, now serves in the North America Northwest Area Presidency. (Inset) Eight-year-old Enzio on the patio of his family home in Dortmund, Germany.

[photo] Enzio, age fifteen, after his release from a prison camp at the close of World War II.

[photo] Elder Busche’s family home in Dortmund, rebuilt after being destroyed during World War II bombing raids.

[photo] Enzio Busche in 1954 at the beginning of his successful business career in the Busche Printing Company.

[photo] The official engagement picture of Enzio Busche and Jutta Baum, 1954.

[photo] Children from the local church parish visited Enzio Busche at Christmastime in 1955 while he was in hospital recovering from a serious illness.

[photo] Elder and Sister Busche, seated, with some members of their family. From left, son Daniel, daughter-in-law Patricia Clay Busche, son Matthias, daughter Maja Busche Wensel, and her baby son Philip Arthur Wensel held by her husband Paul Wensel.