The third week of every month we hold a special home evening for a large group of ward members who come to my home. But one night was a particularly memorable one for everyone involved.
Our group of “regulars” consists of widows, widowers, recent converts, new move-ins, and others. We have something to eat, good conversation, and what we have come to call our “sharing time”—when one or two people tell the rest of us about their lives and let us get to know them better.
We had all been particularly eager to get to know one older brother and his newly converted wife and wanted to include them in our family home evenings. But although they always came to church, it seemed they could never come to our monthly gathering. As a result, I was really happy one week when they said they would join us.
Then, the evening before our gathering, this brother telephoned. My heart sank when I heard his voice, and I teasingly said, “Don’t tell me you are going to turn us down again and not come!” Laughingly he responded, “Wait until you hear why we can’t make it this time. The bishop called me this afternoon and said I’ve been cleared for rebaptism.”
I had always assumed that he was a member in full fellowship in the Church and was thrilled to hear the news. He continued to tell me that the wait had been long and painful for him. “You just can’t imagine what this means to me,” he said. “I want to be baptized immediately. The ceremony is scheduled for tomorrow.” I expressed disappointment that none of us could attend because of our planned home evening, but wished him well.
But when the next evening arrived, a telephone call with the frantic voice of our bishop’s wife on the other end interrupted our evening’s preparations. The bishop, a doctor, had been called to the hospital for an emergency, she explained. To make matters worse, the ward mission leader had been called out of town on business. The brother to be baptized was waiting at the chapel with a few members of his family.
While the bishop’s wife tried to contact the stake president, my husband explained to our home evening group, “No one is at the chapel but the man’s family,” he said. “Would you all be willing to go to the chapel and support this brother in this important event of his life?”
His words filled our hearts with the Spirit. We quickly drove to the chapel to meet a worried stake president. As we took our seats, a strong spirit filled the room, so much so that tears began filling everyone’s eyes. When the brother to be baptized walked out and saw all of the tearful, smiling faces—full of support and love for him—he whispered, “I just knew everything was going to turn out all right and that you were all going to be here.”
What followed was a powerful, beautiful meeting I’m sure none of us will ever forget. When it was over, we congratulated our newly baptized brother and said, “We love you.” He hugged us, weeping openly. We returned to our home evening and enjoyed a profoundly spiritual night together, bearing testimonies of baptism, repentance, and the wonders of the gospel.