The Courage to Ask

I collected more than fast offerings—I collected Brother Nichols himself.

I hated collecting fast offerings. The very idea of doing it made me shiver. Collecting fast offerings was a chore and one I thought was a waste of time, though I never really understood why I had to do it. I didn’t even know what fast offerings were used for.

As a deacon in my ward, I had the “route” which took me by my house and up an adjoining street, full of various houses. There was one home I always noticed. In this house resided a man I knew only as Brother Nichols. As a Blazer in Primary, I was once assigned to visit his house along with the rest of my group to bring him cookies and talk. But other than that, I never saw him.

Brother Nichols was an older fellow, a widower whose wife had died a couple of years earlier, who now lived in secrecy. His yard had decayed, and his home seemed to have died as well. The inside was filled with old black-and-white photographs of him and his wife. Brother Nichols had been a skier in Utah for many years, and he had plenty of what I considered boring stories to tell.

I never saw him at church, and every time I came to his house during my fast offering route, I would either pass his house completely or ring the bell once and hope he didn’t answer.

One Sunday, I felt particularly good. I decided that I would visit every house I was assigned to visit so that everyone would have a chance to donate fast offerings—even Brother Nichols.

When I got to Brother Nichols’s home, I rang the doorbell. No response. I tried at least three or four times, but nobody answered. As I started to walk away, I heard the door open. There was Brother Nichols.

I greeted him with a warm smile and began an attempt to converse with him.

“Hello, Brother Nichols. I’m here to collect fast offerings.”

“Why, hello young man,” he responded. “Nice of you to stop by.”

I wondered if he knew I had skipped his house on occasion and not cared to see if he was home. I decided that I would repent and become friends with him.

Brother Nichols placed a meager amount of money in the envelope, and I thanked him, giving him a smile and telling him to have a nice day.

This continued for two more months. During each visit with him, the conversations were longer, and I soon felt I could ask him to come to church with no trouble.

“Brother Nichols, you know, I haven’t ever seen you at church.”

“Ah, well, I haven’t ever had the interest …”

“Brother Nichols,” I interrupted, “please come once or you’ll regret it.”

He agreed, and sure enough, the following week, Brother Nichols came to church. He was smiling and he looked great. I thanked him for coming, and he thanked me for the invitation. I could tell by the look in his eyes that the Spirit was with him and his warm hand-shake filled me with the Holy Ghost as well. Throughout the entire meeting he smiled, and the messages from the speakers were fantastic. I was proud that I had brought this man to church, and I knew God was proud of me.

I never knew why I felt so good until a few days later when I found out that Brother Nichols had died. He was now with his wife and with the truth of the gospel which he had experienced.

I felt the Spirit strongly for the next few weeks, and I knew what it meant to be a deacon, to hold the Aaronic Priesthood and act in the name of the Lord. I also learned to not treat the responsibility of collecting fast offerings as a burden. Most importantly, I learned a bit more about the power of the truth of the gospel.

[illustration] Illustrated by Roger Motzkus