“Elder Dale G. Renlund,” Liahona, November 2015, 137
After the initial surprise of being called to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Elder Dale G. Renlund knelt in prayer with his wife, Ruth, seeking the witness that “God directed this course.”
Elder Renlund has sought that direction many times—as a General Authority Seventy, as a cardiologist, and as a husband and father. While he worked as a medical resident in training in Maryland, USA, for example, his wife developed ovarian cancer. Their daughter, Ashley, was just 16 months old. During those difficult days, Elder Renlund’s feeling of closeness to the Lord was restored when Ruth thanked the Lord in prayer for their temple sealing.
Elder Renlund spent his career as a cardiologist, treating patients with heart failure. He saw many patients die. But after a patient named Chad died, the emotional distance he maintained in times of crisis as a physician shattered when Chad’s parents joined him in the emergency room. In that moment he saw Chad through their eyes.
Of this experience, Elder Renlund said, “I now realize that in the Church, to effectively serve others we must see them through a parent’s eyes, through Heavenly Father’s eyes. Only then can we begin to comprehend the true worth of a soul” (page 94).
Elder Renlund’s childhood and Church service have also helped prepare him to see others through the Lord’s eyes and understand the Church’s diverse membership.
Dale Renlund was born on November 13, 1952, to Swedish immigrants who came to Utah to be sealed in the temple. When Dale was a boy, the family moved to Finland and then back to Sweden. He returned to Utah with his family three years later. At age 19 he was called to serve a full-time mission in Sweden.
In 2009 Elder Renlund was called to serve as a General Authority Seventy. His first assignment was in the Africa Southeast Area Presidency. Elder Renlund ended his career as a physician and professor, but his wife, he says, “made the greater sacrifice.” Ruth was the president of her law firm when Elder Renlund was called and left her work as well. But ever since they married in 1977, he says, she has always been “all in” and a source of great strength to him.
While in Africa, Elder and Sister Renlund were “tutored by the Saints about what really matters.” Once, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Elder Renlund asked the members what their challenges were. He recalls that after some prodding, “an older gentleman stood up and said, ‘Elder Renlund, how can we have challenges? We have the gospel of Jesus Christ.’” Elder Renlund reflects: “My wife and I want to be like those Kananga Saints. … They look like they have nothing, but they have everything.”
In closing his first talk as an Apostle, Elder Renlund testified: “With all my heart I want to be a true follower of Jesus Christ. I love Him. I adore Him. I witness of His living reality. I witness that He is the Anointed One, the Messiah” (page 94).