“I’ll Go Serve,” New Era, April 2016, 24–25
When Elder Ronald A. Rasband was 19, he couldn’t wait to serve a mission. Hoping to go where his father and brother had served, he excitedly opened his mission call as soon as it arrived.
“I thought I was going to Germany,” he recalls.
But he wasn’t. Instead, he had been called to the Eastern States Mission, headquartered in New York City, USA.
Disappointed, he went downstairs to his bedroom to see if he could gain a testimony of his call. He knelt by his bed, said a prayer, and randomly opened his scriptures to section 100 of the Doctrine and Covenants.
“Behold, and lo,” he read, “I have much people in this place, in the regions round about; and an effectual door shall be opened in the regions round about in this eastern land.
“Therefore, I, the Lord, have suffered you to come unto this place; for thus it was expedient in me for the salvation of souls” (D&C 100:3–4; emphasis added).
Immediately, the Holy Ghost confirmed that his mission call was no mistake.
“I knew then,” Elder Rasband recalls. “I quickly changed my focus from being hugely disappointed to the message I had received from the Lord: ‘Germany is not where I’ve called you. I’ve called you to the eastern land. Go there and open your mouth, and I’ll give you success.’”
That’s just what happened.
“The Lord blessed me with many miraculous, faith-promoting experiences,” he says. “My mission was huge for my spiritual life.”
That spiritual experience Elder Rasband had at home was the first of many such experiences he has had over the years. And his mission to the Eastern States was the first of many Church callings that would take him places he never expected to go.
With each calling—as a teacher, bishop, stake high councilor, mission president, member of the Seventy, and now as an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ—Elder Rasband has accepted the Lord’s will and relied on His Spirit as he has served God’s children.
Elder Rasband was born February 6, 1951, in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA. His childhood centered on Sunday meetings, Church sports, Scouting, odd jobs, and family. His mother taught him to love the scriptures while his father taught him the virtues of hard work. As a young man, Ron had a natural ability to lead and delegate. Those abilities proved essential when he became a father, a Church leader, and the president of a large chemical corporation.
When Ron married his wife, Melanie, in the Salt Lake Temple on September 4, 1973, they decided to always put the Lord first in their marriage and family. That commitment was tested in 1996. Ron was in the middle of a successful career when he was called to return to New York—this time as president of the New York New York North Mission. Remembering the lesson he had learned as a young man, he immediately quit his job to accept the call.
“You want me to go serve,” he said to Heavenly Father, “then I’ll go serve.”
As a mission president, he remembered another lesson—one he had learned from his professional experience: “People are more important than anything else.”1
Elder Rasband and his wife returned to Utah in 1999 but were home for less than a year when he was called as a General Authority Seventy. As a member of the Seventy, he served as a counselor in the Europe Central Area Presidency, helping to oversee the work in 39 nations. He also supervised several areas in the United States and served as Executive Director of the Temple Department and as Senior President of the Seventy.
When President Thomas S. Monson called Elder Rasband to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in October 2015, he assured him, “This calling comes from the Lord Jesus Christ.”2
Elder Rasband was overwhelmed and humbled, but he accepted the Lord’s will. And though he said he has much to learn as an Apostle, there’s one aspect of his new calling he can already magnify: “I can bear testimony ‘of the name of Christ in all the world’ (D&C 107:23). He lives! I bear that testimony to you with all the power and efficacy of my new assignment.”3