STIMULATOR message for the week of November 30, 1971
Message from President Eugene C. Ludwig, dated November 30, 1971.
Dear Fellow Missionaries:
This week I would share with you a faith-promoting experience from the life of John Taylor, future president of the church. At the time of this experience, Elder Taylor was 29 years of age and had been a member of the church for 1 year and 3 months. Elder Taylor was serving a mission, preaching the gospel in Ohio. He came to a small village where a few members of the church resided. They soon arranged for Elder Taylor to preach a sermon to the citizens of their village. Shortly before the meeting was to begin, some of the brethren came running to the house where Elder Taylor was staying, and excitedly proclaimed that the meeting must be cancelled. They had become aware that a number of evil men were preparing to tar and feather Elder Taylor if he attempted to preach. They insisted that Elder Taylor cancel his sermon, as they did not feel that they could protect him from the ruffians. At this point in the story, all of us should ask ourselves, “What would I have done in that same situation?” Elder Taylor reflected for a moment and said, “I have made up my mind to preach. You are welcome to come with me if you choose; if not, I will go alone.” He went. Nearly the entire village was assembled, anticipating a tarring and feathering. Elder Taylor began his remarks by stating that he was a citizen of Canada, a land under the oppressive rule of a monarch. He said, “I am grateful to be on American soil, among citizens whose fathers fought for and died for the right to govern themselves and worship God according to the dictates of their own will, both sacred human rights guaranteed by an inspired constitution. I see in this congregation the sons and daughters of these noble men who conquered nobly, and bequeathed to their posterity the enjoyment of political and religious freedom. But, ladies and gentlemen, I have been informed that you propose to tar and feather me tonight because of my religious opinions. Is this the freedom you inherited from your fathers? Is this the liberty they purchased with their blood? If so, you now have a victim, and we will have, tonight, an offering to your goddess of liberty.” With that he tore open his jacket and his vest, and said, “Gentlemen, come on then with your tar and feathers, your victim is ready, and may your venerable fathers gaze down with disgust upon their degenerate sons!” No one moved, no one spoke. John Taylor stood erect and dignified, calm but defiant, the master of the situation. Seeing no one willing to come forward, he buttoned his vest and jacket, and proceeded to preach the gospel of the Lord for over three hours, uninterrupted. After the meeting, the leading citizens of the community came forward and expressed their great pleasure in what they had heard him preach. With that inspiring experience as a backdrop, I would challenge all of us to catch the wave, open our mouths, rescue the lost, hasten the work! Elder Taylor’s remarkable example gives us several wonderful keys to use as we catch, ask, open, rescue, and hasten. First, Elder Taylor didn’t let the “wave” pass him by. He caught it. When called, he responded. No inconveniences, trials, or difficulties stood in his way. He squared himself to the challenge and moved forward. Second, he was fearless in his discipleship. No threats or insults or dangers would deter him. He knew he was a disciple of Christ, he knew that the Lord was on his right hand and on his left, that angels were round about him to bear him up, and that the spirit was in his heart. Third, he opened his mouth. He opened his mouth even when he knew that his words perhaps would not be well received. He knew that the Lord would give him in the very moment the words and thoughts that he needed, and that the spirit would carry his words into the hearts of those prepared to receive them, regardless of circumstances or situations. Fourth, he knew the doctrine. Despite his few months as a member of the church, he had diligently studied, searched, and treasured up the words of eternal life, and could discuss and present them with the tongues of angels, even to a hostile crowd. That ability required determination, persistence, and a continual reliance of the spirit of the Lord. And lastly, it is obvious that when Elder Taylor taught with power and authority of God. This was also said of the sons of Mosiah. And how had these sons and Elder Taylor obtained this power and authority. As the scripture states, they had waxed strong in the knowledge of the truth, they had searched the scriptures diligently, they had given themselves to much prayer, they had fasted, they exercised prophecy and revelation when appropriate, and they served until released.
Sister Ludwig and I love you and appreciate the sincere efforts you are making. God bless you.
President Eugene C. Ludwig
“The most important thought that ever occupied my mind was that of my individual responsibility to God.”