The Faith of a missionary son — Elder Craig Sudbury and his father’s conversion
This story was related by President Thomas S. Monson
Some years ago, Craig Sudbury and his mother came to my office prior to Craig’s departure for the Australia Melbourne Mission. Fred Sudbury, Craig’s father, was noticeably absent. Twenty-five years earlier, Craig’s mother had married Fred, who did not share her love for the Church and, indeed, was not a member.
Craig confided to me his deep and abiding love for his parents and his hope that somehow, in some way, his father would be touched by the Spirit and open his heart to the gospel of Jesus Christ. I prayed for inspiration concerning how such a desire might be fulfilled. Such inspiration came, and I said to Craig, “Serve the Lord with all your heart. Be obedient to your sacred calling. Each week write a letter to your parents; and on occasion, write to Dad personally and let him know that you love him, and tell him why you’re grateful to be his son.” He thanked me and, with his mother, departed from the office.
I was not to see Craig’s mother for over eighteen months. She came to the office and, in sentences punctuated by tears, said to me, “It has been almost two years since Craig departed for his mission. He has never failed in writing a letter to us each week. Recently, my husband, Fred, stood for the first time in a testimony meeting and said, ‘All of you know that I am not a member of the Church, but something has happened to me since Craig left for his mission. His letters have touched my soul. May I share one with you?” He then shared the following letter with the congregation:
“‘Dear Dad, Today we taught a choice family about the plan of salvation and blessings of exaltation in the celestial kingdom. For me it just wouldn’t be a celestial kingdom if you were not there. I’m grateful to be your son, Dad, and want you to know that I love you. Your missionary son, Craig”.
Fred then continued with his testimony. “After twenty-six years of marriage, I have made my decision to become a member of the Church, for I know the gospel message is the word of God. My son’s mission has moved me to action. I have made arrangements for my wife and me to meet Craig when he completes his mission. I will be his final baptism as a full-time missionary of the Lord.” He heard the message, he saw the light, he embraced the truth.
A young missionary with unwavering faith had participated with God in a modern-day miracle. His challenge to communicate with one whom he loved had been made more difficult by the barrier of the thousands of miles that lay between him and home. But the spirit of love spanned the vast expanse of the blue Pacific, and heart spoke to heart in divine dialogue. No missionary stood so tall as did Craig Sudbury when, in far-off Australia, he helped his father into water waist-deep and, raising his right arm to the square, repeated those sacred words: “Fred Sudbury, having been commissioned of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost”.
The prayer of a mother, the faith of a father, and the service of a son brought forth the miracle of God.
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