Herschel N. Pedersen
xxx North xxx East
xxxxxxxxxxxx, Utah xxxxx
January 5, 1975
President Ralph Bradley
xxxx xxxxxx xxxxxx
xxxxxxxxxxxxxx, Utah xxxxx
Dear President Bradley:
As I attempt to set forth those things which have inspired me, motivated me, and through which God has blessed me, I want you to know that I have not done these things of myself; it has been through the power of the priesthood, the Holy Spirit, and the magnification of the Lord. I do not wish to take credit for any accomplishment or success that may have been given me. This is the work of the Lord and without His guidance; I could do none of the things which have been done.
Approximately 18 years ago, I had a strong desire to know more concerning the workings of the Lord, how the priesthood worked, what it meant to be inspired, and how the atonement applied in my life.
There were many questions and the answers seemd to be elusive. I had not studied the scriptures for several years. After my mission and military service, I attended BYU. This brought about a life filled with study, playing ball, and in trying to excel in the world. This caused some loss of knowledge from the mission field. One day, while in a Sunday School class, the teacher asked a simple question, and I had memorized a scripture that answered the question. However, I could not recall the scripture. I went home and tried to find the forgotten scripture, but was unsuccessful. This brought me to a realization that I had retrogressed, and I was embarrassed. Not because of the question asked by the teacher, but because of my lack of knowledge. I resolved to not have a repeat of the same situation.
I began to study with fervor. I found that I had forgotten most of the scriptures that I had remembered on the mission. I would read, but I remembered nothing of what I had read. I felt that I was losing my mind. I had graduated with honors and now I was having difficulty reading and comprehending. This brought about a contrition and attitude of humility. I was greatly concerned.
I was desirous of being able to relive the experiences of the mission field--to be inspired, associate with the Spirit. As I was reading the Book of Mormon, I read a passage of scripture (Moroni, Chapter 7). I came to the vivid realization that I was weak. I had no faith, no hope, and no charity. I felt as though I was a fallen man. I decided to make a list of all my sins and wrong doings. This, I did in a cheap notebook. Everyday I read the list with a determination to overcome my weaknesses. It was extremely difficult.
After a few weeks, I realized that I had made some progress and I felt that there was some improvement. I worked on ten weaknesses or sins at a time. Finally, I felt I had overcome a few of the weaknesses and crossed them off the list, then added others to the list so that ten were always on the list. After a year or two, I felt that I had really progressed and was reading the Doctrine and Covenants (D&C 66:33), when I was impressed more than I had been at any other time. The phrase read, "You are clean, but not all; repent, therefore, of those things which are not pleasing in my sight, saith the Lord, for the Lord will show them unto you." I had felt that I had repented of the majority of my sins and weaknesses, but this was new. It did not mention sin; only those things which were not pleasing in the sight of the Lord. Then, it said the Lord would make them known unto me. I spent several days thinking about the verse and wondering about all the things I was doing that might displease the Lord. My mind was enlightened. I took a pencil and paper out of my pocket and many things came to my mind with which the Lord was displeased. These were not sins, but things the Lord would have me do differently. This brought another stage of development because I had to concentrate more than ever to do these things as the Lord would have me do them. I learned then that habits begin as cobwebs and once formed, they are as chins. People plan their lives too rigidly. It is what we want to do and we like an orderly, regulated life, but the Lord interjects things in our lives to make us change.
As I continued to study, I realized where I stood with the Lord, and it was not pleasing. I found new doctrine and memorized scriptures, especially the ones that were being impressed upon my mind. They all seemed to consist of faith, repentance and the Holy Ghost. I learned some new points of doctrine and became obsessed with a desire to know more. I started to fast every Sunday and attend the temple weekly; then I had several fasts of two days, or even three days. I spent the major portion of my available time studying. I read the standard works for times annually. As I labored, I served in different positions in the church, and had no success other than a few activated Elders.
I read many things and began to make a collection of some talks and materials that particularly interested me. I was becoming known as a bigoted religious fanatic. My wife even thought I was going too far with the religious kick. I began to talk to people about doctrine. I asked questions, then I realized that I was all alone in my fervor to study, fast, pray, etc. At a stake meeting, I was given the opportunity to ask a question. The question was one on a point of doctrine that I had become deeply concerned about. I asked the question, and several High Councilmen and my Bishop suggested that I forget it; that I was only going to be on the road to apostasy. Some of them became concerned, feeling that I had gotten off the beaten path. Some called my wife, and we talked about several things. I was confused once again. I thought I had been making such fine progress, but now some of my fine leaders thought I was on the road to apostasy. This really concerned me, and I went through a most agonizing period of depression and despondency, feeling that I was off the track.
This brought forth a unique experience. The details are too lengthy; however, I will briefly relate it. A man hired on at Geneva who was 47 years of age, he was married and had three children, and was a freshman at BYU. On shift, this man told me that the Lord had sent him to talk to me. My reply was, "The Lord does not send anyone to talk to the likes of me." A series of events took place that seemed coincidental at first, but later proved to be inspired. We finally had a little talk, and he was the first man that believed or had a knowledge of the things which I had come to believe from studying the scriptures. I told him that those things were not welcomed to be taught or questions asked concerning them, and that those asking questions about the subject were thought to be on the road to apostasy. He agreed. We became fast friends. One night, while visiting at his home, he told me his story. It was not like mine; however, he had an experience similar to mine. His Stake President was going to excommunicate him because he was openly teaching those things to the displeasure of the stake leaders. He eventually ended up in the office of Joseph Fielding Smith, who questioned him on the doctrine. He showed my wife and me a letter that had been written to his Stake President, his Bishop, and to himself by Joseph Fielding Smith. It stated that the doctrine was correct, that it was not to be taught openly, and that when people began to become spiritual, they would also understand. This gave no renewed hope.
I read and believed every scripture. I found great hope and desire. I became concerned about my own welfare. The scriptures said that "Signs will follow them that believed." Another scripture said, "It is a wicked and an adulterous generation that seeks for signs." Contradicting, I thought. The scriptures said, "We were to heal the sick, open the eyes of the blind, the ears of the deaf would hear, and the tongue of the dumb would speak." I was not doing any of these things. Did I have the Priesthood? What was wrong? I had administered to the sick many times, but none had ever gotten up and walked out. More questions arose. Christ mentioned being born spiritually (John 3:5). Alma was more explicit, "And now I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?" (Alma 5:14). I found many scriptures relating to the subject and decided that I had never been born spiritually. I had assumed that because I was a member and had hands laid upon me and had been given the gift of the Holy Ghost, that I had received the Holy Ghost, and then there was a misleading sentence in my patriarchal blessing. I read the speech of King Benjamin many times (Mosiah, Chapters 2-6, and verses such as Jacob 4:6, 7:29; Alma 17:2-3; 3rd Nephi, Chapters 17 and 19. These became special to me. Then I read John 14:12. I became obsessed to know why I was not able to do any of the things that the scriptures mentioned.
I had become a loner. I seldom spoke of the scriptures to anyone. I did not want to be overbearing or fanatical, and I did not want my family to suffer because of my great desire to read and study. About this time, I was concentrating on the pre-existence. I found the John was foreordained to write the Book of Revelations 600 years before he was born (1st Nephi 14:25-27). I learned that some were foreordained unto condemnation (Jude 4). Others were foreordained to prophets and I also learned that all were foreordained to do some particular thing. I wanted to know what I was to do. More fasting, praying, attending the temple, working harder than ever, organizing my life so that the work of the Lord was the first priority. Regardless of what I had or wanted to do, it became secondary. I found a great verse, "I, the Lord, will show unto you what I will concerning you, or what is my will concerning you" (D&C 88:80). I had hope in other verses such as D&C 50:13-14; D&C 88:80 D&C 101:38; D&C 93:1. These and many others, gave me a desire and I forged ahead with a determination, fixed and unchanging, with an unmovable faith that I, too, could be effective.
My knowledge grew and my understanding was enlarged and I gained wisdom, but all this was to be preparation for a trial. I learned another great verse, "You receive no witness until the trial of your faith" (Ether 12:6). Everything started to go wrong. One bad incident after another . My wife was the Women's Mutual President and I was the Elder's President. It seemed that everything was in complete chaotic, impossible situation. Then, in the depths of anguish asking "Why?" I came upon another scripture that gave me hope. D&C 59:21, "In nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things, and obey not his commandments." I tried to find some purpose in all this. I confessed the hand of God; I kept the commandments. I read where Peter expressed the idea that the servants of God esteemed the trial of their faith as "MORE PRECIOUS THAN FINE GOLD." I thought that it must be the trial of our faith, thus did little to console us. Things got progressively worse. I became worried and experienced sleepless nights, anxiety, and oppression and these haunted me to the 'nth' degree. I lost about 25 pounds in three weeks. One night, while my wife was attending Mutual and a stake meeting after, I spend several agonizing hours upon my knees before the Lord. In desperation, I told him I was willing to accept any answer--death, misery, hell, anything. I had the faith that God could do anything he so desired. I was willing to do anything and promised that I would do anything if he could find an answer. I arose and retired to bed and slept soundly for the first time in weeks. The next day, the answer came. It was worse than death. I cannot give the details and will never do so. My wife looked at me and knew that I had had a unique experience and that I was in agony. As I reflect upon the answer the Lord sent; it would have been easier to see my wife and children dead. However, after these many years, it was the greatest blessing we could have received; we just could not recognize it as such. I ended up in the hospital for three days and the doctors never did find anything wrong with me.
Upon my return from the hospital, three very distinct individual experiences were prepared for me. The Holy Ghost was present every day in our home from May 6 to August 23 that year. On August we, my wife and I were sitting across the desk from Harold B. Lee. We received chastisement, instructions and blessings which were to be the guiding factors in our lives for the next few years. Upon our departure from Harold B. Lee's office, the Holy Ghost was gone and we were able to carry on by ourselves. Next, one of the neighbors came over to see how I was feeling and we talked briefly. I casually mentioned some gospel principles. She went home and within two days phone calls were coming, asking what I had told the neighbor. Everyone I talked to had the same reaction. I spoke the same, I was still the same person, but after speaking to people, they began to repent and go to the temple. It was strange. I became apprehensive, not completely understanding what was taking place. Within three months, the entire crew I supervised at work either were married in the temple or were baptized. The Elders Quorum sprouted new life. Within three years, they all went to the temple with the exception of three. I was the Stake Mission President and similar results took place. My wife was expecting the seventh child a few weeks after I left the hospital. When we were at the hospital for the baby's birth, the nurses were excited. The baby was in distress and the doctor was called. They worked on my wife, and I became deeply concerned. When the baby was born, it was pronounced well, and I was sent home. Still not satisfied, I prayed and asked the Lord to make everything right. I had only been home a few hours when the phone rang. A specialist had been called and the baby had a heart condition. The heart was enlarged, several valves were leaking and there was not much chance for it to live. I took my Counselor, after a long prayer to the Lord, and went to the hospital. We placed our hands on the baby and gave it a name and a blessing. I turned to my wife and the doctor and told them the baby was all right and to not worry about it. Two weeks later, the same doctors examined the baby, and she had absolutely no indication of an enlarged heart of any leaking valves. I knew then that the signs do follow, and that I did have the power and authority of the priesthood. Our child was the Lord's way of preparing and giving us the important opportunity to know for ourselves that all who are true and faithful can do the same.
After having had such a great blessings, we became more dedicated. We labored long and hard, giving of our means, time, substance, etc. to anyone in need that we happened to meet. The Lord magnified us in our labors, I received promotions and pay raises, until I was in wonderment that God had been so merciful unto us. I knew that there were divine principles involved in our experiences, and if I could learn the principles, I could teach others the principles and they could learn the same and experience the same that I had. I began to study long hours, writing scriptures on three by five note cards, filing them away, then memorizing scriptures. I found that I could memorize and retain five or six scriptures every day, when a few years prior, I could remember nothing. I learned the principles of teaching by the Spirit and many other things. I learned to love all men regardless of their circumstances or how they lived. I could have given my life for them. I learned what charity was. I knew that if God loved me enough to give the life of his Son, I would be unprofitable unless I was, also, willing to give my life for my fellowmen. However, the Lord did not want my life; he already had it. My children became righteous, we had no problems, and I had a sweet, loving wife that supported me. Being magnified on the right and left by the Lord, I, indeed, knew the meaning of the scripture, "Lord, my cup runneth over."
As I learned the correct principles, I tried them and they were always right. We could heal the sick, see visions, entertain angles, read sacred scriptures yet to be written. I had some distinct experiences that are sacred and were most helpful to me. The thing I became most proficient in was teaching by the Spirit; to be able to tell a man or a woman that the Holy Ghost would bear testimony unto them that the things being taught were true. It was this that motivated and brought the Elders and non-members into the church. The power of the Holy Ghost was being manifest through me. I was most grateful and thanked God on many occasions. I grew in stature and began to be called upon to give many talks. I travelled to many regional meetings and was subsequently called to serve as a regional and mission president, until my release on the past October 1, 1975.
I will outline a few of the scriptures that enabled me to teach spiritually, and the things that came to me on those occasions. D&C 50:13-14--My duty was to teach by the Spirit. I had to have the spirit or I could not teach or motivate people to righteousness. D&C 42:14--This verse let me know that I could never teach unless I had the Spirit. D&C 11:21; Alma 17:2-3--these verses taught me that unless I was a student of the scriptures I could never be effective. The promise was there. I had to have a knowledge of the scriptures before my tongue could be loosed. Also, I could have the Spirit unto the convincing of men. I could teach with the power and authority of God. Included was much fasting and prayer. I became knowledgeable about most subjects of the Gospel, but sometimes became ineffective because I was teaching what I thought should teach and not what the Lord wanted taught. I gave some good talks, but soon learned that the ineffective ones were the ones I prepared. I found three scriptures with the same thought. Matthew 10:19-20; D&C 84:85; D&C 100:5-8. I was determined to never prepare another lesson or talk in my lifetime. The scriptures were true; I had a testimony. I had treasured up in my mind the things of God for years, and could continue to do so. Then, I really learned the meaning of faith. Faith is to have the assurance of things unseen. The faith to move mountains was far distant, but to speak the thoughts that should be given in the very moment. I was determined to try. In my next speaking assignment, I took the scriptures, fasted and prayed. I was seated on the stand with a blank mind, not one thought. After the sacrament, a youth speaker and a musical number were scheduled. I began to sweat, my hands were sticky and I had a sick feeling of failure in my stomach. As I approached the pulpit with nothing to say, I was terrified. I opened my mouth and made a few preliminary remarks about the reverence, the passing of the sacrament, etc. Then a thought came to my mind and I began to express it and I felt the Spirit guide me, and I have never prepared a lesson or talk from that day to this. My preparation is continual, daily study, fasting twice each week, attending the temple, and giving service whenever and wherever the opportunity arises. I learned to bear a testimony as described by the scriptures. I learned that if we do all things in the name of Jesus Christ, the Holy Ghost is bound to bear witness of all things. My faith increased until I had an absolute knowledge of the power of the Holy Ghost in teaching and in other things. There were two parts to my new found experiences:
1. My responsibility was to be worthy, obey the commandments, do anything the Lord wanted, say anything the Lord wanted at anytime, any place, and in whatever circumstances the Lord should place me. I had to forget what my experiences and learning had taught me to do. I learned that the Lord knew the hearts and minds of the people, and I had to express the thoughts as they came, not as I normally would do.
2. The Lord's part was to give me the thoughts he wanted expressed and I would express them. The Holy Ghost was to bear witness unto the people that what I said was true. I became successful and had many choice experiences. I was accompanied by angles and magnified beyond my comprehension. When I teach a Sunday School class or a priesthood class, I open the book, look for the scriptures related to the subject in the lesson manual, then I close the book, go to class and spend no more than five minutes on the study. I go to class and begin to teach according to the thoughts that come to mind.
I have had many unique experiences, and will relate two of them. These are sacred and I trust that you will treat them as such. I hope they are not of a boastful nature, for I know that I could not have them without the help of the Lord. In fact, I know what Moses meant when he said, "Now I know that man is nothing, which thing I had not supposed." In fact, I feel my lack and need more today than years before. I truly feel that of all men, I am the least of all.
In March 1972, an all-mission conference was called in Arizona. Bruce R. McConkie was to attend and I was to be there also. I felt totally inadequate. The Mission President called me several times to ask what I would talk on or do. They were to print programs. I could not decide. With a General Authority in attendance, I was completely unworthy. He finally called again and said that the program was going to press that afternoon and he had to have something. I told him to get a non-member who had only read the Joseph Smith tract and bring him to the conference and we would demonstrate the conversion process. He thought that took "guts." I arrived at the conference and found that Elder McConkie's assignment was changed and that he would not be there. That put me at ease somewhat. When the appointed time came, the non-member was introduced. I told him that the Holy Ghost would bear witness to him that the church was true. In 16-1/2 minutes he asked for baptism. He was a retired Methodist Minister.
I had another experience. I was invited to a regional young adult fireside and was anxious to help the youth and give them a greater feeling of the Spirit and the church. I wanted to answer any questions they might have. The questions they would want answered were the kind that they were afraid to ask openly. As I was introduced, the thought came to me, and an experience that Harold B. Lee related came to mind, and I was determined to have the same experience right then. I told the Young Adults that I was going to answer all of their questions that night. I told them that if they would each bow their heads and pray to God and ask him the questions, then I would give them the answers to their questions. I started to answer the questions and the answers came to my mind on many different subjects--from four-wheel drive trucks to adultery. The meeting lasted well over two hours, and when we finished, every eye was shedding tears as the Holy Ghost touched each individual heart. After the meeting, many of the young people came to me with tears in their eyes, confessing that their prayers had been answered. Several of them testified to seeing angels and other manifestations.
There have been many such experiences over the years, and I do not wish to elaborate, but to continue to serve God so that I can be the means of bringing some soul unto the throne of God. I trust that you will have benefitted from this lengthy discourse. I typed it myself and am not capable of typing with much skill as you can see. I pray for you and your success. I could do a much better job by conversing with you, personally. I trust in God for our development and you will become an instrument in the hands of God in accomplishing much in preparing this church for the second coming of the Savior. I commend you for your efforts and dedication. I would also like to remind you that I am nothing but what the Lord has made of me and done for me to accomplish His purposes.
Herschel N. Pedersen
Last edited by RockSlider on Tue Feb 04, 2014 11:24 am, edited 1 time in total.