A Ride to Church

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By Stephen Baer

When I was seven years old, my mom and dad befriended a less-active family in our ward that consisted of a single mother and her two sons. My older brother, John, and I were the same ages as the two boys, Robin and Shannon, so it seemed appropriate that we extend a hand of fellowship.

The family didn't own a car, so my father offered to pick them up at their home in a nearby city and give them rides to and from church. I remember the days Dad summoned my brother and me to accompany him to pick them up. I begrudged it at the time, but despite my groaning, Dad continued to give them rides until they were actively attending church and had their own car. Robin and Shannon were soon baptized and confirmed, and their mom began participating in Relief Society. I didn't realize at the time the positive repercussions that would come from this act of service.

A few months before I began eighth grade, my dad passed away. To compound my grief, I was insecure about my physical appearance and lack of friends. I began to succumb to feelings of despair, and I spent my lunch hours walking to my house and back because I couldn't bear sitting alone.

That same year, the family we had befriended moved into our school district, and Shannon began attending my school. We became immediate friends. I felt accepted, and I was no longer so sad. Knowing that someone enjoyed being my friend boosted my confidence and self-worth. I no longer had to spend my lunch hour by myself.

Our friendship deepened during high school. When our older brothers left for college and missions, Shannon and I became surrogate brothers. We received our Eagle Scout Awards at the same court of honor, went to the same university, left on missions during the same summer, and became roommates afterward. We were both married in the Salt Lake Temple to wonderful women, and our first children were born within three months of each other.

One evening shortly before Shannon's wedding, we began talking about our childhood. I told him how he had helped me overcome my insecurities and cope with the death of my father. It was his friendship, I added, that had helped me turn my life around. Shannon then told me that if my dad had not given his family rides to church, he would not have attended church, served a mission, and been sealed in the temple.

The Spirit touched me strongly during that conversation as I realized the blessings that a simple ride to church had on our lives. As I reflected on Shannon's friendship, I realized that my father not only helped save Shannon's family, but he also prepared a friend who helped save his own son.

October 2007 Ensign Magazine - Latter-Day Voices