Eric Shumway Experience


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President of BYU-Hawaii

The genius of the Church includes the policy that we all worship within our ward boundaries. Unlike many other denominations, we don’t shop around for a Bishop we like or the congregation we want to associate with. We take the ward family that we get. And in most wards and stakes, there is wonderful diversity, numerous people who fit all of the needy requirements of Mathew 25, literally and figuratively, hungry, lonely, naked, and in prison.

Another reason some of us don’t reach out to the "least of these, my brethren," is that sometimes we don’t think we have anything to offer. We are intimidated by our lack of resources or personality. Sometimes we are paralyzed by fear, fear of rejection or our own incompetence. We say, "What could I say or do to lift or help the likes of him?"

Years ago, as a campus stake president, I called a local Tongan brother to serve on the stake high council. "But how can I serve in a university stake?" He protested, "I know very little English. I’ve had no formal education. I will be a laughing stock among all those smart students." This man recited a list of reasons why he couldn’t possibly serve among smart people. I held to my conviction that this appointment was from the Lord. His wife finally said in her own native tongue, "I know my husband. I know his weaknesses. He is a good man and if the Lord wants him to speak in any language, I know he will find a way to do it."

This man did serve in the BYU-Hawaii Stake for several years. For the first few weeks, he was in torment with fears and feelings of inferiority but he took his calling seriously. When he had to speak in his role as high councilor, he prepared with all his might, mind and strength. He practiced in front of his mirror. He memorized and recited and repeated over and over the difficult lines. You can all predict what happened. This brother became one of the most popular speakers in the Stake. He never became fluent in English but he had a humble style and a fervor and wonderfully fresh ways of putting words together. That made him beloved and appreciated. When he stood at the pulpit before all those smart people, they paid rapt attention. He fed the hungry, gave drink to the thirsty and liberated the captive.

Experience shared by Eric Shumway, President of BYU-Hawaii, at a Dev. at BYU-Idaho on April 1, 2003