Traditionally, the 12 Days of Christmas start on Christmas Day and last until the evening of January 5th – also known as Twelfth Night. The 12 Days have been celebrated in Europe since before the middle ages and were a time of celebration.
It has been our custom at The Boy Scout to post a Scouter’s minute each day leading up to Christmas. This year, we decided to try something new. The Christmas messages will focus on the lives of modern-day prophets and times when they exemplified a point of the Scout Law. Come back for the next five days to find out how prophets of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have been trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.
Ezra Taft Benson teaches us to be reverent.
A Moving Experience in Russia
Ezra Taft Benson, who would become the 13th LDS Church President, was elected a member of the National Executive Board of the Boy Scouts of America, succeeding President George Albert Smith (May 23, 1949). Then Serving as an Apostle, he was sworn in as the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture (Jan. 20, 1953) in the Eisenhower administration.
“On one of his trips to Russia as Secretary of Agriculture, President Benson had a moving experience revealing the deep religious faith of some of the Russian people.
“He had been conferring with Premier Khrushchev and other high officials of the Russian government as a representative of the United States. Following that conference, he indicated a desire to visit some church where Christians were still permitted to meet. After some persistence, he was taken to a Baptist church in Moscow. The members of the press accompanying him to Russia for his governmental meeting also followed him to this little church.
“It was one of the very few Christian churches still open in that vast city. The congregation was made up mainly of elderly people, many of whom were women.
“As the obviously American group walked into the chapel, the people in the congregation looked almost agape, hardly believing their eyes. One of the Americans, Secretary Benson, was unexpectedly called to the pulpit.
“Choking with emotion, he testified in that city to the reality of the Lord Jesus Christ.
“‘God lives. I know that He lives. I know that Jesus is the Christ and the Redeemer of the world,’ he declared.
“His words were translated into Russian. With each sentence, nods of assent were seen throughout the congregation. Women removed their head coverings and wiped their eyes. Men rubbed away the moisture that blurred their vision. The hardened news correspondents who came because they felt they were compelled to as a part of the Secretary’s entourage, and who at first had no interest in this religious gathering whatever, now wept with the congregation.
“It was a solemn moment. Hearts were melted. A spirit enveloped the worshippers such as they had never felt before. Hands folded and heads bowed in humble prayer.
“‘I firmly believe in prayer,’ the voice of the Secretary [Elder Benson] continued. ‘It is possible to reach out and tap the unseen power which gives strength and anchor in time of need. Be not afraid. Keep God’s commandments. Love the Lord. Love one another. Love all mankind. Truth will triumph. Time is on the side of truth.’
“The American press then slowly walked down the aisle toward the door with a humble attitude in complete contrast to that with which they had entered. As they passed the pews, anxious hands and hungry hearts reached out to them. Then from thankful lips came the strains of ‘God be with you till we meet again … ,’ although everyone realized that this hope would likely never be fulfilled in mortality”
Adapted from “A Moving Experience in Russia,” Ensign, Jan. 1986, pp. 12–13).