BY RICHARD JAMES, Council of Twelve Apostles
I remember little about my baptism, but I know it was on my eighth birthday.
I vividly remember the birthday present I received from my sister and brother-in-law: a soccer ball. It was a great present. But I also remember feeling I wanted to be like Jesus and do the things he did. It was this desire at 8 years old to be a disciple of Jesus Christ that has shaped my life and enabled me to make responsible choices.
My father was a coal miner and worked alternating shifts of days, afternoons, and nights. Some days I did not see him. It was hard physical labor. He would come home straight from the coal pit, and then we would visit church members and friends.
Many people came to know Community of Christ because of his testimony and commitment. For me he is an outstanding example of humble, grace-filled servant ministry.
As a child I used to wear the knee pads my father wore underground in the coal mine. I would go into our coal shed and pretend I was my dad, working and digging out the coal. I wanted to be like him.
I remember when I was 10 or 11 going on a school visit to a safari park. Our family did not have much money, and I can see my mother now emptying her wallet into my hands, giving me everything she had so I could go on this school visit.
It was not much—just a few coins with little value. But because she loved me, she willingly sacrificed her last few coins. She loved and cared for me so much that she gave everything. Her nature was to be generous with everything. Though we had little, she always gave, and we always had enough. I wanted to be like her.
I ask myself now, whom do I want to be like? I want to be like Jesus. What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus Christ? I want to imitate him, to be humble and full of grace, and to be generous by nature. Giving and receiving is what it means to be a disciple. Would I empty my wallet because I love and care so much for the mission of Jesus Christ?
My parents taught me well!