Genevieve Johnson Van Wagenen

A Witness of the Savior

“I shall never forget one sacrament meeting in the Provo First Ward. I was about 12 years old at the time. Apostle Melvin J. Ballard was the speaker. He bore his testimony. It was truly a spiritual experience. His testimony thrilled the audience. He told of seeing the Savior. He wept as he told how the Savior took him in his arms and kissed and hugged him and blessed him. And as Apostle Ballard kissed the Savior’s feet he saw the nail prints.

“I sat spellbound and enthralled, for I truly felt the Lord’s Spirit at the meeting. Apostle Ballard was a wonderful soloist. After speaking, he sang ‘I Know That My Redeemer Lives.’ The tears rolled down his cheeks as he sang. They rolled down mine too. I felt very close to my Savior. I knew his testimony was true. I desired to live so that I too could be in my Savior’s presence.”

—Genevieve Johnson Van Wagenen

Elder Melvin J. Ballard recorded the experience as follows:

“I recall an experience which I had two years ago, bearing witness to my soul of the reality of his death, of his crucifixion, and his resurrection, that I shall never forget. I bear it to you tonight, to you, young boys and girls; not with a spirit to glory over it, but with a grateful heart and with thanksgiving in my soul, that I know that he lives, and I know that through him men must find their salvation, and that we can not ignore this blessed offering that he has given us as the means of our spiritual growth to prepare us to come to him and be justified.

“Away on the Fort Peck Reservation where I was doing missionary work . . . , I found myself one evening in the dreams of the night in that sacred building, the temple. After a season of prayer and rejoicing I was informed that I should have the privilege of entering into one of those rooms, to meet a glorious Personage, and as I entered the door I saw, seated on a raised platform, the most glorious Being my eyes have ever beheld, or that I ever conceived existed in all the eternal worlds. As I approached to be introduced, he arose and stepped towards me with extended arms, and he smiled as he softly spoke my name. If I shall live to be a million years old, I shall never forget that smile. He took me into his arms and kissed me, pressed me to his bosom, and blessed me, until the marrow of my bones seemed to melt! When he had finished, I fell at his feet, and, as I bathed them with my tears and kisses, I saw the prints of the nails in the feet of the Redeemer of the world. The feeling that I had in the presence of him who hath all things in his hands, to have his love, his affection, and his blessing was such that if I ever can receive that of which I had but a foretaste, I would give all that I am, all that I ever hope to be, to feel what I then felt!”

(Melvin J. Ballard, “The Sacramental Covenant,” Improvement Era, Oct. 1919, 1031–32)