A gift to future generations

by Robert Preston

Ernest and his wife

My father, Ernest Preston, was born at the end of the 1st World War in 1918. He married my mum in 1943 and thankfully survived the 2nd World War. In his own words he “had no interest in religion” until fourteen years later, when two missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints knocked on his door in 1957. As a result of this visit the lives of his posterity were changed forever. It is impossible to count the number of “apples in this seed” as the generations continue to grow and multiply.

Ernest said, “When I was 39 years old, one evening I answered the doorbell and was surprised to find two young Americans, who told me that they were from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“I invited them in to give their message. They bore fervent testimony; asked us to pray about it to find out for ourselves whether it was true; and left various tracts and a Book of Mormon for us to read.

“After several such weekly discussions, it occurred to me to wonder whether there was any connection between the ‘Mormons’ whom I had read about as having several wives, and the name Mormon in the title of the book, which I was now reading. On telling my wife of this, she experienced a feeling of revulsion against having any further meetings with these young men.

“Wondering how I could persuade her, I decided to try vocal prayer, for the first real time, and so I went upstairs and knelt at the end of our bed. Feeling somewhat embarrassed and foolish I commenced, ‘Heavenly Father, I know not whether you exist or whether I am talking to myself, but many people believe in you, and I want to. Will you tell me how to persuade Doreen that if this message we have been listening to is true, then it is important that we hear it out to the end before taking a decision.’ A still small voice within me said, ‘You can find the answer in the scriptures.’ I replied, ‘Is the answer to be found in the Book of Mormon or the Bible?’ The same still small voice said, ‘You will find the answer in the Bible.’ At this stage, still considering I was talking or reasoning with myself, I said, ‘But if you are listening to me, and you are God, you can tell me the chapter and verse in the Bible where I can find the answer to my problem’, and for the last time came the answer, ‘Look at John, chapter 12, verse 7.’ I came downstairs to look in the Bible, and found the scripture, which reads, ‘Then said Jesus, let her alone; against the day if my burying hath she kept this’.

“This was enough of an answer for me. I learned not only the answer to the question which troubled me, but more importantly that God lives, and hears and answers prayers. I went into the room where my wife was, and without telling her of my marvellous experience, I informed her that I would tell the missionaries they were not to call again. This I did that same night, relating to them the experience of that morning; asking them to leave the copy of the Book of Mormon so I could continue to study and pray about it. Every evening, I picked up the Book of Mormon, uttered a silent prayer asking to know if it was true, and commenced reading where I had left off the previous night.

“I became more and more convinced that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was the true church restored to the earth. Elder Warner obtained special permission to come and baptise me on 7th December 1958, at the Northenden Chapel, Manchester.

“Since joining the Church I have served three times on the Stake High Council, twice as a Bishop, and once as a counsellor in the Stake Presidency.

“My wife is now very active in the Church and has served in many capacities, both at Ward and Stake level. We have had tremendous growth, and many, many wonderful experiences whilst serving the Lord. Latter-day Saints are wonderful. The Church is true. I pray that we might endure to the end.”