The following is part of former NFL player Chad Lewis's 2012 BYU Women's Conference address "Mormon’s Warning: Arming Your Home and Family." During his address, Lewis shared how his parents taught him how to strengthen his home and family through a tragedy that happened just months before his mission.
Four months before I went to Taiwan, my dad suffered a massive stroke. It happened on the night of July 2. Before my dad was taken to the hospital, he was given a priesthood blessing by my brother Jason, who had just returned from his mission to Argentina, as well as our home teacher, Larry Heaps.
Once we got to the emergency room, it was obvious that my dad’s condition was life-threatening. He was given an MRI to accurately diagnose the source of the extreme pain coming from his head. The image from the MRI showed he had an aneurysm that would kill him unless the clot could be removed and the bleeding stopped.
He was rushed into surgery. We found a room where we could be alone, and my mom asked Larry Heaps to offer a prayer for my family and for my dad. I remember kneeling on the ground—it was hard—and crying as Larry prayed for all of us. I felt almost too weak to walk, but there he was, helping us into the presence of the Savior.
My mom knew that was what we needed. That was how she was raised by her parents. After a lifetime of them bringing her to the Savior, she was doing the same thing for our family. The doctor told us that the chance of my dad surviving surgery did not look good.
Our prayers were answered, though, and my dad’s life was spared. The surgery was serious enough that we were told he would never move his left side again. Over the next two months that he stayed in the hospital, we witnessed miracles, both small and great. Not only did he regain the ability to walk, but as a family we found the love and grace of God in the middle of our tribulations. We loved and cherished one another more than we ever had before. We discovered what Victor Hugo meant in his Christian story of Les Miserables, that “to love another person is to see the face of God.”6
In those delicate and trying days after my dad’s stroke, my mom taught us the lesson shared by President Thomas S. Monson; it was important that we think to thank, and pause to pray.7
She went to the gift shop of the hospital and purchased a small journal, which she called our blessings book. We gathered together as a family for prayer each night and we would write in our blessings book everything we were thankful for. Instead of dwelling on things we didn’t have, she helped us focus on things that we did have.
My parents taught me that prayer was more important than money and faith more powerful than the cords of death.
My parents taught me the power of great music as my dad listened to his favorite tape of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, the Ode to Joy, over and over again in his hospital room. That music helped create an atmosphere where miracles could take place. He was surrounded by great music.
My parents had armed our home and family with the gospel of Jesus Christ. During those two months, we fasted and prayed. Our neighbors, friends, and ward members fasted and prayed with us and for us. We gathered in the hospital each night for family prayer, and we were given the strength to move forward for another day.
It was a miracle to each one of us who were involved in his healing process. I received and opened my mission call in his hospital room. I couldn’t wait to get to Taiwan and let the people know about the restoration of the priesthood that had just saved my dad’s life and helped him return to health.
Being a missionary changed my life. As I worked to bring my Chinese brothers and sisters to Christ, I found that they brought me closer to Christ. My mission presidents, Kent Watson and Tim Stratford, tutored me and encouraged me with wisdom to follow the Savior. So did my companions. That was the Lord’s university. It is available to every young man and woman in the Church.
When I was playing for the Eagles, Paul Tagliabue, the commissioner of the National Football League, asked me to be an ambassador for the NFL in China. I knew I wasn’t the smartest player in the NFL, but I was the only one who could speak Mandarin Chinese.
One of my first assignments was to cover the Super Bowl in Chinese for the first live broadcast to China. I was thrilled, but then I realized I did not know how to say quarterback in Chinese. That could be a real problem. Sure I could speak Chinese, but I was limited to speaking missionary Chinese. I had no problem teaching about the Atonement, but how was I going to describe the game without knowing any of the vocabulary?
I called the league office the following day and let them know that I was probably not the best fit to be in the television booth. They just told me I would be fine. I told them to hang on. “You’ll get what you get and you won’t throw a fit.”
I studied my old missionary language materials and prepared the best that I could. It was not a surprise to me but it may have been to others that in describing plays on the field, I testified that Tom Brady was throwing true passes.
When my Chinese broadcast partner made a big deal out of the fact that I had four children at the time, I responded to him, “Shr Jye Shang Mei You Cheng Gung Neng Ni Bu Jya Ting de Shr Bai,” which means, “No success in the world can compensate for failure in the home.”
Lead image from Chad Lewis's Twitter page
In Nephi's great vision of what would become of his people, he was shown our day and the restoration of the gospel. The theme of the 2012 BYU Women's Conference centers on the description he gave of the "covenant people of the Lord . . . scattered upon all the face of the earth." Nephi tells us that one characteristic of the "church of the Lamb" is that "they [are] armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory."
The talks compiled here take that theme to heart — both by showing us ways in which we can, as daughters of God, more fully realize that prophetic statement through the things we do in our families, our congregations, and our communities, and ways in which we already fit Nephi's description.