Latter-day Saint Life

The Surprising and Influential Advice Elder and Sister Gong Received During Their Marriage Sealing


Recently, Elder D. Todd Christofferson wrote an articleabout the remarkable life of our new apostle, Elder Gerrit W. Gong. In the article, which will be published in the October Ensign, President Russell M. Nelson said, “When we send Elder Gong into any situation, those involved feel they have found a friend. He has a high level of knowledge, but he is humble. He relates with people at all levels and is always well-prepared and persuasive.”

A newly married graduate student at England’s University of Oxford, Gerrit W. Gong learned through personal experience that when we love the Lord and trust Him, He will help us, guide us, and strengthen us.

Gerrit was a Rhodes Scholar working to complete two graduate degrees, one of them a doctorate. At the same time, he was serving in the Oxford Ward bishopric. He and his wife, Susan, remembered advice that Elder David B. Haight (1906–2004) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles gave when he performed their marriage in the Salt Lake Temple. “He told us always to have a calling,” Elder Gong says. “We knew if we trusted God and did our best, He would help us.”

Gerrit and Susan did receive “divine help and tender mercies,” he says. While continuing in the bishopric, Gerrit finished all the academic requirements for a doctoral degree, except his dissertation. He asked the bishop of the Oxford Ward, Alan Webster, for a priesthood blessing. In the blessing, Gerrit received this promise: “Continue doing all you can, and the Lord will bless you.”

Two ward members who were experienced legal secretaries volunteered to help type his manuscript, and Gerrit was able to finish his dissertation in a few months. In fact, he completed both a master’s and a doctoral degree in just over three years. Upon graduation he also accepted a faculty research position at the university. His experience at Oxford strengthened his trust in the Lord, trust that endures to this day and will continue to bless Gerrit W. Gong as he now serves in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

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