On August 27, 2017 the first Young Single Adult (YSA) stake in Canada was created in Lethbridge, Alberta. Eric R. Wilde of Lethbridge was set apart as the President of the newly created stake with David L. Orr of Fort Macleod as First Counselor and A. Clayton Leavitt of Cardston as Second Counselor.
I recall with clarity the tremendous faith and power that I felt surging from this rising generation as they with a united voice sang “If You Could Hie to Kolob” (Hymns, no. 284), the opening hymn of our first stake conference. Since that inaugural day of establishing a new stake and the work thereof being squarely placed upon the shoulders of this most capable generation, I have witnessed on many occasions their faith in Jesus Christ. The faith of these young adults was never more evident than when exercised on behalf of their stake president in his time of great need.
Faith in a Time of Great Need
It was a frigid winter Sunday morning as the stake presidency met with the Westbridge bishopric to begin the meetings of their ward conference. The 7:00 a.m. start time came and went, and our president was uncharacteristically late. In time, we decided to proceed, thinking that as a doctor who is often on-call, he may be at the hospital serving those in need. As the morning meetings unfolded and he failed to respond to our texts, our concern grew. In time, the meetings of the day were over—and still no word from our president.
Emergency Responses and Promptings
As my wife and I were driving away from the church building, the impression was very clear—we needed to check on him. As we drove the ten minutes to his home, calls to family were made, and we arrived there at the same time as his brother. President Leavitt arrived a few minutes later, who was also prompted to investigate. We entered the home. It was quiet with no response to our calling out. I felt to go to the attached garage, and upon opening the door—there was our president—prostrate on the floor of the garage unconscious.
He had succumbed to carbon monoxide poisoning while using a sprayer washer the evening before to clean his garage floor. Although a garage door was open while he worked, the deadly gas had not dissipated as he thought it would. He had finished the job, closed the door, but feeling woozy sat down, and then slumped to the floor unconscious. For eighteen hours he lay in that toxic room before we found him!
While others facilitated the arrival of emergency responders, I gave an immediate priesthood blessing, and soon he was whisked away to the care of medical specialists. Even for us layman, we knew the prognosis was bleak.
When arriving at the hospital that is located across the street from our stake center, I took a moment to try to collect myself—to be still. In that moment came the thought, even an urgent divine impression, to immediately enlist the faith of our stalwart YSA members in their president’s behalf. Knowing that Sunday meetings were still ongoing in our building, I ran across the street, found the two bishops of the wards meeting there, informed them of the emergency, and asked that they assemble their members, advise them of the accident, and ask them to unite in prayer and to exercise their faith for their president.
I then raced to a different building and made a similar request to another of our YSA wards. I was heartened to bow my head with our beloved young adults as their bishop was voice to our collective prayer of faith. As I returned to the hospital, calls to each of our other bishops were made asking them to contact their ward members and join with the rest of the stake membership in prayer and the exercise of faith. As I parked just before going into the hospital, a call came from President Leavitt. Before I could speak, he said we needed to let the stake know what had happened and enlist the faith of our members. I shared that I had already acted upon the same prompting. God knew, as did both of us, the faith and power of our stake members. By inspiring both counselors alike, He was sure to give our YSA the opportunity to exercise that faith.
Before President Wilde was airlifted from Lethbridge to Edmonton for specialized treatment, a proper priesthood blessing was given. The prognosis was dire—but there was this faith—of family, of friends, of our stake members.
Fasting and Prayers of Faith
Later that evening, an invitation was extended to our stake members to join in fasting. The following evening, a combined ward “Family Home Evening” (FHE), at the suggestion of inspired YSA, turned into a stake FHE.
Together we would sing songs of faith, recount what had happened, inform about the president’s current status, share testimony of God’s love and Christ’s healing power, listen to words of wisdom and insight into the faith to be healed, and acceptance of God’s wisdom should he not be. Then most importantly, we joined together in prayer as we ended our collective fast. What an evening! As I sat looking over this body of young and faithful disciples of Christ, I felt bolstered by what I saw in them. Like Helaman’s stripling warriors, “their minds are firm, and they do put their trust in God continually” (Alma 57:27).
I felt of God’s love, and that our president was safely in His arms, whatever the outcome of this accident. If his life was to be preserved—it would be—and if not, as the pioneer Saints sang should death come, “Happy day! All is well” (“Come, Come Ye Saints,” Hymn, no. 30).
Blessings of Healing
Against all odds, President Wilde fully recovered. Just nine days following the accident, he was discharged from the Intensive Care Unit to his home. The next day, dressed in suit and tie, as stake president he extended a call to a new YSA bishop. He was back!
Two days later he boarded a plane to Italy to fulfill a life-long commitment to attend the dedication of the Rome Italy Temple.
This is the first temple of the restored Church of Jesus Christ in Italy. President Wilde loves the country and people so dearly ever since serving there as a young missionary.
Mormon asked, then answered, “have miracles ceased? Behold, I say unto you, Nay” (Moroni 7:29). The same question can be asked today, and a like answer must be given. We who witnessed this miracle must so testify.
To those “afflicted in any manner,” Christ, the Healer, invites us to “Bring them hither, and I will heal them.” This invitation and promise rests upon Christ seeing that “[our] faith is sufficient” (3 Nephi 17:7-8).
According to God’s wisdom and design, our stake president was healed. The Spirit bears witness that the faith of our stake members, and of all who exercised faith on his behalf, was “sufficient” for this great blessing to occur. Sufficiency of faith in Christ does not dictate a desired outcome, but rather presents a worthy offering of trust in the Lord and His designs. This offering He bids us to make.
“Christ hath said: If ye will have faith in me ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me” (Moroni 7:33).
The young adults of our day have great faith and the promised power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in Christ. I have confidence that the challenges of our day, and those in the days to come, will be met by our own stripling warriors for their faith “is sufficient” to engage the mercy and power of Christ.