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Although the following does not come from the earliest days of Church History, it recounts a tale of modern saints who demonstrated their faith in the face of incredible danger. It reminds me of the promises to the righteous in 1 Nephi 22 and the statement in 1 Nephi 14:
And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld the power of the Lamb of God, that it descended upon the saints of the church of the Lamb, and upon the covenant people of the Lord, who were scattered upon all the face of the earth; and they were armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory. (1 Nephi 14:14)
The account comes from a talk given by Elder Andre K. Anastasiou in the October 1946 General Conference. Elder Anastasiou had been President of the British Mission from 1940-1944.
London, particularly, and many other large cities were in danger of destruction. Bombing began and it was very severe. Many people perished by day and by night. Latter-day Saints, I imagine, with the rest of the people prayed harder than ever before to be delivered from destruction. We spent nearly two years in cellars and shelters, hiding from destructive bombs, but I am grateful to say that not one Latter-day Saint perished in the destruction of the cities of Great Britain, not one. . . .
Some people said to me: “Brother Anastasiou, do you mean to tell us that not one member of the Church perished in that terrible bombing of London?”
I said: “Yes, it is true, not one Latter-day Saint.” We lost one family whose mother was a member of the church but in name only. We never knew her. We learned of the destruction of herself, her children, her husband and their home by a bomb, and that was the first time we knew that she was a member of the Church. She never came anywhere near the Church. Her old father, living in Manchester, sent us the word that his daughter and her whole family had perished in one of the bombing raids upon London. But among faithful Latter-day Saints it was a joy to see protection.
In some cases we lost our furniture, our windows, our doors, our ceilings but not a life. In the city of Liverpool, one of our Branch Presidents, Brother Patey told me a story which I shall never forget: One of those five hundred pound bombs fell outside of his little home, but it did not go off. The children immediately said: “Daddy, it is a D.A.” A delay action bomb, and he said to me: “We began to pray,” five children and the father, no mother. He is a widower. He said they all prayed so earnestly and when they had finished praying, the children said: “Daddy, we will be all right. We will be all right in our home tonight.”
And so they went to bed, imagine, with that terrific bomb lying just outside the door half submerged in the ground. If it had gone off it would have destroyed probably forty or fifty houses and killed two or three hundred people, but the faith of that little humble family was so wonderful that I shall never forget it.
The next morning the A.R.P. Squad was on the scene. The whole neighborhood was removed for forty-eight hours and the bomb was finally taken away. When it was successfully removed the people were called back to their homes.
On the way back Brother Patey asked the foreman of the A.R.P. Squad: “Well, what did you find?”
“Mr. Patey, we got at the bomb outside of your door and found it ready to explode at any moment. There was nothing wrong with it. We are puzzled why it did not go off.”
Brother Patey knew in his heart that it was not a puzzle, that it was not luck as the man said to him, “Lucky people you still have your homes to go back to.” Brother Patey knew deep in his heart that it was the answer to a humble prayer of a good Latter-day Saint and his children.
He said to me: “I was so anxious that our Branch records in my home would not be destroyed.” That was his anxiety. . . .
The police sometimes would come and say: “Don’t you think it unwise that you should hold your services while the air raid is on? Think of the casualties you would sustain if a bomb were to fall upon your church.” We said: “Thank you, officer, we recognize the danger but we feel safe in a dedicated building,” and we never cancelled a single service. Many of our buildings, of course, had no windows and no ceilings . . . We had hardly any heat and hardly any light.
I remember one testimony meeting when every Saint took one minute to bear a testimony, and one little old lady got up. She said: “Brothers and sisters, the testimony of the Gospel is burning in my bosom.” And as she sat down, she said to her neighbor: “My dear, my feet are freezing.”