The Element of Surprise

Written by Sister Natalie Shawver on Thursday, February 23, 2017. Posted in Special Series

The Element of Surprise

This article is Part 5 of Sister Natalie Shawver's series “Born and Raised”…Or Not.

It’s been said that the Lord can come into our lives like a rushing, mighty wind. We may not be expecting it, but He touches each of us in just the way we need — and sometimes, to the surprise of those around us.

Take, for example, Brother Bob Batson, Cincinnati-Morrow Mission, Ohio.

After attending the Niles, Ohio Branch in 1978 with his girlfriend, Sister Ruth Genaro, Brother Bob decided to take Sister Ruth up on her invitation to visit the Lorain Branch with her family.

“To her surprise, I said I wanted to go, too. I had been contemplating baptism, even discussing it with friends at school (I was attending the University of Toledo at the time). I told one friend that if God called me that Sunday, I would make my commitment. The spirit was strong in Lorain that Sunday — various gifts were manifested, the gift of tongues and interpretation, visions, and preaching. We sat with a large group of young people packed into three pews at the front of the auditorium. At one point in the service, the spirit prompted me to stand and request my baptism, and I complied, startling everyone around me! The spirit was calling that Sunday, and I didn’t want to be left behind!” he said.

Sister Karen Pezzenti, also from Cincinnati-Morrow, Ohio, had a similar experience in church one Sunday with her husband, Brother Paul Pezzenti.

“Growing up in the Catholic faith and not having attended since I was married to Paul, I really missed attending church and having communion. I had been raised to attend church weekly, so there was a void for me. As our married years progressed, we wanted children, and it wasn’t happening. I knew that it was time that we attend church. We began to attend regularly, but we would sit in the back. Each Sunday, we would move up a few rows. Each Sunday, I would begin to listen more. Sunday after Sunday, I wanted to have that faith that I heard from the humble sisters in our branch. I also wanted communion. One Sunday, God’s spirit filled me with the desire to be baptized.”

Did Sister Ruth know that Brother Bob was contemplating baptism? What about Brother Paul? Did he wonder about his wife’s religious desires?

In reality, did it matter?

The choice to ask for your baptism is personal — even more personal than a friendship, romantic relationship, or marriage. God calls each of us and sometimes surprises us — and those around us — in the process.

It just makes it that much sweeter.

“And again I say unto you as I have said before, that as ye have come to the knowledge of the glory of God, or if ye have known of his goodness and have tasted of his love, and have received a remission of your sins, which causeth such exceeding great joy in your souls, even so I would that ye should remember, and always retain in remembrance, the greatness of God, and your own nothingness…” Mosiah 4:11

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