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A Shout From The Attic: Church Building Mission - 4

Continuing his autobiography, Ronnie Bray tells of a succesful mission to persuade a man to change his mind.

While I was serving as a building missionary on the Ipswich chapel, the Ipswich Branch initially met at a converted house in London Road, at the bottom end of town. Later, they moved to Castle Hill Community Centre to accommodate the large numbers attending meetings. When we met at London Road, a young lady called Brenda Bloomfield expressed a desire to be baptised.

Our proselyting missionaries at that time were Marion “Mike” Bowler, and Larry Lunt, both of them very intelligent, nice, and
dedicated missionaries.

Brenda had been attending Church for three years, and although her father didn’t mind her going to Church, he objected to her baptism. Many missionaries had presented themselves at his door to try to persuade him to change his mind, but the answer had always been the same. “NO!” He had remained adamant, and Brenda, although disappointed, was a dutiful daughter who continued to attend, to participate, and to pray patiently that her father’s heart would soften one day, so she could enter into the waters of baptism and make her covenant with the Lord, receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enjoy all the blessings of membership in the Lord’s Church.

One day, Mike Bowler asked me if I would go with him and ask Mr Bloomfield if he would let Brenda follow her heart and be
baptised. I agreed to go with him, and we met at the London Road building where we knelt together and prayed for the
softening of a father’s heart, so that his daughter could be blessed. From the meetinghouse, it was only a short walk down London road, and around a corner, to the Bloomfield’s mid-terrace home. I knocked on the door, and Mr Bloomfield opened it, standing grim faced at the two Mormons on his doorstep. I smiled in greeting, but Mr Bloomfield did not smile.

“Good evening, Mr Bloomfield. I am Elder Bray and this is Elder Bowler. We have come to ask your permission for Brenda to be baptised.”

Mr Bloomfield was taken aback at this directness, but he was not deflected from his determination to maintain the position he had held so long. Nevertheless, he did not turn us down flat. He had questions.

“What difference will it make to her if she is baptised? How will that help anything?” I don’t know whether he had asked
those questions before, but his opinion seemed to be that baptism wouldn’t alter anything, so why bother? The prayer we had made for his heart softening had been heard, and the Lord put his words into my mouth as I sought to make a good answer to him.

“When she is baptised, Brenda will be happier because she wants to be closer to God and baptism brings a person into a closer communion with Him.” His face asked another question, but he did not speak, and so I continued, “She will be happier because she will be blessed, and being blessed, she will be a better daughter to you. I was silent, but looked gently into his eyes, as did Elder Bowler.

Mr Bloomfield shifted his physical position a little. He took his arms down from the hallway walls, where he had formed a
silent barrier. From the look on his face, his spiritual position was also changing. Here was a man whose word was his
bond, and he was visibly being impelled by the Holy Spirit to change his mind in the matter of Brenda’s baptism. However, he was unused to relenting, and needed a little time to adjust his comfort zone to a new place, justify his transformation, and save face at the same time. He leaned forward and looked right into my eyes, then addressed me in an almost accusing tone.

“You are not an American!”

I looked right back at him, sensing the sea change that was overtaking him, and needing to be gentle with him.

“No, Mr Bloomfield, I am a Yorkshireman.”

My answer gave him just what he needed to shift his ground and let Brenda become a member of the Church. Something less than an actual smile played on his still firm, but now less rigid, lips as he spoke the words that signalled his acquiescence.

“Well, all I can say is that it seems a pity to have said ‘no’ for so long to so many Americans only to have to say ‘yes’ to a Yorkshire man!”

The spell was broken! Mike and I gripped a hand each and shook them with warm vigour, expressing our assurances that he had not only done a good and wise thing, but, more importantly, that he had done a great one, and that it was something he would never have cause to regret.

“I hope so!” he said, emphatically, as he withdrew, closing the door after him. We skipped back to the chapel to make
arrangements for a long overdue baptism for a faithful daughter of Father Bloomfield, who was also a faithful daughter of her Father in Heaven, the Father who heard and answered our prayer by softening the heart of her good earthly parent.

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