Monday, March 28, 2016

David White Rogers

I had a powerful spiritual experience over the holidays visiting where my 4th great grandfather lived when first moving to NYC in the 1830s where he and my grandmother joined the LDS church. Their miraculous and powerful story still blows me away every time (a bit lengthy but I promise it is worth the read!):
Years before my grandmother, Martha Collins Rogers, had a dream wherein two men were knocking on her door, interrupting her doing her laundry, asking if her husband was home and declaring that they had a very important message for her family. My grandfather, David White Rogers, (a direct descendant of Reverend John Rogers - Bible translator and publisher of the Matthew Bible - the main precursor of the King James Bible - and subsequently burned at the stake as the first Protestant martyr of Queen (Bloody) Mary I) had similarly had a dream wherein he saw a vast destruction take place on the American continent. The angel in his dream told him he would learn more about this when he was in his 50th year. In 1837 Parley P. Pratt was serving as a missionary in New York City. On a Sunday while returning home from church my grandfather overheard Pratt preaching, and after hearing that Pratt was going to leave NYC after meeting no success after 6 months of proselyting invited the elders to his home to teach his family. They arrived at the Rogers home the following afternoon and knocked on the door, interrupting my grandmother's laundry washing. Upon opening the door she immediately recognized both of their faces from her dream. She understandably accepted their message right away and my grandfather accepted their message after reading in the Book of Mormon about the destruction that occurred on the American continent after the Savior's crucifixion, recognizing it as the destruction he had witnessed in the dream, and having a revelation wherein "the room was a blaze of light as the noon day sun. I saw Joseph Smith sitting at a stand in the corner of the room with a Book of Mormon in his hand." They were baptized in NYC's East River on December 19, 1837.

Immediately after joining the saints in Quincy, Illinois my grandfather was asked to travel to Missouri to sell Church real estate to help relocate the Saints so rudely displaced by the thugs there. He went directly to Liberty Jail to get approval from the Prophet Joseph Smith of the lands to be disposed of.

After securing the Prophet's approval he journeyed to Independence and was there met by a mob of 300 unruly men, demanding that he forfeit the property and the money and leave the county before dark or be killed. My grandfather replied, “You have pronounced sentence upon me. Can I be allowed the privilege granted to condemned criminals in courts of law? They are asked if they have a cause to show why the sentence of the law should not be executed upon them.” Some men in the posse yelled, “Let him speak! Let him speak!” He then said the following:

"A few years ago, the God of Israel sent a few of his servants to settle in Jackson County. They came forth, and in conformity with the laws of the United States and the State of Missouri, bought up some 20,000 acres upon which they settled some 1,500 souls in the space of three years, at which time the people of the county arose enmasse and drove those servants of God from their homes and from the county, in violation of all law. Those servants of God then settled in other counties, and subsequently were driven from the state, under the exterminating order of Governor Boggs. Among those servants of God there are some very old, some crippled, some sick, some widows, and many orphan children, who are destitute of means to convey themselves out of the state. And the Lord will not that they should be exterminated, therefore, the God of Israel has ordered that the lands from which his servants were first driven, shall be sold, and the means used in helping those helpless ones out of the state. And I am here to perform that business, and in the name of Israel's God, and by His powers, I shall accomplish it. Only by your committing willful cold-blooded murder can I be prevented." At this point, he unbuttoned his coat and vest, bared his chest, and said: "If anyone is prepared for that, now is the best time you can ever have, in the blaze of this beautiful morning sun and in the presence of this large concourse of witnesses, that the honor and glory of the deed may descend to the latest posterity. That is all I wish to say." Not a word issued from the lips of any member of the crowd; one by one the people left until my grandfather stood alone. Even his travel companion had disappeared. 

My grandfather gave everything he had to the building up of the kingdom of God - upon learning that Mary Fielding Smith, in a spirit of humble obedience in following the Quorum of the 12, had the desire but not the means to travel West with the Saints he gave her his oxen - yes, THOSE oxen that were raised from the dead - to make the journey to Utah.

While I am not sure if my grandfather's brashness came as a result of his being a New Yorker or solely on the strength of his undeniable and unshakable testimony, I believe that we very well may be asked to exhibit such faith as this in these trying final days before the Second Coming of the Savior of the World. I too have an unshakable testimony of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Prophet Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon that I never can or will deny. As I stood on this hallowed spot in the middle of the financial district surrounded by dozens of tourists wielding selfie sticks I bowed my head and said a silent but fervent prayer, thanking my Father in Heaven for the faith, dedication, and sacrifice that was exhibited by my ancestors so many years ago for my benefit. It is said that we stand on the shoulders of giants - that is literally the case for me.


Blogger leilani said...

I'm all tingly! What an amazing story. I sometimes feel difficulty enduring, as I'm sure many do, and these stories help remind one that you're not alone. I have absolutely no doubt and never will, despite life, whatsoever in my Saviour and Heavenly Father, their love for me, and the good news of the Gospel; however, I do feel distant and treading water sometimes. I am sure it is all me. I do my best. Some days I could do better. But I'm moving forward and that's the important part! I'm grateful for these inspiring stories of courageous giants and their reminder to stand tall.

Though I know we're here now for a reason and have our own part to play in this great drama, do you ever wonder what it would be like if we could have been there? If we could have done what they did? Would it have been "easier"? lol Maybe they're saying the same about us! :)

10:32 AM  

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