My Life in Zion

The life and views of a Latter-day Saint in the 21st Century…

He Sought a Sign

Anyone who knows me knows of my great love for church history. So having came upon this story twice recently, I have decided to share it as a lesson for those who would “seek signs”.

The 1890’s were in interesting time to be serving as a Mormon missionary in the state of Tennessee. Missionaries in those days not only traveled without purse or script, depending upon the kindness of strangers for food and shelter, but were also often assualted by large mobs in the Bible Belt who believed Mormons were of the devil. It was not uncommon for missionaries to be beaten, tarred and feathered, driven out of communities with shotguns in hand, or even worse.

On one such occasion Elder Willard Bean of Utah, who had been a professional boxer before his service to the south, and his missionary companion were accosted by a public mob during their usual daily street preaching. As the mob surrounded the two young Mormons, threatening and cursing them for their “evil deeds”, the leader of the mob yelled at the young preachers and demanded a sign.

“Show us a sign, you Mormon boys. We want to see a sign right now.”

“I’ll be happy to oblige you with a sign,” teased Elder Bean, “but my companion hasn’t been out very long and he’s not used to such things. Would it be all right if we sent him down the road a piece and then I would be happy to give you a sign.”

The leader of the mob accepted the senior missionary’s proposition with the nod of his head, and Elder Bean motioned to his companion to start down the road. Elder Bean then watched until his companion had about a quarter-mile headstart and then turned to the leader of the mob.

“Here is the sign that I am going to give you,” said the daring missionary as he quickly moved towards his rival at the head of the mob. “I will strike you blind.”

Elder Willard Bean then immediately sent a lightning left jab to the bully’s eye, followed with a crushing right across to his other eye. As the surprised ruffian reeled backward, landing hard on the ground, Willard took off running for all he was worth. As he approached his companion, he began to holler, “Run, Elder run! Run for your life!”

And they did.

And one gentleman learned his lesson about seeking for a sign.

P.S. If you share this with any Young Men from your ward or branch, I cannot be held responsible for what they might do with such a story. So share with caution!

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