|A typical Samoan hut in a typical Samoan village|
Some years ago Albert Peters told of the experience he and his companion had of a man being born again. One day they went to the hut of Atiati in the village of Sasina in Samoa. There they found an unshaven, unkempt, misshapen man lying on a bed. He asked them to come in and introduce themselves. He was pleased to know they were missionaries and wanted to hear their message. They presented the first discussion, bore witness to him, and then left. As they walked away, they discussed Atiati’s condition; he had had polio 22 years before that had left him without the use of his arms or legs, so how could he ever be baptized, being so completely disabled?
When they visited their new friend the next day, they were unprepared for the change in Atiati. He was bright and clean-shaven; even his bedding had been changed. “Today,” he said, “I begin to live again, because yesterday my prayers were answered and you [came] to me. … I have waited for more than twenty years for someone to come and tell me that they have the true gospel of Christ.”
For several weeks the two missionaries taught this sincere, intelligent man the principles of the gospel, and he received a strong witness of the truth and the need for baptism. He asked them to fast with him so that he would have the strength to go down into the water and be baptized. The nearest baptismal font was eight miles away. So they carried him to their car, drove him to the chapel, and set him on a bench. Their district leader opened the service by bearing a strong testimony about the sacred ordinance of baptism. Then Elder Peters and his companion picked up Atiati and carried him to the font. As they did so, Atiati said, “Please, put me down.” They hesitated, and he said again, “Put me down.”
As they stood in some confusion, Atiati smiled and exclaimed: “This is the most important event in my life. I know without a doubt in my mind that this is the only way to eternal salvation. I will not be carried to my salvation!” So they lowered Atiati to the ground. After a huge effort, he managed to pull himself up. The man who had lain 20 years without moving was now standing. Slowly, one shaky step at a time, Atiati went down the steps and into the water, where the astonished missionary took him by the hand and baptized him. He then asked to be carried from the font to the chapel, where he was confirmed a member of the Church.
Atiati continued to progress so that he gained the ability to walk only by a cane. He told Elder Peters that he knew that he would be able to walk on the morning of his baptism. He said, “Since faith can move a stubborn mountain, I had no doubt in my mind that it would mend these limbs of mine.” 9 I believe we can say that Atiati was truly born again!Image credit: http://shutesamoareunion.files.wordpress.com/