'Promise and potential of a new beginning'

As a new millennium dawns, people the world over will go through the familiar act of taking stock of their lives and accomplishments. Each will consider goals of the past and contemplate ones once made, but soon forgotten.

Each Sabbath, a new spiritual life dawns for each of us as we are invited to the sacrament table to renew baptismal covenants and take "spiritual stock" of our standing in the Lord's kingdom.

The words of the sacrament prayer remind us of our spiritual identity, for we have promised to take upon ourselves the name of the Son and follow Him.

The natural progression of this devotion creates in many an enthusiasm to share the blessings of the gospel and be a Christlike example.

One who takes Christ's name upon himself and has been a pattern to many is Richard J. DeVries of the Ann Arbor Michigan Stake. His Christlike example extends into the lives of both investigators and Church members. He is representative of many members throughout the Church whose example strengthens others.

Brother DeVries emulates the words of Paul, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth." (Rom. 1:16.) "Nothing fills your heart more than watching light come into someone's eyes," said Brother DeVries. "It is pure joy."

Doug and Theresa Carrington were touched by Brother DeVries and his family's loving acceptance when invited into their home for the missionary discussions. Now members of the Broomfield 3rd Ward, Boulder Colorado Stake, the Carringtons still hold a special place in their hearts for Brother DeVries and his family.

"Through Brother DeVries I learned the spiritual nature and power of the priesthood," said Brother Carrington. "At the time I was taking the missionary discussions without my wife, which had caused some distance between us. Brother DeVries gave me my first blessing with the promise that my wife's heart would soften and she would accept the gospel. It all came to pass!"

Sister Carrington recalls being issued the challenge to quit smoking. "I really struggled with this principle, so Brother DeVries gave me a blessing and within a few days I had quit and have never looked back," said Sister Carrington. "They understood what I was going through which meant so much to me in the end."

Brother DeVries' example is also felt among the members of his home ward.

New convert and friend LeRoy Johnson of the Ypsilanti (Michigan) Ward considers Brother DeVries' model and spiritual presence in his life a great blessing. "There are many fine people for me to follow, yet Brother DeVries has been a constant support to me and has shown what is important as I learn more about the Church.

Family friend, Sheryl Hypes, also a member of the Ypsilanti Ward, looks to Brother DeVries and his family for guidance. "He makes the gospel work in his life, especially when it comes to his family. They come first and it shows," said Sister Hypes. "Being a single mother, I look to his family as a pattern in raising my own son."

Brother DeVries is second counselor in the Ann Arbor Michigan Stake presidency. He credits other's spiritual standards as ones he learned from. "I'll be the first to say my wife is the remarkable example," he said with admiration.

For Brother DeVries, the joy which comes from serving others and being an example is the true sweetness of the gospel.

For him, it is a matter of following the words of James, "But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves." (James 1:22.)

Through the sacrament, the promise and potential of a new beginning is offered to each of us. By following the example of our Lord and taking the name of the Son upon us we become doers of the word; thus furthering our reach and influence in the lives of others in the coming years and into the eternities.

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