"Cast they burden upon the Lord, and He shall
sustain thee; . . . . . ." (Psalms 55:22)
Many and varied are the experiences of those who accept the Gospel in foreign lands. Striking, indeed, are the wonderful testimonies of the Gospel, and the marvelous manifestations of the power of God as witnessed in these experiences.
These experiences are sometimes of so remarkable a character as to appear dubious to those who are inclined to be skeptical regarding spiritual manifestations. This is not in the least surprising when we remember that even the Apostles of Christ, on the day of Pentecost, were accused of being "drunken with new wine" when the power of God was so wonderfully manifest in their midst upon that solemn occasion.
The following narrative of the experiences of Niels Pederson while in his native land of Norway are written as they were told by Brother Pederson to his family upon many occasions during his lifetime.
For the benefit of those who may not have known Brother Pederson, I will begin this narrative by stating that Brother Pederson was born in the province of Sorum, on 4 March 1835. His parents were Peder Hansen and Helena Larsen. They were most devout members of the Lutheran Church and although their son, Niels, developed strong religious traits, he was not favorably impressed with the doctrines of that organization.
Brother Pederson served his apprenticeship as a mason, and was working in Christiania (later Oslo) when he first heard the Gospel message. The clear ring in this wonderful message had carried conviction to his heart, and on 15 April 1856, he was baptized by Elder L. Olsen.
The Gospel brought such cheer and consolation to his soul that he left his work and immediately hastened to his home to convey the "glad tidings" to his parents, thinking that they, too, would rejoice with him in the wonderful new-found truth. Imagine his surprise when his parents who had been so kind and considerate of him, and whom he so dearly loved, now turned a deaf ear to his pleadings, when they learned that the message he brought to them was what the world had pleased to call "Mormonism." With bitter words of scorn and derision, they turned him from their door. Sad and sick at heart, he returned to his work, disappointed, but not disheartened, and with his faith and testimony still unshaken.
While following his trade in the city, Brother Pederson applied himself diligently in the study of the Gospel, and assisted the Elders in spreading the Gospel truths, and in the comforting of the Saints. A short time after his baptism, he received the Priesthood and was called to labor as a local missionary in his native land.
At this time, in the city of Christiania and the immediate vicinity, prejudice ran high and the only reference made to the Latter-Day Saints was that which people usually heard coming from their enemies, such information being gleaned from literature that garbled and misrepresented the truth. Under such conditions, he testified on every hand of the restored Gospel and through simple faith and sincere humility much power was given him to the confounding of the wise and the learned, and to the rebuking of evil spirits.
Upon one occasion the power of the Lord was manifest in a very remarkable manner in the rebuking of the adversary in a house which was being used as a meeting place for the Saints and investigators. The facts of the incident as related by Brother Pederson, as I remember them follows:
A large, vacant house had been secured in which religious services were held. These services were well attended by both Saints and investigators and were marked by a rich out-pouring of the Holy Spirit. After services had been held there for some time, and investigators increased, Satan began with increased efforts in an endeavor to thwart the work of the Lord. During services loud rappings and mysterious noises began to be heard in various parts of the building. These continued to increase at each meeting until people began to stay away through fear. During one of the services, the rappings and noises became so loud and so constant as to interfere very materially with the services. Brother Pederson and his companion felt that something must be done to put a stop to the power of Satan or he would succeed in breaking up and destroying the work of the Lord.
After requesting the Saints assembled to remain quietly inside the building, and to exercise their faith for the rebuking of the adversary, Brother Pederson and his companion left the building and encircled it, one going in one direction around the house and the other in the opposite direction. When they met at the rear of the building, they offered up a prayer to the Lord, asking for the power that they might be able to stay the work of the evil one.. Brother Pederson then rebuked the adversary and in the name of the Lord, Jesus Christ, commanded him to leave the building and the meeting of the Saints. Recognizing the power of God through His Priesthood, Satan obeyed the command, and the rappings and mysterious noises were never heard in the building while the Saints continued to use it as a house of worship.
Shortly after this Brother Pederson and his companion were brought before a magistrate and were ordered to stop preaching and baptizing under threat of a fine and imprisonment, should they be found doing so. Undaunted and feeling that they "ought to obey God rather than man" these humble servants of the Master labored incessantly for the spreading of the truth and for the strengthening of the Saints in their trying hours, Six different times they were brought before the magistrate for disregarding his orders.
The sixth time they were brought into court the magistrate became very indignant. Recognizing Brother Pederson to be the senior Elder, upon him he attached the blame for the utter disregard of the Court's orders. The magistrate now ordered Brother Pederson placed in chains and confined to a dungeon on "black bread" and water for a period of ten days. Accordingly, chains were locked tightly around his wrists and ankles, which were so heavy that it was with much difficulty that he could move about. So heavy were the chains, and so tightly were they locked about his limbs, that they ate into his flesh causing intense pain and suffering.
After enduring the suffering for several days, Brother Pederson became so weak that he could scarcely move. In his cell, he called humbly upon the Lord for aid in bearing his pain and his prayers were immediately answered by the appearance of a heavenly personage, who loosened the chains and blessed him that he might be able to stand through this trying ordeal.
On the tenth day the jailer came to release him from his bonds, to give him his liberty again. The jailer expressed surprise in finding Brother Pederson so well, and in such excellent spirits, as ten days confinement in chains in such a dark, damp dungeon at this one in which he was confined, together with the food given him to eat, was enough to crush the spirits and undermine the health of the most robust individual.
As Brother Pederson walked from the cell, he carried with him a small bundle, tied in his handkerchief. The contents of this bundle the jailer demanded to see, for Brother Pederson took nothing with him into the cell. Wrapped in consternation and shaking with fright, the jailer waited while Brother Pederson untied the hankerchief and displayed the "black bread" which had been given him to eat. When the jailer had recovered enough from the shock, he exclaimed, "My God! Man, what have you lived on?" Brother Pederson calmly replied, quoting the words of the Savior, " 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth from the mouth of God.' I have been sustained by the power of God." After much debating, Brother Pederson was allowed to take the bread with him. This he kept for some time as a testimony of the power of the Lord.
The above is the testimony of an honest man, who adhered to his testimony until the day of his death, which occurred in Saint David, Arizona, on 25 April 1916. And added to his testimony, is that of a loving daughter,
Rebecca Pederson Lofgreen.
(The above was written by Edward Theodore Lofgreen as related by his wife, Rebecca Pederson Lofgreen.)