The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Shall Never Be Moved
The Story of T. T. Hinderks
Who Was Given Divine Assurance
That the RLDS Church Would Not Fail
By Walter H. Cryer
Walter Cryer's introduction:
We all love to recount the angel's visit to Brother Joseph, and so should we esteem of equal value the rich experiences of those noble men of God who followed in his footsteps.
The biography of Elder T. T. Hinderks will undoubtedly be of inestimable value to many good souls within the Church, and, I trust, the means of bringing many without to a closer investigation of the latter-day message.
For this purpose is the ensuing sketch prepared, and may God, in His benign way, add His blessing so that the lesson portrayed in the life of our brother may indeed resound to the glory of Zion.
It was my good fortune to become intimately associated with a venerable old brother in Israel, Elder T. T. Hinderks, father of the Maple Grove (Stewartsville) Branch. As we sat talking together, my spiritual insight saw not the age-worn frame of my brother, but a character likened unto the Man of Galilee, who so loved the world that he gave his life in service.
The modest demeanor of the grand old man enamored me, when I stated the purpose of my mission. A wistful look came into his eyes as he said, "I have had some glorious experiences in the gospel, and if you think they would help others, I will do my best to recount them."
|High Priest Temme T. Hinderks, who was assured that the Church would never fail|
I was born in east Friesland, Germany, in the year 1855. My parents were God-fearing people and members of the Baptist Church.
In the spring of 1866 we loaded up and emigrated to America. Our objective was Burlington, Iowa. We located at Danville, about twelve miles from Burlington, some time in March. At Danville we settled down on a small farm. Our beginning was quite humble. We were strangers among a strange people and could not speak the English language.
In 1871, when I was sixteen years of age, I joined the Baptist Church. Just at this time I had quite an unusual experience. The Baptist people advocated that they believed God forgave sins and all would be well. That puzzled me, and I could hardly believe it. Although but a boy, I prayed much, so I asked the Lord to send an angel to tell me if my sins were forgiven. I was then a farmer boy, busy plowing in the field, and when I got to a place where no one could see me but God, I would go on my knees and plead for forgiveness and mercy.
One day after dinner I had a pleasant experience, and I have reason to believe that it was the Spirit of God that came over me in peace—heavenly peace—permeating the soul so that I could not help but sing and rejoice in God and Christ, for I really believed my sins were pardoned.
In 1872 I heard that Mormons (the term "Mormon" was used generally in the early days to also include the RLDS Church and its members) had come to Burlington, in charge of Elders J. R. Lambert and John Lake, of the Quorum of Twelve.
One Sunday my brother Casper came over from Burlington and said he had heard Elders Lambert and Lake preach, and they had given him some tracts.
I could read English, so I took the tracts upstairs, and before I began to investigate I, childlike, went to God upon my knees and asked him for sufficient wisdom and light to discern between truth and error, and I had a pencil and tablet and was going to mark the errors. As I read, it just seemed as though the scales fell from my eyes.... I was convinced that the gospel the Mormons were advocating was true.
Something kept prompting me to go... There was an old Baptist lady [Mrs. Hovenga] who was also interested ... and she asked her husband to take her to hear them.
The Mormons were going to have a prayer meeting that afternoon in a private house. We attended that meeting. Brother John Bauer had charge. Next to me sat a young married man whom I knew, as he had previously been a Baptist but had recently joined the [Reorganized] Church of Latter Day Saints. His name was Otto, and he was considered a fine fellow.
After the customary opening remarks had been made, the meeting was given over to the Saints. A few prayers had been offered when this man Otto arose. He was trembling all over, and I thought that possibly he was worked up because I was there. Soon he started to speak in an unknown tongue. This was the first time I had heard anyone speak in an unknown tongue.
While this young man was speaking in this strange tongue, I had a peculiar experience. I was seated directly against the wall, and you may imagine how surprised I was to hear a voice at the back of me say, 'This is my Spirit, and my servant is speaking under the influence of my power."
This was all new to me. I was sitting against the wall, so I could not see anyone [behind me], but the voice was very distinct and plain. It came with such conviction that I had no room for doubt.
On the twenty-fourth day of November 1872, Mrs. Hovenga and I both went to Burlington and were baptized. A wonderful change came into my life that day.
Prejudice was very high against the Mormons in this part of the country at this time. Danville was populated mostly with Baptists, and Sister Hovenga and I were the only Latter Day Saints there.
Shortly after our baptism, Sister Hovenga's husband came into the Church.
The folks made all kinds of fun of me because I went to the two old people's home and held prayer meetings with them. Up to this time I had never prayed in public, and as I considered my makeup was not that way, I listened to their prayers.
One night we three met together after I had been in the Church several months, and old Brother Hovenga says to me, "Brother Temme, won't you pray for us tonight? We would like to hear you utter a short prayer." The words of our Master came to me then, "Wherever two or three meet in my name, there will I deign to be." I thought I could not pray openly, but finally, to please these old people whom I loved and respected, I made an effort, and that is where I received one of my first endowments.
While upon my knees praying, it seemed as if the very heavens opened, and light came upon me. My tongue was loosened. When I had finished, the old folks said that it was the most wonderful prayer they had ever listened to.
This gave me courage, and was quite a testimony to me that God was, and that the Church I had joined was indeed His Church, because His promise was that whosoever accepted His doctrine and obeyed it should know for himself.
We went to Burlington on Sunday and did not miss a meeting. On one of these occasions the spirit of prophecy rested upon Elder John Bauer, and turning to me he said, "The Lord has called you to the office of teacher, that you might hold prayer meetings in the country for the benefit of the few."
|Apostle John H. Lake, who taught the gospel to T. T. Hinderks and ordained him.|
I was ordained to the office of teacher in the year 1874 by Elders John H. Lake and John Bauer. I was somewhat reluctant to accept this responsibility, as I did not feel worthy; but I thought, Well, this is a small office, so maybe the Lord will give me strength. As the elders placed their hands upon my head to ordain me, the Spirit of God rested upon Brother Bauer so much that he trembled, and he began to speak in prophecy, outlining my life's work. He stated that I should hold places of much responsibility in the Church before my work was finished. This rested heavily upon me, and I thought, O Lord, is it possible that I, a poor worm of the dust, can ever occupy along these lines? But the prophecy has since been fulfilled to the very letter.
Prejudice grew more bitter among the Baptists, as more members were taken from their church.
One weekday evening we had a prayer meeting at the home of old Brother and Sister Hovenga. I opened the meeting. Sometimes I would read a part of a chapter and then make a few comments on it, and then we would sing and pray and testify. Now the Baptist people had not, up to this time, attended any of our meetings; but just as I got ready to open this meeting, there came rushing in five or six of the Baptist people, and one stranger whom I did not know.
I was wonderfully surprised to see them come into the prayer meeting. They sat down; the stranger sat opposite me, and I noticed he was watching my every movement. During the meeting we got upon our knees, but the Baptist people kept their seats. After the prayer we sang another hymn. Then Sister Hinderks arose and spoke in an unknown tongue. I felt the power of the Spirit of God that was there, so I prayed within myself and said, "Lord, give her also the interpretation of that tongue." It was quite a lengthy tongue, and when she got through the Spirit of God rested upon me so that I gave the interpretation of that tongue in German to the people present. This was my first experience in interpreting an unknown tongue.
As soon as the meeting was over, I expected to shake hands with the Baptist people and the stranger and invite them back, but they rushed out as if possessed, and did not say a word.
(The reader should keep this particular experience in mind, for later in the narrative important reference will be made to it.)
In the early part of 1876, during one of our weeknight prayer services at the home of old Brother and Sister Hovenga, I was blessed with the spirit of prophecy, the Lord instructing the few saints at Danville to sell their property and move to the land of Zion.
After the meeting was over, the saints gathered around me, asking me to explain the full meaning of the message that had been given. Up to this time I had never seen a Book of Mormon or Doctrine and Covenants and did not know where the land of Zion was located. At first I thought the Lord intended that we should move to Palestine, where the New Jerusalem was to be, and it worried me for awhile. Then the thought came to me to write to Brother Joseph, the prophet, who was at Plano, Illinois, at that time. This I did, setting out the prophecy word for word, as near as I could recall. In time I received a nice letter from him, stating that it was the Lord's wish that we move towards the land of Zion. He suggested that we move to Stewartsville, Missouri, as he had made a survey of the land there and was anxious to see a number of saints locate in that part of the country.
Acting in harmony with the advice given us by Brother Joseph, we came out here [Stewartsville] in the fall of 1876 and purchased property, as that part of Missouri suited us.
There were a number of German saints located in this part of the country when we moved here. They were holding services in a little house at a little distance due east of the present location of the Maple Grove Church.
In the spring of 1877 we organized the German DeKalb Branch. The organization was effected on Wednesday, April 25, with six members present, by Apostle T. W. Smith and Elder James Kemp. At this meeting I was called and ordained to the office of priest, and my brother Henry to the office of teacher. The Lord stated through the Spirit of prophecy that if we lived faithfully, He would bring in people from other directions, and that the branch would grow and be greatly blessed.
Shortly after the branch was organized, a large number of Lutherans, Methodists, and Baptists attended our services regularly, and it was not long before they were baptized. So our numbers increased steadily, in harmony with the prophecy given.
These meetings were conducted in German. One Sunday afternoon I walked from my home to the schoolhouse, feeling very blue. My mind was entirely blank, and I had no subject ready. When I got there in time for the services to begin, I had no one to open the meeting for me. There was no trouble in getting the American brethren to assist, but everything had to be done in German that day. So the whole burden fell upon me. In my discouragement I prayed, "O Lord, you know my needs. I am here to represent you, and I depend upon your mercy." While I was whispering this prayer, the time came to open the meeting.
There was a large crowd present that day. After the opening hymn I offered the prayer, and I prayed earnestly to God to bless us that day. After singing another hymn, I arose to lay out the line of thought I had decided to discuss, when all at once such a pleasant, sweet feeling came over me that it seemed to lift me from my feet for the time being. When I began to talk, new thoughts came to my mind, and the Spirit of God rested upon me in much power and liberty. Never before had I been blessed in my preaching to such a degree.
A little after I had commenced preaching, I noticed that a middle-aged lady came in and sat towards the rear of the congregation. After the meeting this lady came to me and said, "I wonder who that person was standing at your side in the stand? He was a stranger to me, and as soon as you finished that wonderful sermon he disappeared." With thankfulness in my heart I said, "Surely the Lord has sent an angel to help me in my time of need." Tears came into the lady's eyes, and she said, "Yes, that is true. I want to be baptized." I baptized her that evening.
One Sunday afternoon, during a prayer meeting, a prophecy was directed to me that I should go back to Danville and preach the gospel, as there was a special work for me to do at that place.
To me that prophecy looked as dark as midnight. I could not understand it, knowing that the people there were prejudiced. I hurried out of the meeting and sought seclusion, saying to myself, That cannot be just right. While I was thus meditating, the Spirit of God said to me, "I, the Lord, have a people there, and they will obey my gospel."
When I reached home my wife told me that she had received evidence that the prophecy was true, and she appeared to have much confidence in it.
So I decided to take the Lord at his word. I had no light myself, and it looked dark to me, as the people would not come near us while we were there before.
We were handicapped financially, and I had to borrow the money for railroad fare. I took the midnight train to Danville, but I did not sleep, as I was wondering where I would get an opportunity to preach, as the people there had shunned us before.
When I got off the train, I started out on foot to a house some five miles north of Danville to some people I knew, and where I thought I could stay. When I had walked about three quarters of a mile, I saw a man coming towards me. The closer I got to him, the more I wondered who he could be. When we got near enough to distinguish each other, he stopped and addressed me, saying, "Well, are you just in fresh from Missouri?" After telling him that I was, he asked if it was my intention to do any preaching in Danville. I told him I would like to if I could find a suitable place. "Well," he said, "you can use my house to hold services in."
This man was one of the five Baptists who had come to the prayer meeting we held some years before in the home of old Brother and Sister Hovenga, and he was one of the most bitterly prejudiced in Danville. He had threatened to drive the "Mormons" into the Mississippi River if they made any converts.
It was a shock to me when he told me I could use his house for preaching purposes. He also offered to announce throughout the neighborhood that services would be held the following night.
At half past seven I was greatly surprised to find the house full of Baptists. I preached to them and made an appointment for the following night.
The next day I had a visit with my host, a Mr. Hamann, and then he told me about the prayer meeting we held several years before when the five Baptists and a stranger came rushing in. I inquired after the stranger, and he told me that he was a young man just over from Hamburg, Germ any, who had been educated in many different languages. The Baptists had taken him to the prayer meeting, as they had heard that the Latter Day Saints spoke in unknown tongues and they thought they would be able to prove by this educated German that we were frauds.
The young man's name was Elbert Maine. After the meeting the Baptists hurried out and surrounded him, asking, "Did you understand anything that lady said who pretended to speak in an unknown tongue?" Mr. Maine thought a little while; then he said, "I do not know these people, nor do I believe there is a God or a Devil, as I am an infidel of the worst kind. But if this young lady who spoke in tongues, and the young man who gave the interpretation in German, know nothing of the Hebrew language, then there is a power present I cannot understand. The interpretation was given word for word."
This impressed old Mr. Hamann, for he went on to say, 'That set me studying, and I said to myself, 'Is it possible that we are fighting against God and His truth?' From that time on I had a desire, when you moved away, that you should come back so that I might hear the gospel in its fullness."
The Lord fulfilled the prophecy to the letter, for I baptized this man and his wife and many others from the congregation of the Baptist Church.
|Apostle Jason Briggs, whose adverse statements caused Brother Hinderks to doubt and pray—which resulted in this receiving the spiritual dream.|
In 1884 General Conference was held in Stewartsville. (Joseph Smith III described this stormy conference in his memoirs, found in The Saints' Herald, January 28, 1936, page 210.) Among other leading men of the Church present at this conference was Apostle Jason W. Briggs. He came over to my house several times and told me about some of the conditions in Nauvoo.
He got me to doubting a little about some of the things of the Reorganization, and I got to the point where I thought I would make it a subject of prayer, for the Lord knew I wanted to do right and be with the right people.
Sometime after the conference was over, I had the following dream:
I was at the Maple Grove Church and was to preach there at the eleven o'clock hour. While I was on the platform, getting ready to open the meeting, the door on the east side opened, and Brother Joseph [Smith III] came in accompanied by another man, a stranger to me. This was a pleasant-looking man, about middle age. I walked up to the prophet and said, "Well, Brother Joseph, I am glad you have come; you are just in time to give us a good sermon. We are all glad to see you." I had been associated with Brother Joseph quite a good deal, and knew he lost no time in introducing his friends to each other, but this stranger stood behind him and Joseph did not say a word about him. I thought this strange, and as the prophet walked down the aisle, shaking hands with different ones, I went up to the stranger and said, "I guess I will have to make myself acquainted with you. T. T. Hinderks is my name." The stranger looked at me and said pleasantly, "My name is Wonderful."
This struck me very forcibly, and I mused, "Wonderful. Who can this man be?" He followed Brother Joseph down the aisle, and when they got to the front of the building He raised His right hand and laid it on Joseph's shoulder. Then He turned to me and said, "This is the true Prophet of God." He continued, "Do you see that over there?" pointing on the east side of our building, where there was a rock about three quarters of a foot square. The rock was rough in places, but in the center of the rock there was resting a piece of pure white marble, a square piece placed in the solid rock. He asked, "Do you see that?" I said, "Yes, sir." Then He said, "That piece of white marble resting in that head of rock is the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. It shall never be moved."
I was then president of the branch, and this personage, "Wonderful," spoke to me regarding some duties He wanted me to attend to, but I cannot remember them now.
When He finished speaking I awoke, but that dream or vision is just as plain to me this morning as it was when I had it that night. It was an answer to my prayer, and convinced me that I was with the true Church.
For some fifteen years, in addition to his pastoral responsibilities of the German DeKalb Branch, Brother Hinderks was appointed and worked efficiently as president of the Far West District. Later he was ordained to the office of high priest, and still later he for many years served as a member of the Standing High Council of the Church, a position calling for men of much wisdom and high integrity.
Temme T. Hinderks passed from this earthly realm on the 14th day of January 1928, at the age of seventy-two years.
"How beautiful it is for a man to die on the walls of Zion! To be called like a watch-worn and weary sentinel, to put his armor off and rest in heaven."
Thus we are permitted to see that throughout the life of Elder T. T. Hinderks the Christ Spirit emanated. In his ministrations as a disciple of our Lord and Savior, he was ever humble and faithful. Though at times perplexed because of existing conditions, not once did he forsake the path of duty, the road which led to the beautiful city he had once seen in company with a heavenly messenger.
[The above article is an excerpt from the "Memoirs of T. T. Hinderks," which were compiled by Walter H. Cryer. It is taken from Zion's Ensign, February 2,1928, pp.67–72; February 9, 1928, pp. 87–91; and February 16, 1928, pp. 105–109.]