Many couples struggle to have a family. What is so easy for other people seems almost impossible for them. So it was with Sandile Makasi’s mother. For over a year after she married, she had tried to have a child, but no baby came. Even though she was not religious, perhaps she had heard the story of Samuel from the Book of Samuel in the Bible. In that story, Hannah, Samuel’s mother, could have no children. After many years, she finally prayed to the Lord, saying, “O Lord of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life.” Sandile’s mother decided to follow Hannah’s example and pray, “If You will give me a child, I will offer the child to You.” Then the miracle happened, and Sandile was born. Sandile’s mother secreted her promise in her heart and never told anyone of her covenant with the Lord.
As Sandile remembers, “In my family we were not really religious at all—never. We only prayed at Christmas. The seed of faith I received came from my great-grandmother, who was a devout Christian and encouraged us to pray. But I never really believed in God.”
Then, when Sandile was 16 years old, he ran across the missionaries and began to take the lessons. The missionaries were transferred, but Sandile never forgot about the gospel. The following year, he saw another pair of missionaries and approached them. “Can you come and teach me?” he asked. “At first, I just skimmed the Book of Mormon and read the headings. But then I began feeling something and realized that God is real. I got a testimony of Jesus Christ and the plan of salvation. I had struggled for a long time trying to find meaning in my life, and the gospel had the answers I had been seeking.”
After Sandile and his cousin were baptized, they introduced the gospel to four friends, and they became the core of the young men in their branch. “I was so involved in the work that I attended daily seminary and a group family home evening with the seminary students. I taught with the missionaries several times a week. I knew the lessons, and I knew I wanted to be a missionary. After I finished high school, I told my mom I wanted to go on a mission, but she said, ‘No.’
“For the next year, as I attended college, I prayed that the Lord would soften my mother’s heart, and He did. A friend of my mom convinced her to let me serve. But it was when she and I met with the stake president for my setting apart that she revealed her covenant with the Lord. She had never told me that she had dedicated me to God, though my mission call felt like a direct fulfilment of her promise. She wanted a child and had prayed for a child. She had promised if she could have a child she would offer it to the Lord. And that’s what she did. It was such a touching experience for me, hearing her account for the first time.”
Since his mission, Sandile has continued to dedicate his life to the Lord. Even when life got tough, he stayed faithful. He couldn’t find work, so he was living in a rat-infested home and eating only one meal a day as he searched for a job. “I knew the Lord would bless me because I was fulfilling my end of the bargain. He would provide a way. I paid tithing and stayed positive and pushed on looking for work.”
Eventually Sandile got a good job, moved to a more comfortable home, met his future wife at Institute, and was put in the bishopric. “Over the years my faith has grown step by step. I have learned that the gospel is simple. It’s all about the simple things.”
Even though Sandile’s mother dedicated him to the Lord at birth, he also had to dedicate himself to serving the Lord and keeping His commandments to receive the full blessings of that important covenant, a covenant that was so similar to the one the mother of Samuel of old made with God.