Warner Molema is a man of valour, having served as a Bishop, a Stake President, and the Church History Advisor for the Africa Southeast Area, despite many health challenges.
Warner remembers having epileptic seizures while he was still a Bishop, but “I didn’t let it get in the way. I would push on irrespective of that” he said. Because of the epilepsy his wife didn’t want him to travel alone on his Stake assignments. On at least two of those occasions, this was a blessing, he said. He recalls a trip with the stake clerk in Thaba 'Nchu. They decided to take the farm roads and join the highway at a later point. As he was driving, he had a seizure, but his companion was able to keep the car on the road during the seizure. He believes that if it were not for the stake clerk travelling with him, he probably would have veered off the road and written the car off, or worse.
In his first year as Stake President, Warner found out that he had a tumour at the base of his brain. Given the danger of the situation, he was booked for surgery a week later. During the course of the operation they severed his facial nerve and his auditory nerve, rendering him permanently deaf in the right ear and paralysed on the right side of his face. Warner’s eyesight was also affected.
Despite the recommendation from his doctors to take time to recuperate, Warner resumed his duties as Stake President a week after surgery. Prior to that he had seen Elder Christoffel Golden, the Area President at the time, who gave him a blessing, in which it was said that it was not necessary for Warner to be released as the Lord had work for him to do, and would help him through the process. So Warner continued to serve for another eight years after the surgery, during which time he never felt the desire to resign from his calling.
Warner’s biggest frustration after the operation was that he no longer had the energy he had had prior to going to hospital. “I had so much I wanted to do. I was so used to being busy and running around, whether it was for my calling, at home or my vocation; I just wasn’t able to keep up the same pace, and that was most frustrating. I suspect that I went into a bout of depression because of that.”
11 years later Warner is doing well, and feels that the Lord sustained him through that period of time. “I suspect it has also given me a greater empathy for those who have similar conditions, and I think it’s a miracle for me that irrespective of the life threatening condition, many individuals tell me what an inspiration it is that I have been able to continue.” He says, “I have not allowed myself to wallow in self-pity, but rather to get back up and continue with the work.”
Warner is driven by responsibility to the Lord and his family. His faith in the Lord, and knowing that He would help him, has blessed and sustained him. He feels that the biggest blessing is that he and his family have learned not to sink into grief or despair. “We just need to go out there and do the right thing.”
“It has helped us to realise that next to the temple, the home is the most sacred place, and Melissa and I have done our very best to ensure that basic gospel living takes place in the home. We’ve always had family home evening, we’ve always had our prayers, and we do our best with our scripture study. We’ve really tried to ensure that we have invited the Lord into our home.”
Warner has inspired many with his story of courage and triumph through adversity by demonstrating that faith and perseverance are what get us through our responsibilities, no matter what happens to us.