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A Personal Testimony of
Faith and Family History

by R. Clayton Brough, 19 August 2008

     For more than three decades I've been involved in genealogy and family history, and for many years I've served as an officer of the Brough Family Organization (BFO)--one of the largest and oldest ancestral family organizations in the world. During this time, my wife and sweetheart, Ethel, has constantly helped and sustained me in my genealogical endeavors, and my four children have always encouraged and supported me in my family history activities.
     As a BFO officer, I've often been asked by family members and friends why I spend so much of my free-time--as an unpaid volunteer--doing genealogy research and family history work for family members and potential relatives around the world. Here is my answer:
     First, I am a practicing Christian and a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS). As such, I'm not really worried about what others think of me, since I'm mainly concerned about what the Lord Jesus Christ thinks of me. If my words and works are considerate of others and inspired by the Holy Ghost and approved by the Lord, then I'm headed in the right direction--both in this life and into the next. As a Christian and a member of the LDS Church, I have a strong testimony of the divinity of God our Eternal Father in Heaven, his Son the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost, and I also believe in the eternal nature of the family and the significance of genealogy and family history work, and feel it is very important that LDS members facilitate and perform sacred temple ordinances for those who never had the chance in this life to enjoy the full blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Also, I strongly believe that people of all religious faiths and walks of life can enjoy the friendship and love that comes through learning about their ancestors and family heritage.
     Second, I am a professional teacher and atmospheric scientist, and I feel very strongly that many of today's youth--with so many available distractions and irreverent voices clamoring for their attention--have lost a sense of "connectedness" towards their extended families, and that many young people--along with too many adults--know little about their ancestors who sacrificed and toiled to make their modern lives possible and enjoyable. Simply put, I feel that as people gain a better understanding of the lives and trials of their ancestors they more fully appreciate who they are and what they have, become less critical and more forgiving of others, and strive to conduct themselves in a more honorable manner--because they soon realize that "no man is an island" and that "how I live today may impact my posterity for generations to come".* In fact, I often use the following quote (author unknown) when talking to people about the relevance of knowing and understanding one's family history:
     
     How Will You Be Remembered?

     If you could see your ancestors
     All standing in a row,
     There might be some of them
     You wouldn't want to know.
     But here's another question
     Which requires another view,
     When your posterity looks backwards
     Will they be proud of you?

     Needless to say, it is my hope that everyone will learn of their family heritage, and so live their lives that their families and posterity will be "proud" of them.
     In closing, I testify to you that I know that God our Eternal Father lives, that Jesus is the Christ and our Savior, that the Holy Ghost bears witness of the Father and of the Son, and that all mankind will someday be resurrected and stand before God to be judged "according to their works" (Revelations, 20:13). I pray that when we--as family members and friends--pass from mortality to immortality, that the Lord will also be able to say of us, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord." (Matthew 25:21).

* On February 17, 2013, the Parade magazine (www.parade.com) that appeared as a suppliment in the Deseret News newspaper of Salt Lake City, Utah, published an article entitled "One Big Happy Family", which stated the following: "When a team of psychologists measured children's resilience, they found that the kids who knew the most about their family's history were best able to handle stress [over those who played team sports or attended regular religious services]. The more children know about their family's history, the stronger their sense of control over their lives and the higher their self-esteem. The reason: These children have a strong sense of 'intergenerational self'--they understand that they belong to something bigger than themselves, and that families naturally experience both highs and lows."

* On December 4, 2013, the Deseret News newspaper published an article by Jenet Jacob Erickson entitled "Understanding their family history helps children cope with life", which stated the following: "Insightful research out of Emory University explores why this pattern of remembering history together is so important in family life. An analysis of typical dinner conversations among middle-class families found predictably that families were likely to talk about their day, such as what happened at school and work. But families also shared stories from their past – including stories about parents’ childhood. Knowing these family history stories was associated with better outcomes for children including lower anxiety and depression, and less anger, aggression, and acting out. Additional research revealed that the more children knew about their family’s history, the higher their self-concept and the stronger their sense of ability to make decisions and achieve desired goals. And these effects were found after taking into account the positive effects associated with general patterns of healthy family communication and interaction. Knowing stories from family history itself seemed to instill a strong sense of identity, grounding children in the recognition that they belong to something bigger than themselves – something from which they draw meaning, strength and wisdom. No wonder, then, great sacrifices have been made throughout history to continue the rituals that enable individuals to remember who they are and what they belong to...."

For more information about Clayton Brough and his views on Family History,
visit this website: http://mormon.org/me/2BRG/ClaytonBrough