There aren’t many people who can say that they served the gospel until they died.
Elder Joseph Brackenbury is one of them. An emigrant from England, he joined the then newly christened Church of Christ in April 10th of 1831. He was immediately called as an elder on April 11th of 1831 and left for a mission in August of 1831. He was a man of enormous faith who performed several miracles, one of which was told by John Whitmer:
“August 1831 [after Joseph and company return to Ohio] many mighty miracles were wrought by the Elders—one in particular which I shall here notice—which was wrought by Elders Emer Harris Joseph Brackenbury and Wheeler Baldwin. Is [about] an infirmity in an old lady who had been helpless for the space of eight years confined to her bed. She did not belong to this church but sent her request to the Elders who immediately attended to her call, and after their arrival prayed for her and laid their hands on her, and she was immediately made whole and magnified and praised God. and is now enjoying perfect health”.
Elder Brackenbury’s faith was so strong that he was determined to serve his God until the end. He told his friends that he had “consecrated all to God before he was baptized, he was also determined to go on to the end of his life.”
He fulfilled this vow not long after.
In December of 1831, he was called to serve a mission east. In Pomfret, New York, he was secretly administered poison by anti-Mormons led by the devil and boasting that a missionary’s faith was insufficient to save him from death. He suffered horrifically, and “remained in great distress, which he bore with [the] fortitude of a saint for one week and expired with an unshaken confidence in the fullness of the gospel which he had preached, and a firm hope of a glorious resurrection among the just.”
Elder Brackenbury’s mission on this Earth was short, but his legacy can live on in the way we conduct our lives. His standard of serving till our last breathe is a standard we can hold high and proud, and if we do so, we too can have a “firm hope of a glorious resurrection among the just.”