As a young child, Elder Val R. Christensen was taught
in Sunday School that he belonged to the world’s only true and living church.
“In that moment I received a confidence of that testimony,” recalled Elder
Christensen in an interview with an Ensign reporter. “I remember the room, the
teacher, and how it came to me that this was the true church. Nothing
in my whole life has ever caused me to doubt that.”
Val R. Chistensen was born in Hooper, Utah, on 27 September 1935 to Leonard Cristensen and his wife Jeanette Lowe Rigby. He grew up on the family farm. “My father passed away when I was a small boy, about six," he told a Church News reporter. "My mother wanted to keep the farm going. I had two older brothers, an older sister, and a younger brother. My older brothers were in their teens when our father died. They weren't old enough to have too much experience with farm work, but in some way or another we kept the farm. Early on I began to take care of the animals, help run the farm and took on a lot of responsibility. About the only thing I ever learned how to do was to work. Probably one of the big detriments in my life is that I didn't learn how to participate in recreation. I didn't have anyone to teach me how to fish or hunt." In addition to his chores on his own farm, the young Val hired himself out to neighboring farmers in order to help provide funds for the struggling family.
His mother had received two years of college, enough in those days to secure employment as a school teacher. She continued he own education taking one class at a time until she graduated from college at the age of fifty-seven. But more serious matters had to be attended to before Val could pursue his own higher education.
While preparing for his mission to western Canada from 1955
to 1957, Val worked at a local cannery. The owner's grandaughter, Ruth Ann Wood, caught his eye and she was interested in the hard-working young man despite their disparate social status. The two continued a correspondence by mail while he served the Lord as a full-time missionary. Returning home, they began an earnest courtship which lasted a year before they were married in the Salt Lake Temple on August 15, 1958. They would have two sons and three daughters. At the time of his call to the Second Quorum of Seventy, they had sixteen grand-children.
Meanwhile, Val began to follow his mother's example in pursueing higher education. He received a bachelor’s degree in English from Utah State University at about the same time his mother received her own degree. He continued and was awarded a master’s degree in secondary education administration at Utah State University and subsequently earned a doctorate at Michigan State University.
Between 1960 and 1964, Val completed a stint in the United States Army, reaching the rank of Captain. He then began a career in education, teaching High School, and working at Brigham Young University’s Continuing Education Center in Ogden, Utah, Brother Christensen accepted employment in 1965 at Utah State University, where he retired in 1996 as vice president of student services.
The rigors of family and career notwithstanding, Val also found time for extensive church service including regional representative, stake president, stake presidency counselor, high councilor, bishop, and bishopric counselor. In July 1996 he was called to full-time service as president of the Arizona Phoenix Mission. “This calling has occupied our minds and thoughts absolutely every hour of every day,” he says. “It is so inspirational to sit in the presence of our more than
200 missionaries, who are the up-and-coming leaders of the Church. We love
them and often sing my favorite song, ‘Love One Another,’ at our meetings together. We appreciate the sacrifices they and their families make to have them serve.” The missionaries, in turn, learned an ethic of hard work and service from President Christensen.
In the April 1998 Conference President Christensen became Elder Christensen as he was called into the Second Quorum of the Seventy and became a General Authority. In July of the same year he received his assignment as Second Counselor in the Philippines Area of the Church.
Having filled the term of his calling with distinction, Elder Christensen was honorably released from the Second Quorum of the Seventy in October 2004 and given a vote of thanks by the Church in General Conference assembled.