Beginning the Journey
My testimony of The Book of Mormon journey began within a week of graduating from Spanish Fork High School. I was on my way to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, to attend Basic Combat Training (BCT) as part of my Utah Army National Guard (UTARNG) obligation. I was to spend nine weeks at this duty station; six weeks for BCT and three weeks for Advanced Individual Training (AIT). Upon completing this tour, I planned to return home and take a two-year leave of absence from the UTARNG to serve a full-time mission for my church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
I graduated from the four-year LDS Seminary program and had studied much of The Book of Mormon during that time. However, I had not read it from cover to cover as it were. Also, I had not put to task the promise in Moroni 10:3-5; which was to gain a testimony of it by the power of the Holy Spirit. I logically concluded, while in boot camp, that if I was going to share the gospel of Jesus Christ and the divinity of The Book of Mormon with others via an LDS mission, I should read it in its entirety and gain a spiritual testimony of it by the power of the Holy Ghost.
For the entire six weeks of boot camp, I read it whenever I had a chance to. The bishop of my ward had given me a small serviceman’s copy of The Book of Mormon. Fortunately for me, it fit quite well into my back pocket. It was not easy to find the time, but my desire to read it from cover to cover was resolute. With much determination and vigilance, I eventually achieved my goal.
Moreover, that little red book was well-worn during those six weeks. It had been through mud, rain, dirt, and a lot of sweat. I still have it somewhere in my office.
After graduating from boot camp, I shipped out to my AIT duty station, which would last for three weeks. The barracks there provided a little more privacy and a secluded place to pray at night. After about a week, I decided to pray for a spiritual confirmation of The Book of Mormon’s truthfulness.
I remember praying to know its truth for about three or four nights beginning the second week there. With much humility and a sincere heart, I poured out my soul in earnest prayer to my Heavenly Father. After many genuine and concentrated attempts and not having received the spiritual manifestation I was seeking, I ceased my prayers. I ended my prayers because I concluded from a biased deduction and intellectual standpoint that it was true. Also, I resolved in my mind that I was going to go on an LDS mission. I made this commitment because I erroneously reasoned that I already knew The Book of Mormon was true.
About a week before I was to complete my training, one of my “buddies” and I were tasked to clean the break room. While I was sweeping the floor, I noticed a flyer on the bulletin board. It was an invitation to anyone interested in viewing a slideshow about the ancient ruins in South America. Also, LDS missionaries were presenting it. I decided I would attend primarily to talk to the missionaries. I wanted to find out if they enjoyed their missions. Besides, I was curious to ask what advice they could give me to have a successful missionary experience for myself.
The following Monday, I hurried and finished my evening meal in the chow hall. Next, I changed into some clean clothes to attend the presentation. Surprisingly, I was looking forward to this gathering! The missionaries were on time, set-up, and ready to go. They introduced themselves and asked some very general questions. There were about three or four other inquisitive individuals, besides myself, who attended.
A Promise Kept
As they turned off the lights and began their presentation, I sat there and watched the slideshow. The content included pictures of ancient ruins and temples located throughout Central and South America. While enjoying the display, a piercing silence enveloped me. I don’t know how long it lasted, but during that sacred moment, the Holy Spirit bore witness to me that The Book of Mormon was indeed true and that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. In addition, it was revealed to me that my sins, up to that point in my life, were forgiven.
I can’t readily recall other episodes of that evening or any of the conversations that took place… I was so of joy with what I had just experienced. Consequently, I knew then what I know to this day… That the promise God made through Moroni was kept and the answer I sought about the Book of Mormon’s truth was realized. Furthermore, the answers to my prayers were manifest and made known in a way that I did not doubt the source or validity of where this knowledge came from.
This effectual experience was so compelling that I intuitively understood the nature and cause of it. I knew that I had a spiritual witness, and I knew that God knew that I knew.
Also, I subsequently understood that I did not need to see the “gold plates” upon which the original text was written. Furthermore, I did not need to see and hear from angels to confirm the truth of what I had just experienced. Finally, I did not need some other “miraculous manifestation” of sorts as one might envision. As I now reflect, all I needed was that “still small voice” to know the truth of the matter.
I recall driving through that demographic area of Missouri some years later and reflecting upon this experience that I had years before. As I reminisced about how I gained a testimony of The Book of Mormon, I ran through a checklist in my mind of all the circumstances that took place, leading to that experience, and how it was highly improbable for those events to have been mere coincidences to account for the following questions:
- First, there was only one set of LDS missionaries for that entire demographic area around Waynesville, Missouri, including Fort Leonard Wood, a large military training station. How is it that these two LDS missionaries just happened to come to my barracks out of all the hundreds upon hundreds on the base?
- Second, how is it that I just happened to be assigned to clean the break room on the Friday evening before the presentation and just happened to see the missionary’s flyer on the bulletin board?
- Third, how is it that the answer to my prayers came just days after I had asked for this blessing and just a week before I was to ship out to go home?
Even from a secular view, these circumstances–setting aside the spiritual experience–are too incontrovertible for me to explain away as mere coincidences.
My Testimony of The Book of Mormon
I bear witness to my family, my loved ones, my posterity, and the world that The Book of Mormon is true and indeed contains the gospel of Jesus Christ! Also, I now know with surety that Joseph Smith was the individual God chose to restore the true and everlasting gospel to the Earth, in this last of dispensations, in preparation for the second coming of the Savior. I also know that I can never, with all honest conscience, deny these facts and this knowledge, even if I fall by the wayside for some reason. Finally, I bear witness to the truthfulness of these words in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Reference: Book of Mormon Challenge. http://www.utlm.org/newsletters/pdfnewsletters/107saltlakecitymessenger.pdf