Beginning the Journey
My testimony of The Book of Mormon endeavor 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 completion of 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 a 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. That little red book was well worn out during this six-week period. 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 to the truthfulness of The Book of Mormon.
I remember praying to know the truth of it for about three or four nights beginning the second week there. With much humility and a sincere heart, I poured out my soul in prayer to my Heavenly Father. After many sincere and concentrated attempts, and not having received the spiritual manifestation I was seeking, I ceased my prayers. I ceased my prayers on the matter because I had concluded from an intellectual standpoint that it was true. Also, I resolved in my mind that I was going on a mission because I reasoned that I already knew The Book of Mormon was true.
About a week before I was to complete my training and then go back home, one of my “buddies” and me were assigned the task 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. In addition, LDS missionaries were presenting it. I decided I would attend; to talk to the missionaries and see how they liked their missions.
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. I was surprisingly 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 curious 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. It was also made known to me that my sins, up to that point in my life, were forgiven.
I can’t remember the rest of the evening or any of the conversations that took place because I was so filled with joy with what I had just experienced. I knew then, what I know to this day, that the promise God made through Moroni was kept and the answer I sought was realized. Furthermore, the answer to my prayers was manifested in a way that I had no doubt about 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 from the Holy Ghost that manifested this knowledge to me, and I knew that God knew that I knew.
In addition, I subsequently realized I did not need to see the gold plates upon which the original text was written, I did not need to see angels to confirm the truth of what I had just experienced, and I did not need a miraculous manifestation of some sort as one might expect. All I needed was that “still small voice” to know the truth of the matter.
I recall driving through that area of Missouri, some years later, and reflecting upon this experience that I had. As I reminisced about how I gained a testimony of the truthfulness of The Book of Mormon, I ran through my mind 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 whole area around Waynesville, Missouri, not to mention Fort Leonard Wood, which is a large military training station… and these two LDS missionaries just happened to come to my barracks, out of all the hundreds upon hundreds on the base?
- Second, I just happened to volunteer 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, 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 temporal view, these circumstances–without the spiritual experience–are too incontrovertible for me to just 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 is indeed the word of God and that Joseph Smith was the person God chose to restore the true gospel to the Earth, in this last of dispensations, in preparation for the second coming of the Savior. In addition, I also know that I can never, with all good conscience, deny these facts and this knowledge. I testify to the truthfulness of these words in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.