“An Answer Like a Splash of Fire,” Ensign, Dec. 1983, 22–23
Some years before I knew anything about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints I began to think of eternity, and how I would stand before God on the day of judgment. I thought of my unworthiness, and often in the silent hours of the night dark shadows seemed to surround me, causing me great anguish.
I wanted God to show me the way, to give me a sign of some kind. I had felt the Spirit’s presence many times, but not at this time of my humble request. I needed help, for my heart was troubled.
One beautiful evening in May there was a knock on the door, and two young men stood there. They left the Book of Mormon with me, but they left something else also, something I did not know existed—a beautiful feeling of peace. I knew they were messengers from God. These two young men became my teachers.
I read a few chapters in the Book of Mormon, and at first I regarded it as an ordinary history or chronicle, but soon felt it to be inspired of God and involved myself deeply in it. As I read on, compassion for those people filled my thoughts. At times I seemed to be walking among them, treading the hot soil of their land and listening to their prophets.
One day my teachers put the question of baptism to me, but I was unsure and asked for time. In my mind appeared my old Protestant church on the Baltic, strong and majestic, where for over seven centuries services had been held. I could see that beautiful edifice as it was in the time of my confirmation, but now it had been destroyed in the war. The pull of my religion was stronger than I thought. I wanted a sign.
The elders advised me to pray and read the 32nd chapter of Alma. In verse 17 I read: “Yea, there are many who do say: If thou wilt show unto us a sign from heaven, then we shall know of a surety; then we shall believe. Now I ask, is this faith?” (Alma 32:17–18.)
I realized this was written for those like me. I read on, and in verse 28 [Alma 32:28] the answer was before me. The word was compared to a seed, to be planted in our hearts; and if the seed were a true seed it would begin to swell within the breast and enlarge the soul; it would enlighten our understanding. The verses following were so beautiful and stirring: the tree would grow and be nourished and bring forth fruit, and thus we would reap the rewards of faith. That was what I had been searching for. It pierced my soul like an arrow, and I wept tears of joy.
But I still had to put my mind at rest over Joseph Smith. I believed he was a prophet, but my testimony lacked something. I was struggling with nameless doubts. My teachers said again, pray on your knees and ask God who Joseph Smith was. I fasted and prayed, but there was silence. Then early one morning I was kneeling by my bed with the sun streaming in, and I cried aloud, “Please, God, in the name of Jesus Christ, who was Joseph Smith?” And the answer came like a splash of fire over my head and into my chest. It was so incredibly beautiful I just stayed there on my knees, offering a silent prayer of thanks.
Only four weeks later I entered the waters of baptism, whereas I had been searching and waiting for the truth for more than four years. As I came out of the water I felt infinitely small, truly newborn, with the surety that my sins had been forgiven and I was washed clean. And when I was confirmed I sensed my heart opening like a clear vessel to receive the Holy Spirit. I was filled with wonder and peace and humility. I will always be grateful for those missionaries, whose coming altered my whole life.