“The Family-to-Family Book of Mormon Program,” Ensign, May 1987, 101–2
The Family-to-Family Book of Mormon program, which was begun on a limited scale more than twenty years ago, has gained considerable impetus in recent years. To learn more about this program and what it is doing for both members and missionaries, the Ensign spoke with Robert H. Burton, director of the program, and Vernon Proctor, assistant director.
Ensign: Exactly what is the Family-to-Family Book of Mormon program?
Brother Burton: The Family-to-Family Book of Mormon program is designed to encourage members of the Church to strengthen their testimonies through daily study of the Book of Mormon and to share their testimonies in writing with neighbors and people throughout the world. Families or individuals provide funds to purchase copies of the Book of Mormon and write their testimonies regarding the truthfulness of the book. These testimonies, along with a photograph of the person or his family, are affixed to the inside front cover of each Book of Mormon, and the books are then distributed to friends and neighbors or to investigators and missionary contacts.
President Ezra Taft Benson has said that the Book of Mormon is the most powerful proselyting tool that we have. The program provides a wonderful way for more and more people to declare their testimony of the book to others.
Brother Proctor: For many years the prophets have told us we should all be missionaries. This program provides an excellent way to help us do this. Those who participate serve as a sort of absentee companion to the full-time missionaries and help them serve in a more effective and successful way.
Ensign: What are the goals of the program?
Brother Burton: Our goals are, first, to increase the testimony of members, and second, to convert nonmembers through these testimonies and through the Book of Mormon, which gives them a true and firm testimony of the Savior, of the divine calling of the Prophet Joseph Smith, and of the truthfulness of the restored Church.
A third goal is to increase the spirituality of both the family donating the Book of Mormon and the family receiving it. This also should increase the spirituality of the ward and stake involved.
One bishop told us that after his ward became very active in reading the Book of Mormon and in the Family-to-Family Book of Mormon program, he noticed a great increase in the unity and spirituality of the ward. Another member’s teenage son told his dad, “Something wonderful has happened to our ward.” He didn’t know what it was, but he could feel it.
Ensign: How do members participate?
Brother Burton: A member who wants to participate in the program should contact his ward mission leader. This leader will then help the member and his family prepare the material that goes with the book. First, they will write a testimony on paper about four by five inches.
The testimony should be brief—perhaps sixty-five words or less. It should include reference to the Book of Mormon and what it has meant to the family or the individual donating the book.
A clear, sharp photograph of the family or the individual may be placed above the testimony, while the donor’s name and address should appear at the bottom of the page. Those bearing their testimony may also invite those who read it to write and tell them how they enjoyed the book.
Brother Proctor: If the family or individual donor can’t provide a suitable photograph, the ward mission leader should help arrange to have one taken. He should then have the photo processed and screened for reproduction. Approximately two hundred copies of the photograph and written testimony could be printed for future use. These should be kept by the family or the ward mission leader until needed.
Copies of the Book of Mormon are purchased by funds donated by the individual member or family providing the testimonies.
Brother Burton: Testimonies can also be furnished to stake and full-time missionaries to be placed in books they distribute. I should note that books for the Utah North and Utah South missions are supplied by the stakes through the Family-to-Family Book of Mormon office.
One major goal of the program is to have individual stakes supply enough copies of the Book of Mormon, complete with written testimonies and photos, to supply the mission in which the stake is located. Surplus funds and expressions of testimonies should be sent through the ward mission leader or stake mission president to The Family-to-Family Book of Mormon Office, 430 West 400 North, Salt Lake City, Utah 84103.
We don’t encourage people to send copies of the books directly to the different missions. It’s more efficient for the books to be sent in bulk from distribution centers, with the testimony packets sent separately. The testimony sheets will then be attached to the inside cover of the books in the mission office.
Ensign: Is there any way members may learn if their testimonies have been favorably received?
Brother Burton: In each testimony packet three other items are included: a self-addressed envelope in which the recipient can send a letter to the donor, a small page of twenty-three questions that refer to passages in the Book of Mormon, and a self-addressed feedback card that missionaries can use to advise the donor of what the recipient did with the book.
Ensign: You mentioned that one of the goals of the program is to increase the testimonies of those who participate in it. How does the program do this?
Brother Burton: If a member’s testimony of the Book of Mormon isn’t as firm as he or she would like it to be, the Family-to-Family Book of Mormon program encourages the person to strengthen that testimony by reading the Book of Mormon daily, pondering its message, and praying for confirmation of its truthfulness. As is promised in the introduction to the Book of Mormon, “Those who pursue this course and ask in faith will gain a testimony of its truth and divinity by the power of the Holy Ghost.”
It is important for families to immerse themselves in the Book of Mormon and develop solid testimonies for themselves, and then to share that testimony with others.
Ensign: How successful is the program?
Brother Proctor: We have many letters from those who have received copies of the Book of Mormon through the program. We find that when people read the personal testimonies of donors and see the photos in the front of the book, they become interested enough to read the book.
Brother Burton: Mission presidents have told us that the testimony-bearing copies of the Book of Mormon are much more effective than are uninscribed copies.
We know the success increases even more when the missionary makes an effort to explain the program as he presents a Book of Mormon to an investigator, and emphasizes the desire of the donor to share both the book and his family’s testimony.