“Clay’s Present for Jesus,” Ensign, Mar. 1990, 62–63
When Clay Ure was in elementary school, he didn’t learn to read. Born with Downs’ Syndrome and highly susceptible to infection, he was sick most of his childhood and wasn’t able to attend more than two weeks of school at a time. And no educational programs for handicapped children were available in his school then.
By the time Clay was twenty-five years old, his parents felt it was important for him to learn to read. His mother, Betty, was apprehensive about trying to teach him. She did not have any special training, and her previous efforts had not been successful.
Then her husband, Harold, gave Clay a blessing and promised him he would be able to learn to read. For a year Clay and his mother labored with flash cards and early readers. Clay was making slow progress. On 1 January 1986, Betty felt impressed to use the Book of Mormon to teach Clay to read. Most reading teachers would not regard the Book of Mormon as a primer, but of all the reading material available, Betty knew none could benefit her son more than the Book of Mormon.
At first, her goal was to read one verse a day, starting with 1 Nephi 1:1. [1 Ne. 1:1] Before reading each day, mother and son asked the Lord to help Clay learn to read. Betty sat beside him while he read aloud, word by word. He needed less and less help as they progressed through First and Second Nephi, Jacob, and Enos. One of the problems Clay encountered in reading aloud was that his throat sometimes closed off and he had a hard time speaking. In spite of this problem, Betty’s original goal of using the Book of Mormon to teach Clay to read was actually being accomplished.
For many years, the Ure family had given “gifts” to Jesus. Each Christmas afternoon, after the usual Christmas morning of exchanging presents, they symbolically give their gifts to Christ of goals they have accomplished during the year, such as kindnesses they have done or improvements they have made in themselves.
Late in the summer, a friend of Betty’s related that Clay told her he was going to give his Book of Mormon to Jesus as a birthday present. Betty calculated that if Clay were to finish reading the Book of Mormon by Christmas Day, he would have to read four pages a day. That was more than he ever had done before. From the time Clay made his commitment, Betty relates, “his ability and desire to read increased dramatically. He was also able to read aloud for longer periods of time without any speech problems.” Clay finished the last chapter of Moroni on 20 December 1986, having missed only one day of reading. On his own, he wrapped his copy of the Book of Mormon to give to Jesus as a gift.
“President Benson was my greatest reinforcement in keeping Clay motivated,” Betty states. “Clay knows that Ezra Taft Benson is the prophet and that he has told us repeatedly to read the Book of Mormon each day. There was no question in Clay’s mind about obeying the prophet of the Lord.”
A week before stake conference, Betty felt impressed to share Clay’s accomplishment with her stake president, O. Brent Black, of the Salt Lake Brighton Stake. She had no idea the theme for stake conference was the Book of Mormon. She and Clay met with President Black in his office.
“Never have I been touched so deeply as I was by this experience,” relates President Black. “Clay took my Book of Mormon and began to read from it. I could not believe my ears. Not only was he able to read it, but I felt that he loved the book and that he understood what he was reading. There were no words to express my feelings that evening. I just sat and listened, and tears filled my eyes as I recognized that I was witnessing a modern-day miracle. I am thankful that the Lord has strengthened my testimony of the Book of Mormon through Brother Clay Ure.”
President Black asked Clay if he would come and read from the Book of Mormon at the Saturday night session of stake conference. After three members of the stake bore their testimonies of the Book of Mormon, President Black introduced Clay and asked him to read. Clay chose Moroni 10:4–5:
“And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
“And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.” [Moro. 10:4–5]
Clay is now rereading the Book of Mormon, rarely missing a day. Betty terms their reading of the Book of Mormon together as the most beautiful experience of her life. She feels that the dramatic increase in his reading ability, which allowed him to read the entire Book of Mormon only a year after being introduced to reading, is nothing less than miraculous.
Clay’s ability to read the Book of Mormon is greater than his ability to read other books. He has learned many principles of the gospel from his reading. His desire to be obedient has grown immensely, as has his love for Heavenly Father, for the Savior, and for other people.
President Black said to the members of his stake after Clay read to them, “If Clay can read the Book of Mormon from cover to cover, so can the rest of us.”
President Joseph Fielding Smith once stated, “No member of this Church can stand approved in the presence of God who has not seriously and carefully read the Book of Mormon.” (In Conference Report, Oct. 1961, p. 18.)
To those who know and love him, Clay Ure can stand approved.