Professor Solomon’s Challenge

“Professor Solomon’s Challenge,” Ensign, June 1995, 59–60

Professor Solomon’s Challenge

I was a single mother with five children when I decided to return to school for a college degree. I was scared, but I had always believed in the importance of education and self-improvement.

On my first day of class, I wondered if I, as an older student, would feel like a fish out of water. My daughter Lori, age fourteen, yelled after me from the doorway, “Mom, you’ll do great. You’ll make new friends in each class!” I left quickly before my anxiety could get the better of me.

Gradually, as my self-confidence grew, I began to enjoy my university experience. But one day during my second semester I was thrown out of my comfort zone.

My literature professor was lecturing about an age of disillusionment, a period of questioning and searching for meaning in life. He asked the class how many of us attended church regularly. Of sixty-five students, only one other student and I raised our hands. Professor Solomon then said he would choose one of us to present a Christian viewpoint and another student to present a non-Christian viewpoint. I could not believe it when he singled me out to come to the front of the class and share my thoughts on Christianity.

I prayed for inspiration as I turned to face the class. I began by explaining that as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I attended church every Sunday and even played the organ for some of the meetings.

“In the university, we question, examine, and look for truth in all areas,” I said. “In many fields this attitude has led us to new inventions and discoveries. Yet some truths in life are unchanging. For instance, I know that we have a Heavenly Father. I know that his Son, Jesus Christ, came to earth to take upon himself our sins. Through repentance, we can return to live with him. We can have great hope for the future.”

I cannot remember all my words. They came quietly and convincingly. The room was so still that I knew the Spirit was present. I could see a few students crying.

Then the most amazing thing happened: the class applauded spontaneously. Professor Solomon said he was impressed. He even forgot to ask another student for the non-Christian viewpoint.

For days afterward, students told me they admired me for not being afraid to say what I believed. Some mentioned that they knew other Church members, and many asked questions about the Church. One woman told me she was a Latter-day Saint but had not been to church for years. We became close friends.

Professor Solomon continued to ask me to share my Christian viewpoint in class. On the last day, after our final exams were handed in, he shook my hand and told me that of all the students he had asked to present a Christian viewpoint during his twelve years at the university, all had declined except me.

“There’s something special about you,” he said. “I could feel it when you were speaking.”

The day that Heavenly Father heard my prayer and relayed his message through me to sixty-five students and a professor will always stand out in my memory. Of all the truths I learned during my years of college, one of the greatest is that with the Lord’s help I should never be afraid to share my testimony with others.