“Finding Truth in the Book of Mormon,” Ensign, Jan. 1996, 8
For 166 years, the Book of Mormon has been changing the lives of those it touches. It was responsible for bringing many early leaders and stalwart members into the Church as they discovered that through a latter-day prophet God had spoken again to his children on the earth. Today, it is an instrument for introducing thousands of souls each year to the gospel as they find truths for our times within its pages. No one who reads with a humble heart, seeking truth, can fail to be touched by this sacred gift from our Father.
The book not only testifies of the Lord Jesus Christ and the blessings available through his atonement but also shows us the way to become one with him.
Many are the stories of blessings poured out upon those who have sought him and his truths in the Book of Mormon. Following are a few accounts of such experiences.
My family didn’t attend church when I was growing up, and I can remember wondering if God actually existed. The first time I ever thought about an afterlife was when my grandfather died. I remember thinking that perhaps I would see him again someday, but the minister I asked about this explained to me that when we got to heaven we wouldn’t know anyone. After listening to more doctrine about heaven that conflicted with what my heart told me, I decided that the preacher had to be wrong. With this decision began my intense interest in different beliefs and religions.
In college I studied religion in earnest, taking every course that was available—Hinduism, Judaism, Catholicism, and numerous classes in Protestantism. These classes often left me with more questions than answers. I visited many different churches and worship services, too, but did not find one that felt permanently right.
By the time I graduated from college with a degree in social work and psychology, I was married, with two children. I grew used to working long hours, and sometimes weekends, in my job as a therapist. Then I was diagnosed with a very serious illness and underwent six major surgeries in as many years. The last one came after my husband had lost his job, leaving us with no medical insurance, and after we had lost our house to Hurricane Hugo in September 1989.
There seemed no end to the mounting hospital and doctor bills. I lived with chronic pain day after day—pain that made it hurt even to breathe. I sometimes fell into deep depressions that seemed to engulf me.
In August 1990 we took a job transfer back home, to Alabama. I had hoped that things would start getting better. Instead, in October I was told that I needed yet another operation. With no medical insurance, I didn’t see how we could handle any more medical bills. I decided it would perhaps be better to end my own life. I planned how and when I would do it, and determined to spend as much time with my children before then as possible. Each night I would stand by their beds and watch them sleep.
One Friday in November, I was in a tremendous amount of pain. For the first time in months, I got on my knees and prayed. I asked Heavenly Father to help me cope, to send me hope, and to forgive me for what I planned to do.
The next afternoon there was a knock at my door. It was two young men in white shirts and ties—the same young men I had seen and spoken to in the grocery store a few days earlier. They told me they were missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Despite the warning one of my college professors had given in class—“never let the Mormon missionaries in”—I decided to listen to them.
Actually, I was more interested in analyzing them than in listening to them. I kept looking for what I thought of as “cult tendencies,” but they seemed relatively normal. I invited them back, and they gave me a copy of the Book of Mormon. It was the first time I had ever seen one. I thumbed through it and laid it on top of the television set. As soon as they left, I tossed it into the wastebasket.
I stepped back and looked at the book. It seemed a shame to throw away something with “Another Testament of Jesus Christ” written across the front of it. I retrieved it and put it on my bookshelf.
The next week they returned to teach me the first discussion. Speaking of the Book of Mormon, they told me, “We know this book is true.” I told them it was impossible to “know” anything like that; they simply believed it was true. They insisted that they “knew.” I found their certainty somewhat amusing.
Just before they left, they asked me to pray and ask Heavenly Father if the Book of Mormon is true. I asked them if they would baptize a person who had planned one’s own death. They told me they would teach the person about God’s plan of life and salvation; then that individual wouldn’t want to die and could become ready for baptism. I found their answer intriguing. And I realized that while they were in my home, I wasn’t in pain and I wasn’t depressed. I felt good.
I began to read the Book of Mormon and found it much more interesting than I had anticipated. In one college class on ancient Central American history, I had learned about different peoples there. The Book of Mormon explained who they were. Maybe it could be true, I reasoned. As the missionaries taught me over the next few weeks, I went on reading day and night. But I was afraid to pray—afraid to learn that the book was true.
Finally, a month after the missionaries started teaching me, I bent down on my knees and asked Heavenly Father if The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Book of Mormon were true. That night I had a dream. In it I was walking in a meadow. I was in the presence of someone I could not see, someone who told me, “Listen to them. What they say to you is true.” I sat up in bed. I knew immediately that everything the missionaries had taught me was true. I knew it.
I was baptized seven weeks after I had been given that copy of the Book of Mormon.
In January I received my patriarchal blessing. Among other things, I was blessed with physical strength. In February my doctor told me that my disease had gone into remission. Could this be the physical strength I was promised? I believe it was—or at least one manifestation of it.
I have no way of knowing how long I will be in remission, but I have come to enjoy and appreciate the life I have. The knowledge I have gained has shown me just how precious that gift is.
Thinking back, I can see that Heavenly Father answered my prayer for hope. I found it through the gospel, and through the book I tried to throw away. My entire life has been changed as a result. I do not know how others may view my conversion experience, but to me it was a miracle.—Name Withheld
The message from our prophets has been consistent: we must make the scriptures part of our daily lives, and particularly the Book of Mormon, drawing strength from its teachings and sharing them with others. President Ezra Taft Benson spoke of flooding the earth with this great book (see Ensign, Nov. 1988, pp. 4–6).
This image settled on my mind because I drew nourishment daily from the pages of the Book of Mormon. But how could I as an individual be a significant part of such a flood?
Then one night as I was pondering this problem I realized that I could give every individual on my street the opportunity to receive a copy of the Book of Mormon.
But there was a problem—they knew me. They knew about my dog that barked too often—and too early in the morning. They knew that my yard was not the garden spot of the neighborhood. They knew my shortcomings as a neighbor; they would probably turn me away.
I determined to have faith and go ahead anyway. I would offer them the book—even if they might throw it away, or let it collect dust on their shelves for years. Yet I found myself thinking negatively; I had almost convinced myself that nothing could come of my efforts.
Then I remembered that I knew my neighbors at least as well as they knew me. A few had told questionable jokes at the last community development meeting, and a few had drunk too much at the last neighborhood barbecue. Some seemed to have little purpose in their lives. I wondered what I would have been like if I weren’t a member of the Church, or if I’d never heard of the Book of Mormon. Clearly, this book could help those who would give it a chance.
So I contacted everyone on my street and offered them a copy of the Book of Mormon—and they all thanked me! It went so well that I went to the next street, completed my subdivision, and then went on to the next subdivision. When I was through, I had visited 104 houses and placed forty books.
It started to become easier to offer copies of the Book of Mormon to acquaintances.
In time I had given all seventy-five employees at my work copies of the Book of Mormon. Twenty-three of them took the missionary discussions. Seven were later baptized, and four children belonging to my coworkers also joined the Church. One man took two discussions but then lost interest in investigating the Church. Seven months later, after he had moved on to a job at another company, he called to tell me that he had been reading the Book of Mormon and had realized that he was feeling the calm, peaceful touch of the Spirit, just as I had described it. He, too, soon finished the discussions and was baptized.
I love the Book of Mormon. I think of it as the Lord’s calling card, and I have been amazed at how easy it is to start a spiritual flood with it on a personal scale. When we do the work of the Lord, we have his help.—Howard J. McOmber II, Redmond, Washington
President Ezra Taft Benson said to read the Book of Mormon every day, and I meant to, but every day was such a scramble. When I first began pondering in earnest how to deal with this problem, I had three children, a three-year-old daughter and one-year-old twin sons. While they were awake, I rushed around trying to manage the daily activities that keep a housewife and mother busy—cleaning, laundry, meals, and so forth.
Day after day, week after week, the scriptures were squeezed from my day’s routine by other urgent duties, and because of my own procrastination. Surely the Lord could see, I told myself, that I did not have time to read in the scriptures.
This thinking reminded me of excuses I had heard for why some people did not pay tithing. My husband had often told me of his mission experiences with the principle of the tithe. He had worked with destitute families, many of them facing tremendous financial difficulties. He had promised them that if they would pay tithing their financial needs would be met. Repeatedly and miraculously, this promise had been fulfilled.
I wondered if the same principle could work with time. If I gave the Lord his portion first, so to speak, by making scripture study a high priority, would he bless me with the time I needed to care for my family, my home, and myself? I decided to test this idea. I began getting up earlier, making time for reading from the Book of Mormon before my children awakened. I tried to read for fifteen minutes to half an hour each morning. If I could not complete that goal for some reason, I would commit to drop whatever I was doing later in the day while my children napped, so that I could study the scriptures.
For a week I read without missing a day, and the results were incredible. I was able to exercise, keep up with my housework, cook, do laundry, care for the children, and still have an hour or two to practice my talents or pursue my interests. I was doing nothing different other than reading from the Book of Mormon each day. It seemed, though, that each day had become several hours longer. Perhaps I had more energy, or perhaps I had become better organized, but whatever the case was, I was able to accomplish more in the same amount of time.
The gift of more time was not the only blessing that came from reading the Book of Mormon. My reading has brought the Spirit into my life in greater abundance. This has been the greatest reward received from following the Lord’s counsel through his prophet. I have more patience with my children, more understanding and compassion for others, and more love for my husband. I feel at peace, and I am aware of an abundance of blessings in my life. I have a greater awareness of my priorities and a great satisfaction with what I am achieving.
Studying the Book of Mormon each day has brought me happiness in many ways. I cannot imagine trying to manage my life now without daily scripture study.—Diana Hoffman, Cupertino, California