“Members Grateful for the Challenge,” Ensign, Mar. 2006, 72
In the last few weeks of 2005, two sisters in the Madagascar Antananarivo Mission posed a familiar question to members, a question that at the time would have resonated with Church members anywhere in the world: “Manao ahoana ny famamkiano?” they asked. “How’s your reading?”
It is likely that, at the time, more people were reading the Book of Mormon than at any other time in the history of the Church.
And many of those in Antananarivo were among them. They had not only heeded President Gordon B. Hinckley’s challenge to read the Book of Mormon by the end of the year; they had already finished and were beginning again. The report of this success in Madagascar, shared by Sister Brittney Jorgensen and Sister Carrie Schow, is one of overwhelming thanks for the guidance and direction of President Gordon B. Hinckley.
When the invitation was published in a First Presidency Message in the August issue of the Ensign and Liahona magazines, President Hinckley promised in the same article that those who completed the Book of Mormon by the end of the year, regardless of how many times they had read it before, would experience an added measure of the Spirit of the Lord in their homes and in their lives, a strengthened resolution to walk in obedience to His commandments, and a stronger testimony of the living reality of the Son of God.
With the close of 2005, Sisters Jorgensen and Schow related how they saw these promises fulfilled in the lives of those they teach.
“Even though we are one of the farthest missions from Church headquarters in Salt Lake City, the members hear and follow the direction of the prophet just the same,” they said. “We have had the opportunity to see the effects of diligence and obedience in our lives and in the lives of investigators and recent converts.”
One recent convert, they said, showed them the last page in her book where she had marked the date she finished: December 31, 2005, 7:05 p.m.
Whether readers finished on New Year’s Eve or before, meeting the challenge has strengthened them with faith and confidence to share its message.
Reading the Book of Mormon cover to cover twice, Elder David Walker, a missionary in Barcelona, Spain, found the renewed testimony of the book he had been searching for. “Now when I give my testimony, even on the street, I can feel something inside reaffirming the things I’m saying,” Elder Walker said.
Similar responses have come from Church members all over the world. Brother Aldemir Guanacoma Ave, a member of the Abundancia Ward, Piray Santa Cruz Stake in Bolivia, said that when he read President Hinckley’s counsel to read the Book of Mormon again, he felt something strong, deep in his heart.
“At that very moment I asked my Heavenly Father to give me the courage to do it,” he said. “And that is what happened. I have achieved that goal, and now I can’t believe what happened to me during the time I was reading it. I came to understand what it means to live the gospel of Jesus Christ. Now I am sure that the Book of Mormon is true.”
Such knowledge comes because “this wonderful book, this book which has come out of the dust, to speak to men of our generation, stands as another witness of the divinity and reality of the Redeemer of the world,” President Hinckley said at the First Presidency Christmas Devotional held in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City in December. “I thank each of you, and I know that you have been blessed.”