“He Would Not Touch the Book,” Ensign, June 2007, 67–68
In the last area of my mission, Molo, Iloilo, in the Philippines, I prayed hard that before I was released we could baptize and confirm a family. My companion and I prayed one day that we would be directed to the honest in heart, someone who was ready to accept the gospel. We were impressed to knock at a certain house with a bamboo fence. A man came down the stairs, opened the door for us, and invited us to come in.
We befriended him and learned that he was a lawyer. He asked many questions that we sometimes could not answer, and when he spoke, it was with such eloquence as to discourage any missionary. He became a difficult investigator. We introduced the Book of Mormon, but he said, “The Bible alone is enough.” He would never read or even touch the Book of Mormon, as if his hand would be burned.
One day an assistant to the mission president came to work with Elder Alcos, my junior companion. They met with this man, and afterward the assistant frankly told us, “I don’t think that man is prepared to accept the gospel.” I pondered his words, but a sweet, peaceful, reassuring feeling came to me as I recalled our prayer petitioning Heavenly Father to direct us to those who were ready to accept the gospel. I knew our prayer had been answered. I felt that there was something we needed to share with this man. We just did not know what it was or how to do it. But we did not give up on him.
Slowly his heart began to change, and he learned to love the family home evening program that we introduced to him. As the days passed, I felt discouraged that we could not baptize and confirm this family before I left. I had only a few more days before my release. One day I sadly told him, “Brother Garcia, I think I failed my mission.”
He said, “No, Elder Cruz, you did not fail. We have developed a friendship.” We were delighted at his next words: “Don’t worry. We will go to your church on Sunday.”
He and his family did come to church, and the members received them warmly. I saw him shed tears as he listened to the inspiring words spoken during sacrament meeting. He went home happy and uplifted that day. I knew his heart had been touched.
When the time was right and we felt he was ready, we challenged him to be baptized and confirmed. He accepted the challenge. We also challenged him to fast and pray and read the Book of Mormon. My companion and I fasted for him and his family.
May 4, 1986, was my last Sunday in the mission field. It was fast and testimony meeting, and I bore my sincere final testimony to the people I had learned to love. After I testified, I saw this lawyer, who had at first been unreceptive to our message, stand up and walk to the pulpit, holding the Book of Mormon. His whole frame was shaking, and there were tears in his eyes as he raised the Book of Mormon and cried, “Brothers and sisters, I know the Book of Mormon is true.” We rejoiced to hear this testimony.
That afternoon many members of the ward attended the baptism of the Garcia family.
After I was released from my mission, I corresponded regularly with Brother Garcia. He gladly told me when he became a Sunday School president. Later he was called as bishop. He traveled many hours by boat to attend my wedding in the Manila Philippines Temple. Eventually he was called to serve as a stake president and as a counselor in the Philippines Bacolod Mission presidency.
He has been an instrument in the conversion of many people to the restored gospel. The man who acted as if his hand would be burned if he touched the Book of Mormon became a great witness to the divinity and truth of that book.