“I Felt a Fire Inside,” Ensign, Oct. 2011, 69
I Felt a Fire Inside
Claudia Williams, Florida, USA
I grew up attending Sunday School at a church next door to my childhood home in Michigan, USA. I had a wonderful teacher who filled me with a love for Jesus Christ.
Each week she passed out cards illustrating events from the Savior’s mortal ministry, including principles He taught and miracles He performed. Each week I pasted the cards into a scrapbook and reread the stories in the Bible. As I grew older, I continued to study the Gospels in the New Testament.
Years later, during the summer of 1968, missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints visited the home of a family member. She declined the elders’ invitation to learn about the Church but sent them to my home.
At our first meeting the missionaries taught me that “a falling away” had occurred from the Church that Jesus Christ had established (see 2 Thessalonians 2:3). What they taught coincided with my personal study, so when they asked if they could visit me again, I agreed.
During their next visit, I had a list of questions. Did Latter-day Saints baptize by immersion? Did they believe in priesthood authority? Did they believe in the healing of the sick? Their answers supported what I had studied in the New Testament. At the end of the visit, they left me with a book they said testified of Jesus Christ.
I set the book on top of the TV and went to bed. But in the middle of the night, I was awakened by a strong feeling I later recognized as the Holy Ghost. I felt prompted to start reading, so I read for an hour and a half before returning to bed. A short time later, I reawakened with the same feeling, so I read some more.
This pattern continued for the next two nights. I loved what I was reading and recognized that the Book of Mormon testified of Jesus Christ.
I decided to ask God for direction. For the first time since I was a little girl, I knelt to pray. I asked Heavenly Father to help me know what to do with the fire I felt inside of me. When I finished my prayer, I felt prompted to revisit the account of the Lamanites’ conversion in 3 Nephi 9. I read that they “were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and they knew it not” (verse 20).
The phrase “they knew it not” spoke to me. The thought came to me: “The Church of Jesus Christ really is on the earth!” I was eager to talk to the missionaries about what I had read and what I now knew. But when they responded to my questions with an invitation to be baptized, I told them I couldn’t. My husband wouldn’t understand.
As I continued to think about that verse, however, I realized that it contained clear direction for me to offer the sacrifice of “a broken heart and a contrite spirit.” I prayed and asked my Father in Heaven to help me, which He did. After my husband took the missionary discussions, he gave his consent for me to be baptized.
How grateful I am to a loving Heavenly Father for that precious and powerful experience I had as a young mother in reading the Book of Mormon. It led me to the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. As a result, the influence of the Holy Ghost I felt those nights in 1968 is now a constant gift—something that has guided me during my more than 40 years as a member of the Church.