“Dad, I’m Proud of You!” Liahona, Jan. 2007, 46–47
Because my wife and I knew of no schools in Madrid, Spain, that were run by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and because we wanted our children to receive a religious education, we registered them in a school sponsored by another religion. Because our children were the only members of our Church attending this school, we hoped they wouldn’t become targets of religious discrimination.
One day in October 1999, our son, age 16 at the time, brought us an invitation from school to attend a lecture and discussion titled “Religious Sects: Mormonism.” The lecture was to be given by a prestigious authority known for having devoted a good part of his life to the study of religions, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in particular.
Fearing that an inaccurate impression of our beliefs might be given, I got in touch with our stake president and informed him of the meeting. He took note of the date and place and asked me to speak with the Church’s Public Affairs Department to see if a representative could attend and answer any questions that might arise.
When the date arrived, my wife, my son, and I went to the school. The hall where the lecture was held seated 500. Once we had taken our seats, our eyes sought any other Church members who might be in the large crowd that was filling the room. Soon we discovered Brother Quirce of Public Affairs. He gave us a friendly wave from the other side of the room.
The meeting started, and the director of instruction introduced the speaker, heaping praise upon him and giving a detailed accounting of the universities where he had obtained his degrees, both academic and ecclesiastical. The speaker began his talk by briefly summarizing the history of Christianity from the time of Jesus Christ and His Apostles until the year 1830, when the world first began to hear of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, organized in America.
The speaker was not too severe in his appraisal of our faith. It was obvious he had read many of our books because he frequently quoted verses from the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants. He also read extensively from the Prophet Joseph Smith’s account of the First Vision. It appeared he intended to lead his listeners to the conclusion that if Mormonism were indeed a sect, as he believed, it was not one of the more dangerous ones.
I took notes of all the things I thought to be in error, such as when he said that Mormons were not Christians and that Joseph Smith had copied the Book of Mormon from an old American novel. The lecture was quite detailed and ended after more than 90 minutes, at which time the hall erupted into resounding applause.
When the applause was over and the discussion began, the first person to get to his feet was Brother Quirce, who introduced himself as a member of the Church. He explained how Joseph Smith had obtained the golden plates and what his contribution had been as the Prophet of the Restoration.
As I listened to Brother Quirce, I suddenly felt the need to get up also and clarify certain concepts so that everyone present might know the truth about our doctrine and our beliefs.
When I told my family I wanted to speak, my son was frightened and said, “No, Dad, please. Don’t say anything, because everybody here knows me, and I could have problems with my teachers.” I thought it cowardly for me to let Brother Quirce be the only one to speak, but I didn’t want my son to have problems, so for the moment I remained silent. As time passed, however, I could feel the increasing insistence of the Spirit.
I again told my family what I was feeling, and my son continued to express his opposition to my getting up. Finally, no longer able to resist the influence of the Spirit, I slowly got up and made my way around the rear of the auditorium to join Brother Quirce. A murmur of surprise arose from the crowd: “It’s another Mormon.”
As Brother Quirce concluded his remarks, I put my hand in my pocket to draw out the notes I had taken, but to my surprise my pockets were empty. I had left the notes at my seat. At just that moment it was my turn to take the floor.
I didn’t know where to begin. Everything I had intended to say disappeared from my mind. I began by saying that I had been a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for 26 years and that I knew it is the only true Church on the earth, that Jesus Christ had restored it through the Prophet Joseph Smith, that Jesus is the Son of God—our Savior and Redeemer.
I don’t remember how long I talked or all the words I said. I just remember that the silence was overwhelming and that I could feel the gaze of 500 pairs of eyes upon me. When I was finished, I thanked those present for giving me an opportunity to express my beliefs and turned and left the hall. I was at peace, but my legs were shaking.
When the meeting was over and I was able to rejoin my family, my son came up to me and said, “Dad, you did the right thing. You bore a beautiful testimony, and you spoke with power and authority. Dad, I’m proud of you!”
My son knew he might have problems at school because of what I had done, but it was more important to him to know his father has a testimony he is willing to stand up for.