Fast and Testimony Meetings
April 2019


Fast and Testimony Meetings

I love fast and testimony meetings! February 5, 1984—my first experience attending The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was a dramatic turning point in my life. I felt the Spirit and did not even recognize it, because I did not know the Spirit. The Savior speaking to his disciples about this precious gift of a member of the Godhead said, “Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you and shall be in you” (John 14:17). The Lord in his tender mercies reached out to me through President Allen and the two other members who bore pure, heartfelt testimonies about the Savior Jesus Christ and the Book of Mormon. I felt the still, small voice assuring me that I was in good company and those people were my brothers and sisters regardless of our diversity. The feeling of being in a servant relationship, which almost took me out of the chapel, vanished. I made up my mind that day, that this was the church I wanted to belong to.

Following that initial fast and testimony meeting experience, I looked forward to each subsequent fast and testimony meeting. I would fast and take the opportunity to bear my testimony. Since English is my second language, I had difficulties expressing myself during that period of my life. Therefore, I would write my testimony on a piece of paper and read it. After a few months of writing and reading my testimony, my branch president called me into his office and said that a testimony is a spiritual witness given by the Holy Ghost. He admonished me to prepare myself spiritually and to listen to the impressions I received. He asked that I be prepared to share those impressions rather than writing down my testimony as a talk. He reminded me of my first day at church when I stood and shared my testimony. He encouraged me to have faith and bear my testimony from the heart without written notes.

I accepted this challenging invitation. What I did not say to my branch president was how difficult it was for me to compose sentences, let alone express myself in the English language.

At the fast and testimony meeting following the counsel from my branch president, I stood up and walked to the pulpit. I stood at the pulpit without saying anything for what I thought was a full minute. I couldn’t remember the words I had memorized. Since I was told not to read my testimony, I wrote it down and spent the whole week committing it to memory. Finally, when I could speak, I spoke in a haphazard way. The words were meaningless in my own mind. The congregation just looked at me in a very strange way. I felt terrible.

It took me a few months to gain enough confidence to be able to bear my testimony again. After my unfortunate experience, I resolved not to bear my testimony. I did not want to embarrass myself. I would sit and listen to others sharing their testimonies. I watched and listened to each brother and sister carefully. I felt their spiritual witness of the Savior Jesus Christ, the reality of the first vision, and that Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ appeared to the boy Joseph. I was inspired by each affirmation that the Book of Mormon teaches and testifies of Jesus Christ and that it is indeed another testament of Christ.

On each succeeding fast and testimony meeting, my motivation welled up from a new and more compelling source. My soul was hungry for spiritual nourishment. I was like a starving man. I couldn’t get enough. The sincere expression and the words were mellow and soothing to me—more than that, they rang true. Words cannot express my feelings. It was as if I had experienced such a feeling of ecstasy somewhere before in a dim past. I felt the Lord’s love for me and a desire to want to be better.

I fought the urge to share my testimony each fast and testimony meeting. Then one Sunday as the meeting was about to end, I couldn’t hold back. I stood where I was and declared my own witness of the Savior. I declared “the things which [I] have heard, and verily believe, and know to be true” (Doctrine & Covenants 80:4). I knew then as I now know, that bearing a testimony is a blessing not only to me, but to those who are touched by it. A year after the Church was organized in these latter days, the prophet Joseph Smith met several elders returning from Independence on the bank of the Missouri River. Joseph received this revelation regarding the importance of bearing one’s testimony: “Nevertheless, ye are blessed, for the testimony which ye have borne is recorded in heaven for the angels to look upon; and they rejoice over you, and your sins are forgiven you” (Doctrine & Covenants 62:3).

Since that Sunday, whenever I have an opportunity, I bear testimony of the Savior and His Atonement. I bear testimony of how the Book of Mormon has changed my life through its prophecies and teachings. I felt then, just as I do today; peace, comfort and a consistent desire to change for the better. I feel compelled to share my testimony as a service to others.