“That They May Know,” New Era, Oct. 1977, 35
When Bob Dunton answered the door, there were two Mormon missionaries standing on his doorstep, and one of them had a Book of Mormon in his hand. “A friend of yours has asked us to give you this,” they said. “Please read it and call us if you want to know more.”
Inside the cover Bob found a photograph of his friend Marvin Hansen and a letter. In the letter Marvin testified that the Book of Mormon was true and explained how he gained his testimony through reading the book and praying about its contents. He had been telling Bob about the Church for several years and Bob had been to church a number of times and was good friends with many Mormons, but he had never received a testimony. Now he began reading a little doubtfully. A wonderful Baptist grandmother would be hurt if he accepted the Church. Marvin had called special attention to Moroni, chapter ten, verses four through five [Moro. 10:4–5], and as Bob read these verses, his imagination suddenly caught fire. Time after time he was drawn back to these verses, and to prayer. At his invitation, the missionaries began giving him the discussions, and within two months he accepted baptism into the Church.
The Book of Mormon was the first missionary tool of the Church and has always been one of the most effective. Through applying its unique promise, many have come to know for themselves that it is the word of God and that the Church is true.
“And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
“And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.” (Moro. 10:4–5.)
The challenge, of course, is in getting people to read the book and pray sincerely about it. Bob Dunton was one of thousands who have come into the Church because of a simple, effective program that helps people do exactly that. Briefly it consists of giving someone a Book of Mormon with your testimony and your picture glued or taped to the inside cover.
When the missionaries came to the student council of the Olympus High School Seminary in Salt Lake City, Utah, and asked for some proselyting help, Lissa Naumann suggested that they use this method. She had been introduced to it in a Sunday School class and had been so impressed that ever since she had been giving away copies of the Book of Mormon to close friends, strangers she met on trips, and even customers at her part-time job. She was put in charge of the project along with Matt Carpenter, who handled publicity. Lissa got busy buying copies of the Book of Mormon, preparing instructional handouts and displays, and cutting out several hundred sheets of Book of Mormon-sized paper for testimonies. During part of each class period for three consecutive days, the spiritual representative in each class explained the program to the students, sold them copies of the Book of Mormon, provided paper, took their pictures, and gave them time to write their testimonies. It was suggested that each student prayerfully select a friend and write the testimony to him or her personally. The book could then be given in person or delivered by the missionaries. If any of the students did not feel they had any friends who would accept a book, they could address their testimony to “Dear Friend,” and the missionaries would see that an investigator received it.
Some 500 copies of the Book of Mormon were purchased under this program, and a number of people are being taught by the missionaries as a result. At the outset of the program, the council determined that if one person came to know that the Book of Mormon was true, the program would be a success. Bob’s conversion fulfilled that goal and caused some internal rejoicing in the hearts of seminary students as well as some very external whoops of joy in the seminary halls and classrooms. But Bob wasn’t really the only convert. A number of faithful young members of the Church gained a much stronger testimony of the Book of Mormon as they read through it in preparation for writing the letters to be placed in their gift copies.
These are a few of the steps recommended by the student council for preparing copies of the Book of Mormon to give away:
1. Through prayerful consideration, choose the person to whom you would like to present your book.
2. Write your testimony of the truthfulness of the book, the influence it has been in your life, and how you would like to share that happiness with them.
3. Place your picture in the upper right-hand corner of the testimony page.
4. Address the nonmember by name if possible. Otherwise address the letter to “Dear Friend.”
5. Express appreciation for the nonmember’s friendship if you know him or her well.
6. Tell how the Book of Mormon has helped make your life meaningful and tell how you received a testimony of its divinity.
Explain how you feel it will help your friend live his or her life more happily.
Encourage your friend to read the Book of Mormon and take up Moroni’s challenge. (Page 520, Moro. 10:3–5.)
7. End with a statement such as “Please let me know of your success,” so that you might continue the bond of friendship.
If you want your influence to extend beyond the circle of your friends, you may want to prepare a Book of Mormon and then give it to the missionaries to be used wherever it can do the most good. If you wish, you can include a photo of your entire family and make it a family project. The John R. Poulton family of Salt Lake City, Utah, treasures several letters from people who have received the Book of Mormon from them in this way through the missionaries.
Mike Newsome, a young man in North Carolina, wrote to them: “It’s been nearly a year and a half since I joined the Church, and I still remember a family smiling and silently encouraging me from a photo. Thank you for helping me to be free. I try to keep wrapping more and more light around me to protect me from the ever-encroaching darkness. Now I have a fighting chance against a fallen world. How grateful I am to Christ for all he has done for me. I am unable to express the gratitude, the love, and the hope I have in him. Ideas, knowledge, and potential in life have opened up exciting vistas and an endless terrain of straight and narrow. This pure and sweet church is true. I love it with all my being. I am able now to face life with no fears except to wonder if I will be able to endure.
“And if I do, I hope that if I don’t meet you in this life, then maybe in the next.”
Lawrence C. Alamargo of the Philippines wrote to the family: “We received the Book of Mormon you sent, and we have read it already. It inspired the whole family. The Book of Mormon was handed to us by the elders who taught us the gospel of God. We were baptized December 25th, and the gift of the Holy Ghost was the most precious gift we ever received in our lives.”
Patricia Norman of Nashville, Tennessee, wrote: “I received a copy of the Book of Mormon that you donated to the Church through two missionaries. It was through this book and their teachings that I was able to receive the most precious gift of baptism last Saturday. That was a day I will always remember.”
You already know how happy it makes you feel to give a gift on Christmas or a birthday. If you want to know what it’s like to give the most precious gift on earth, share the gospel with somebody. And if you can’t decide how to start, why not buy a copy of the Book of Mormon, write your testimony in it, and offer it to the missionaries or a friend. If you’re not sure whether it’s worth the trouble, ask Bob Dunton or Mike Newsome. Or ask almost anyone at the Olympus High Seminary.