Taking the Challenge

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“Taking the Challenge,” New Era, Oct. 1998, 11

Taking the Challenge

Another student was trying to sink me. Good thing I had something to keep me afloat.

“The challenge,” announced Brother Anderson to our institute class, “is to carry a copy of the Book of Mormon with you at all times while on campus. And hiding them in your purses and backpacks doesn’t count,” he added with a chuckle.

Piece of cake, I thought. How hard can it be to carry around a Book of Mormon?

Faithfully, I stacked the Book of Mormon on top of my books, hoping it would attract attention. It did. One look at the trumpeting angel sent most people running for cover. No one wanted to hear about my book or my religion. Not until Lifesaving 101, that is.

My lifesaving class was a small one, mostly competitive swimmers and divers. It was there that Chris*—tan, blond, and built like Mr. Atlas—asked to see my Book of Mormon. My heart thumped wildly as I handed him the book.

“Do you know what it says in this book?” he shouted, waving it over his head. Instantly, all eyes were on him. “It says that there are eight-foot-tall men on the moon who wear long black coats and stovepipe hats. And they all have 20 wives!”

Some missionary tool this is, I thought, as I considered trying to squeeze my 5-foot, 8-inch frame into the two-foot space beneath my desk. What would my teammates think of me? No sooner had that thought appeared when a scripture from the Bible forced it out:

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth” (Rom. 1:16).

I met Chris’s haughty stare with a challenge of my own. “If you can show me where in the Book of Mormon it says anything like that,” I said, “I will leave the LDS church.”

A united gasp rose from the class, followed by a deafening silence. Chris shuffled furiously back and forth through the pages of the Book of Mormon. Finally, thrusting the book back at me, he retreated to his seat, defeated.

I then bore fervent testimony of the Book of Mormon and of the prophet Joseph Smith to Chris and to the rest of the class. No one talked to me much that afternoon during swim practice, except for a quiet guy named Dorian. “May I see your book?” he asked.

Three years later, as Dorian and I knelt at the altar in the Washington D.C. Temple and were sealed for time and all eternity, I was grateful for the challenge of an inspired institute director, grateful too for a prophet of the Lord who challenged us to read daily from the Book of Mormon.

Illustrated by Steve Kropp