“Learning from Joseph Smith,” New Era, Apr. 2005, 29
Joseph Smith was only 14 when his desire to know the truth drew him into the woods near his home to pray. In answer to his prayer, he was visited by God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. They spoke to him, taught him, and answered his prayer.
This First Vision and many other wonderful events of the Restoration of the Church are hard for some to believe. But there are those who know that such a vision did happen in the spring of 1820 in a grove of trees on a small New York farm. Read on to learn from 14-year-olds around the world who believe with all their hearts that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God.
I admire Joseph Smith for all he went through when he was only a teenager. Through it all he was still faithful and had an eye single to the glory of God.
He has taught me many things: to listen to the Holy Ghost, to do what is right, and to stand up for what is true.
I know that he was a prophet of God and that he restored the true Church. Without him we would not have the fulness of the gospel, and I wouldn’t be where I am today. It humbles me. I am grateful for the restored Church.
Viliame Malani, Samabula First (English) Ward, Suva Fiji North Stake
Joseph Smith was very brave to do all that he did. But he was also well prepared, because a vision isn’t given to just anybody. It has to be someone who is prepared.
By following the whisperings of the Holy Ghost, youth today can also accomplish many good things if we will decide to do them.
I know that Joseph Smith saw the Father and the Son and that the Savior counseled him not to join any church. I also know that Joseph Smith was very brave and died defending the gospel. And I know that if we search the scriptures, pray from our hearts, are obedient, and have faith in the Father and the Son, we will be able to return to Their presence.
Camila Eugenia Bardi Aguirre, Buenos Aires Ward, Cartagena Colombia Los Alpes Stake
It is important to know that Joseph Smith could pray and have his prayers answered. But it is also important for me to know that I can have my own prayers answered by God.
I know that the Prophet Joseph Smith endured many difficulties. I know that it is because of him that the Church was reestablished, that the priesthood has been restored to the earth, and that we know more about Heavenly Father and the Savior. I try to follow his good example, but it is difficult. Sometimes I lack the faith. But then I think of what he went through, what he endured for us, and it gives me the courage to be a little stronger, to hold on a little longer. I know that we are in the true Church and that we owe Joseph Smith a great debt of gratitude.
Randy Horita Temarohirani, Mahu Branch, Tubuai Australes District
The Lord answered Joseph Smith’s prayer. He answers the prayers of the youth. I can feel Him answer my prayers too. One day something bad happened between my friend and me. Later, while reading the Liahona, I read a verse that said, “Love your enemies” (Matt. 5:44). It helped me get past what happened, and we became friends again. I feel that was an answer to my prayers.
Joseph Smith also organized missionary work, and through missionary work the Church has grown worldwide. Even as far away as Korea, we can know how to gain eternal life.
Ha-Nul Park, Sinchon Ward, Seoul Korea North Stake
Learning about Joseph Smith while I was small and reading stories about him have helped my testimony to grow. But as I have been getting older, I have been reading the scriptures more and thinking more about his experiences. The feelings I get when I am learning, thinking, or reading about him have helped my testimony to grow even more. Knowing his difficulties and experiences helps me to choose the right when I am in situations that tempt or pressure me to do otherwise.
I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. I know that Joseph Smith really did pray in the Sacred Grove and see our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, who atoned for our sins.
Robin Renae Doney, Essex Ward, Montpelier Vermont Stake
I believe that Joseph Smith was visited by Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and given a special mission to restore the Church. I wonder how I would have reacted if Heavenly Father suddenly appeared. It would have been a tremendous shock for me. But Joseph Smith handled it calmly. He was really dedicated to finding the truth.
When I hear about all he went through to build the Church, it helps me not to complain so much or feel sorry for myself.
Without the Prophet Joseph there would be no Church. And the Church is my foundation.
Spencer Yamada, Manhattan Second Ward, New York New York Stake
One night I read the Book of Mormon and had a peaceful feeling. I knew then that the teachings in the Book of Mormon are true and that Joseph Smith saw Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. I also know that Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon and restored the gospel to the earth.
Joseph Smith had many great trials and tribulations and was able to overcome them. He was also brave to stand up and testify to the preachers and professors of the other churches. Although they persecuted him, Joseph Smith knew that he had seen a vision and had the conviction to follow the truth. Through him, I learned how to stand up for the truth and endure to the end.
Fam Suet Ling Roslyn, Ipoh First Branch, Ipoh Malaysia District
“Joseph went in [to the grove] as a boy. I have wondered at times why the Lord would have him go in as a 14-year-old boy. Why didn’t He wait until [Joseph] was 20 or 30 or 40, when he would have had the weight of authority that comes with age? He went in—the Lord permitted it—and responded to his inquiry because he came in perfect trust as a boy. There was no doubt in his mind. He said that if anyone needed wisdom, he needed wisdom, and he asked for it, with full confidence that something would happen as a result of his prayer. We do not have anything of the words of Joseph’s prayer. But we know that he made inquiry and that a conversation took place. And Joseph Smith learned in those minutes, however long or brief, more about the nature of God than all of the learned divines of all time had ever learned.”
—President Gordon B. Hinckley, “Inspirational Thoughts,” Ensign, Aug. 1997, 3.