One day I returned home from work. It had been a particularly difficult day, and I felt the burdens of the world. I was extremely fatigued, emotionally and physically. I had not been home long when I felt impressions of the still small voice that I should go to the home of a woman that I had visit-taught for a number of years. She had been inactive for many years. Many times I would try to visit her, but I was often unsuccessful in my attempts. On the few occasions when I was able to visit her, I came to know that she had a strong belief in a Heavenly Father but had been offended many years previously and had difficulty with some of the teachings of the Church. When I felt impressed that I should go to her home, my first response was, “Not tonight. I am so tired. It can wait until tomorrow.” But, as is often the case, the impressions continued to come more strongly. Finally I drove to her home, thinking, “Why am I doing this? She probably won’t answer the door.” I knocked on the door, and soon the door opened. I could tell she was extremely distraught. She invited me in. Her first words were, “How did you know to come?”
I responded that the promptings had been there. For the next several hours we talked about her desperate family situation, her suicidal feelings, and her sense of hopelessness. I prayed that I might know how to comfort her as the Savior would do. The words came, the promptings came, and I began to see a calm come to her. That night forever changed my relationship with her and forever changed my relationship with the Savior. Now I never have trouble getting into her home or making contact with her. I no longer question the Spirit’s promptings when they come, for I recognize them more clearly. We have had many opportunities for gospel conversation.
What did I learn about the Savior that night? I learned that He loved this dear sister regardless of her current standing in the Church. I learned how He comforted as I listened to the promptings I received as I talked with her. Did I know my Savior better after that night? Yes! I learned the Savior trusted me enough to let me participate as He met her needs.
One day when I was seven years old, in my father’s place came a man with a somber face who stood at the door and told us that my father had been killed in an accident.
That day I was silent. I looked at my four-year-old brother and my mother, so young and alone, and I did not cry. I didn’t think it could be true, so I went to the window and stared at the street. I began to feel an unbearable force pressing down on my shoulders, a weight that would not let me breathe normally, a pressure that oppressed me.
Not long after my father’s death, I went into my room alone at the fading light of sunset and, as I had been taught, prayed to my Heavenly Father. I pleaded with Him to let me see my beloved father again, just to hug him. In my heart I was certain that Heavenly Father could give me this miracle.
That day I didn’t get to see my dad or hug him, but I was given much more. It was as if I felt the hands of the Savior on my shoulders. His presence was almost tangible as He removed the weight that pressed down on my chest.
Now, over 20 years later, that relief has never left me. At times I have felt sadness but never emptiness at the loss of my father. I can look back and see how many times the Spirit has come to console me, help me, and show me the way to follow the Savior’s precious steps. I can feel His presence in my life thanks to that first trial, which helps me see everyday trials with an eternal perspective. I know it is the gospel in our lives that allows us to feel the invisible caress of the Savior’s hand.
I was born in 1986. Soon after birth, I was diagnosed with cerebral palsy secondary to congenital hydrocephalus. Hydrocephalus, called “water on the brain,” is a condition in which an individual has either too much or too little cerebrospinal fluid. In my now 28 years of life I have had more than 50 surgical procedures for these conditions.
…on what felt like the darkest and most dismal night I had ever faced, I forgot the many blessings I had received from the Lord. I thought only of the sorry state of my life. My negativity engulfed me, and I began to doubt all I had been taught about my Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. A loving God, I rationalized, would not have left me alone to face this nightmarish reality. Worst of all, no one knew what I was going through. My family felt a portion, but they did not fully understand how painful my experiences had been. No one did.
I was about to voice these thoughts in prayer when I heard my name. Through my anguish I recognized the voice of the Spirit, carrying a message to my soul from my Savior reminding me I was not alone. Jesus Christ knew what I was going through. He had felt my pain.
As the message resonated in me, doubt was replaced by shame. In my self-pity, I had forgotten about Jesus Christ. I had been taught much about how the Savior suffered for our sins. I had forgotten that in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross, the Lord had also borne my grief and carried my pain (see Isaiah 53:4; Alma 7:11). This reminder forever changed the way I look at the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
One of my most sacred moments was when I was able to reconnect to the Atonement and Jesus Christ. It was a very personal experience that showed me just how much the Lord knew me individually, and how I would learn. How real the Atonement is, and His ability to heal. It rebuilt my crumbled foundation stronger than ever and I began to hold onto Jesus as my lifeline. It was the hardest healing journey I have ever gone through, but I had miracle upon miracle that lifted me up and quite literally molded me into a completely different person.
I began reading the scriptures differently, actually understanding and applying them. While I was doing everything “right,” I still felt a great burden of guilt. Then I started to focus my studies on Christ and His Atonement, how He could be my Savior and how His infinite Atonement could redeem my soul. One night while meditating upon all I had learned from those prayerful studies, I felt the Spirit touch my heart, heal my soul, and comfort me. I felt secure and loved, and my guilt left.
When my parents got divorced, I felt that all my hope of having an eternal family had ended. It was a very hard moment in my life. However, even though it wasn’t easy for me to recognize, that trial brought unforeseen blessings to my family. For one, my mom got baptized!
I also was able to get to know my Savior better. To get over my sadness, I chose to visit an aunt in Peru, where I met a new friend who strengthened me greatly. That friend and I often studied the scriptures together and during one special occasion while we were discussing gospel topics, I felt the love of my Savior for me very strongly. The feeling was like the voice of my Savior telling me, “I have always been with you; you just couldn’t tell.”
Feeling powerless to change my feelings, I cried out in prayer, “Father, please help me forgive—through the power of Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of this world.” A feeling of peace swept through my body, and I felt renewed in every part of my being. In amazement, I thanked Heavenly Father for the gift He had given me. My hurt was swept away, my pains were erased, and love beyond description filled my heart. I was experiencing the power of the Atonement. I recalled Alma’s language, “There could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains,” but on the other hand, “there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy” (see Alma 36:21).
Having now tasted the delicious fruit of the Atonement, I could not bear the thought of ever carrying my burdens alone again. I realized that the command for daily repentance meant that I needed a time for daily renewal, a time to have my spirit cleansed, a time to forgive and let go of even the little hurts so they would not find a place in my heart in which to fester.
Our challenges did not disappear, but a spirit of peace filled me with love and helped us work through them. Perhaps I will never find adequate words to describe the difference the Atonement of Jesus Christ has made in our family.
I remember feeling the weight of years of secrets lift as my bishop listened. I recall his pure tears as he heard my story. I felt the love of Heavenly Father, and I felt reassured that the abuse was not my fault and that I was still pure and virtuous. This was the beginning of my path to healing, a path that would continue for many years.
There wasn’t just one moment of healing—it was a process of peace, understanding, and answers that came as I studied my scriptures, prayed daily, and became more acquainted with Jesus Christ. As I studied the Savior’s life, I felt increasing love for Him. The Spirit testified truths to me, including my own worth as a daughter of God. As I submitted my heart to the Lord, obeyed His commandments, and sought His will, I was filled with comfort and peace. As I came to know Him, I began to know myself. Eventually, my past didn’t hurt anymore. The burden was removed. The Savior had healed me.
When Sage was first wheeled into the burn unit, the medical staff had little hope that she would make it through the night. “They gave her a 10-percent chance of living,” Michael remembers. She had third- and fourth-degree burns on her face, arms, chest, and legs. Her nose and one ear had been melted off. Her fingers were so charred that they would have to be amputated. She lost 35 percent of her eyelids. One lung had collapsed, and another was barely functioning; a quart of soot would be extracted from them.
She was also in a coma.
Somehow, Sage hung on to life, and two days later the doctors felt she was strong enough to receive the first of what would eventually be eight skin grafts. Then she developed pneumonia.
“All we did those first ten days was cry and pray,” says Michael.
…Both Michael and Denise credit Sage’s survival to the skill of the medical staff who attended her and to the faith and prayers of the members of their new church.
“We found out immediately what the Church was all about,” Michael says. “The ward held some special fasts—we didn’t even know what a fast was at the time—and many people came to give their support. Sage received many priesthood blessings.”
One of the first blessings was given by Robert DeBuck. “When Robert blessed her,” his wife, Ruth, recalls, “he told her to go where it was safe—into Heavenly Father’s arms. We lived for a long time on faith in that blessing. We believe that’s where she was.”
Months later, Sage gave evidence of the efficacy of that faith. One day Denise asked her if she remembered anything at all during those first six weeks. Sage said she remembered being with Jesus.
A little skeptical, her mother asked, “What did he say?”
“I told him I loved him, too. I said I wanted to stay, but he told me I had things to do. Then he was gone.”
Through the years, my circumstances have changed. I was a single woman, then the wife of a nonmember, then a partner in a temple sealing, a mother, a mother-in-law and grandmother, and now a widow. I have known the Savior’s love in all of these circumstances. My own faith has been rewarded as I have felt the Savior’s presence and power in my home.
I really, really wanted to know the truth. So it was the first time in my life I ever prayed like this, with all the faith I had. I prayed for two weeks. Then one night I went to sleep and received a vision of the Father and Jesus Christ. I mean, I actually seen them! They were standing there and their feet weren’t touching the ground. When I looked upon them I could see the fire of eternity burning within them!
Well, let me tell you; let me tell you what I saw…The street was like glass, and it looked like God was sitting on a throne. It was so beautiful, so beautiful to see! He had on red—well, I guess it was Jesus with the red—so he had on white and it was amazing! So, so amazing that I had a dream like that.” Sheera pauses and moistens her lips, and I’m expecting her to tell me the significance of the dream; instead, she moves on. “So I’ve just had strange things happen to me before I joined the church. A lot of things I hear now in church are things I heard before. It was like, preparing me—even when I was a kid in South Carolina I was preparing, preparing for the Church.
I turned to the scriptures and found hope, strength, and understanding in the Savior’s words. I reflected on how his words had already blessed and lifted me. I wrote in my journal: “The tides of self-pity, self-reproach, and self-destruction rage against my shore. And at my shore the Savior is ever there, building—shoring up—protecting against the onslaught—telling me I have value—telling me to believe in myself. His is the voice I prefer to hear, the voice I must heed.”
Opportunities came to rebuild belief in myself. Priesthood counsel and blessings offered me divine comfort. Through the Savior’s great love, my strength and courage were bolstered.
Perhaps I didn’t fully understand then, as I sang “Amazing Grace” with a fully mended throat at the festival, that I was singing about the very power that had healed me just the day before. The Savior’s Atonement had blessed me that day; His grace was the source of my healing.
But my perspective has changed as I have embraced motherhood with one arm. I once thought I was one of the people who most looked forward to the Resurrection and the idea of being made whole. But now I am not in so much of a hurry. Increasingly, I feel the Atonement working in my life now. I have realized that the healing power need not begin only when the Resurrection occurs. The wholeness has already begun when, every night, one of my children tenderly holds what remains of my arm and slips into slumber. This realization has been just as meaningful to me as any miracle of physical healing.
It was the Savior’s healing power that I felt most throughout my reading of the Book of Mormon. Verse after verse testifies of His grace, mercy, compassion, and infinite love. As I read about Jesus Christ, I felt overwhelmed with gratitude for His sacrifice. One of the greatest miracles I experienced while reading was the feeling of complete forgiveness for a series of poor choices made years ago. I felt as though the Savior was speaking directly to me as I read. In my heart I felt the words, It’s time to move on. Christ literally provided the healing I needed.
I witness this peace will come into our lives as we heed the teachings of Jesus Christ and follow His example by forgiving others. As we forgive, I promise the Savior will strengthen us, and His power and joy will flow into our lives.
The tomb is empty. Christ lives. I know Him. I love Him. I am grateful for His grace, which is the strengthening power that is sufficient to heal all things.
Fiona has a dear friend who suffered an unspeakable atrocity when just a little girl. Geographically isolated as she was, there was no one to hear her cries or to aid her. In order to survive, as many do, she tucked the horror into the depth of her subconscious mind. Still, the effects continued to haunt her, marring all aspects of her life. She suffered a series of further setbacks and abandonments. Even after she became a member of the Church, she continued to bear the psychological trauma bound up in the hidden memory, in addition to single-mother travails. Still, she remained faithful—accepting callings and attending sacrament meetings week after week and year after year. Fiona marveled at her courage and tenacity. There was no evidence of any respite or healing. Yet, still, she came. Then one day, out of the blue, she approached Fiona with the words: “I have something important to share with you.” Disconcerted, in spite of her earnestness, that she should approach Fiona in a location she would never have associated with the sacred, Fiona was nevertheless roused from her discomfort by the following words—words that often precede revelatory experience: “I do not know if I was awake or asleep, . . . but last night the Savior appeared at the foot of my bed. He was weeping. He called me by my name and spoke: ‘I am so sorry for your life. I am so sorry for your life,’ which, while weeping, he continued to repeat until I awoke the next morning to find my pillow bathed in my own tears.”
At first, I felt, “Okay, we’ve done this before; we can do it again.” I felt his presence with me every day, having many more spiritual experiences with this trial, but something seemed to be changing this time. After about three months, I found myself getting angrier and angrier with the Lord. How could He take another son? I found myself slipping into depression, but even more than that, I was having anxiety so bad that I couldn’t even fall into a deep sleep. It seemed like everything that I had ever been through was haunting me now. There was fear and panic, literally 24/7. This went on for about three months, to the point that now I was becoming suicidal. My husband was begging me to get on some anxiety pills, for fear of what was going to happen to me. I took time to pray about this decision and was told this was not the way the Lord wanted me to handle this. I was to learn my source of strength was to come through Him.
About this time, my husband had given me a book titled The Infinite Atonement, by Tad Callister. I didn’t get into it right away; in fact, it took me about another month to pick it up and start reading it. But once I did, it had such a profound impact on my life. For the first time ever, I realized the Atonement was so much more than a process used for repentance. I realized that the Atonement was literally part of Jesus Christ Himself, with all the enabling powers of His grace that He gives to us in our weaknesses, if we will but submit to Him.
Through much prayer and learning, the anxiety and depression were lifted. I learned different coping skills through obedience to the Lord, and my conversion deepened again.
I was in the Pioneer Stake conference when my mother, Sarah Jeremy Anderson, spoke after having been desperately ill for a week previous to the conference. I can remember the power of the administration prior to that when she was promised that she would arise from her bed and fill her assignment. I can remember how quiet the room was at the conference as she spoke and how we could hear the clock tick when suddenly she stopped. I saw my mother look up, turn very pale, and be unable to speak for a while and then go on with a radiance in her face I will never forget. When she returned home she told us that as she looked up she saw the feet of the Savior with the nail prints in them. She was weak but well and bore this testimony in sacred places and appropriate times all her life.
Brother and Sister Willard Bean served a mission in Palmyra, New York, from 1915 to 1940. As part of their assignment, they were involved in the purchase by the Church of the sacred Hill Cumorah nearby. It was there that the angel Moroni showed young Prophet Joseph where he, Moroni, as a mortal man, had hidden the metal plates containing the records of Christ’s visit with his children in ancient America, from which the Book of Mormon was translated.
Visitors were constant in the succeeding years, and as the Bean family grew, so did the guests. Sister Bean was responsible for caring for the needs of these important visitors, the proselytizing missionaries, and her own family and the home. She prayed constantly that she might be able to carry forth this heavy burden in a way that would maintain the beauty and sacred spirit of the place, the domestic demands, as well as carry forth as a loving wife and mother.
One very difficult day, her prayers were answered in a dramatic way that forever after secured in her heart, mind, and soul a witness of the Lord Jesus Christ. The following report was recorded when Rebecca Rosetta Peterson Bean revealed this experience in a talk given in 1964, at a Salt Lake City fireside.
It was a hot summer day and we had a lot of visitors that day It had been a hard day for me. I had a baby just a year old, and I had carried my baby around on my arm most of the day to get my work done. It was too warm. Everything had gone against us. We had had lunch for our visitors, and we had had supper at night, and I had put my children to bed. Dr. [James E.) Talmage was there and some missionaries, and we had really had a wonderful evening talking together. They all seemed tired and I took them upstairs and showed them where they could sleep, and I came down and thought, Well, I’ll pick up a few things and make things easier for in the morning.
But I was so weary and so tired that I was crying as I went straightening things around a little. Everybody was in bed and asleep but me. I looked at the clock and it was eleven o’clock. I said, “I’d better call it a day.” I went into my room and… it was peaceful and quiet. I got ready for bed, and I was crying a little. I said my prayers and I got into bed and I was crying on my pillow. And then this dream or vision came to me.
I thought it was another day. It has been a wonderful morning. I had prepared breakfast for my visitors, and my children were happily playing around, and I had done my work and cared for the baby, and he was contented and happy. I prepared lunch, and I called my visitors in to lunch and we were all seated around the table, my little baby in the high chair. Everything was peaceful and wonderfully sweet. There was a knock at the front door, and there was a very handsome young man standing there. I just took it for granted that he was another new missionary come to see us.
And I said, “You’re here just in time for lunch. Come with me.”. As I walked through the little hall into the dining room, I noticed he laid some pamphlets down on the table there. I introduced him around, and then I said, “Now you sit right here by Dr. Talmage, and I’ll set a place for you.” I thought he was strange to all of us, and yet he and Dr. Talmage seemed so happy to see each other, and they talked about such wonderful things while we were eating. Some of them we could hardly understand. But the spirit that was there in the meal was so peaceful and nice, and everyone seemed so happy to be together. After the meal was over, Dr. Talmage said to the missionaries, “Now let’s go outside and just linger here and enjoy the spirit of this wonderful place, because we’ll soon have to leave.” I put my baby to bed, and the other little ones went out to play, and then I was alone with this young man.
He thanked me for having him to dinner, and told me how much it meant for him to be there, and he told me he thought that the children were so sweet and well trained, and I felt happy about that, and then we walked in the hall together. He said, “I have far to go, so I must be on my way.” Then I turned from him just a moment to pick up these little pamphlets that he had laid on the table, and when I turned back to him it was the Savior who stood before me, and He was in His glory. And I could not tell you the love and sweetness that He had in His face and in His eyes. Lovingly, He laid His hands on my shoulders, and He looked down into my face with the kindest face that I have ever seen, and this is what He said to me: “Sister Bean, this day hasn’t been too hard for you, has it?” I said, “Oh no, I have been so happy in my work and everything has gone on so well.” Then He said, “I promise you if you will go about your work as you have done it this day you will be equal to it. Oh, remember these missionaries represent me on this earth, and all that you do unto them you do unto me.”
And then I remember I was crying as we walked through the hall onto the porch, and He repeated the same thing: “These missionaries represent me on earth, and all that you do unto them you do unto me.” Then He started upwards. The roof of the porch was no obstruction for Him to go through, nor for me to see through. He went upward and upward and upward, and I wondered and wondered how I could see Him so far away. And then all at once he disappeared, and I was crying on my pillow like I was when I went to bed.
I bear humble testimony to you that never again was there any frustration in my soul. Never again did too many missionaries come that I couldn’t find beds for them to sleep or enough food to give them, and the great love I had for missionaries even then became greater after what the Savior had said to me. And how I wish that every missionary that went out in the world could feel that his love and his guidance is only a prayer away. They teach his gospel, and how much they mean to him.
Because He was God—even the Son of God—he alone had the power of resurrection. And so on the third day following His burial, He came forth from the tomb alive and showed Himself to many. There were witnesses then who saw Him. There have been many in this dispensation who have seen Him. As one of those special witnesses so called in this day, I testify to you that He lives. He lives with a resurrected body. There is no truth or fact of which I am more assured or more confident than the truth of the literal resurrection of our Lord.
And now, as pertaining to this perfect atonement, wrought by the shedding of the blood of God—I testify that it took place in Gethsemane and at Golgotha, and as pertaining to Jesus Christ, I testify that he is the Son of the Living God and was crucified for the sins of the world. He is our Lord, our God, and our King. This I know of myself independent of any other person.
I am one of his witnesses, and in a coming day I shall feel the nail marks in his hands and in his feet and shall wet his feet with my tears.
But I shall not know any better then than I know now that he is God’s Almighty Son, that he is our Savior and Redeemer, and that salvation comes in and through his atoning blood and in no other way.
I bear my witness that the Savior lives. I know the Lord. I am His witness. I know of His great sacrifice and eternal love for all of Heavenly Father’s children. I bear my special witness in all humility but with absolute certainty…
Now, I wonder with you why one such as I should be called to the holy apostleship. There are so many qualifications that I lack. There is so much in my effort to serve that is wanting. As I have pondered on it, I have come to only one single thing, one qualification in which there may be cause, and that is, I have that witness.
I declare to you that I know that Jesus is the Christ. I know that he lives. He was born in the meridian of time. He taught his gospel, was tried, was crucified. He rose on the third day. He was the first fruits of the resurrection. He has a body of flesh and bone. Of this I bear testimony. Of him I am a witness.
We lay no claim to being Apostles of the world—but of the Lord Jesus Christ. The test is not whether men will believe, but whether the Lord has called us—and of that there is no doubt!
We do not talk of those sacred interviews that qualify the servants of the Lord to bear a special witness of Him, for we have been commanded not to do so.
But we are free, indeed, we are obliged, to bear that special witness.
…I am a witness to the truth that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, the Only Begotten of the Father; that He has a body of flesh and bone; that He knows those who are His servants here and that He is known of them.
I know that He directs this Church now, as He established it then, through a prophet of God.
During those days of unconsciousness I was given, by the gift and power of the Holy Ghost, a more perfect knowledge of His mission. I was also given a more complete understanding of what it means to exercise, in His name, the authority to unlock the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven for the salvation of all who are faithful. My soul was taught over and over again the events of the betrayal, the mock trial, the scourging of the flesh of even one of the Godhead. I witnessed His struggling up the hill in His weakened condition carrying the cross and His being stretched upon it as it lay on the ground, that the crude spikes could be driven with a mallet into His hands and wrists and feet to secure His body as it hung on the cross for public display.
…I cannot begin to convey to you the deep impact that these scenes have confirmed upon my soul.
That word know is a very important word for those 15 men who are Apostles. [It expresses] the sacred experiences and the confirmation that there is a certainty that our Father in Heaven lives and that His Son, Jesus Christ, is our Savior—not a hope, not a belief, not a wish, but an absolute, confirmed certainty…Our Father in Heaven is real. His Son, Jesus Christ, is real. I know that personally and bear certain witness because I know the Savior.
“He had a true apostolic witness of Christ as the resurrected Savior,” his son Michael Scott said. “Let me repeat, he had a true apostolic witness of Christ as the resurrected Savior.”
I am a witness of the Resurrection of the Lord as surely as if I had been there in the evening with the two disciples in the house on Emmaus road. I know that He lives as surely as did Joseph Smith when he saw the Father and the Son.
This is the true Church of Jesus Christ. We will on the Day of Judgment stand before the Savior, face to face. It will be a time of joy for those who have drawn close to Him in His service in this life. It will be a joy to hear the words “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” I so testify as a witness of the risen Savior and our Redeemer.
I know that God is at all times and in all ways and in all circumstances our loving, forgiving Father in Heaven. I know Jesus was His only perfect child, whose life was given lovingly by the will of both the Father and the Son for the redemption of all the rest of us who are not perfect. I know He rose from that death to live again, and because He did, you and I will also.
…These things I declare to you with the conviction Peter called the “more sure word of prophecy.”
During the years of my life, I have gone to my knees with a humble spirit to the only place I could for help. I often went in agony of spirit, earnestly pleading with God to sustain me in the work I have come to appreciate more than life itself. I have, on occasion, felt the terrible aloneness of the wounds of the heart, of the sweet agony, the buffetings of Satan, and the encircling warm comfort of the Spirit of the Master.
I have also felt the crushing burden, the self-doubts of inadequacy and unworthiness, the fleeting feeling of being forsaken, then of being reinforced an hundredfold. I have climbed a spiritual Mount Sinai dozens of times seeking to communicate and to receive instructions. It has been as though I have struggled up an almost real Mount of Transfiguration and upon occasion felt great strength and power in the presence of the Divine. A special, sacred feeling has been a sustaining influence and often a close companion.
I have a certain knowledge that Jesus of Nazareth is our divine Savior. I know that He lives. From my earliest recollection I have had a sure perception of this. As long as I have lived, I have had a simple faith that has never doubted. I have not always understood, yet I have known through a knowledge that is so sacred to me that I cannot give utterance to it.
I humbly acknowledge that these many experiences have nurtured a sure knowledge that Jesus is our Savior and Redeemer. I have heard His voice and felt His influence and presence. They have been as a warm, spiritual cloak. The Lord has promised that “every soul who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me, and calleth on my name, and obeyeth my voice, and keepeth my commandments, shall see my face and know that I am.”
When I was called to the holy apostleship many years ago, my sure witness prompted me to testify on that occasion in these words: “I understand that a chief requirement for the holy apostleship is to be a personal witness of Jesus as the Christ and the Divine Redeemer. Perhaps on that basis alone, I can qualify. This truth has been made known to me by the unspeakable peace and power of the Spirit of God.”
Since accepting that call many years ago, my certain witness has been greatly magnified. This is because of my undeniable testimony that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.
“A testimony of what I believe:
I have a testimony. Well, not just one. I have many which are of many things. I can testify first and foremost of the love of my Heavenly Parents. Throughout my life, I’ve been blessed with feeling their love and presence when I am studying the scriptures, praying, in need of comfort, or at random times. I’ve felt the love of my Father in Heaven as I serve others. I’ve felt the love of my Mother in Heaven, as I strive to be a better son and brother. I have heard the voice of God in my life through his Holy Spirit. He has spoken to me as a man speaks to his friend. The times have been few in number, but they’ve been powerful and undeniable. I’ve seen His hand in my life, giving me guidance, protecting me, and letting me know that no matter how far from His path I may stray, His hand is stretched out still, inviting me home.
I’ve tried to not believe in God, but I can’t. No matter how much I may try to deny or ignore it, He is there. He answers prayers. His love is real, not just for me but for all His children. The love of my Heavenly Parents is something that I know of from the experience of others, from the scriptures, from creation, and from my own life.
This love is most powerfully manifested in the form of their Son. If my allegiance, my heart, and my faith is pledged to anyone who has ever lived, it would be that I extend to Christ Jesus of Nazareth. Though separated from his mortal ministry by a millennia and thousands of miles, the redemption He has wrought in my behalf is the sole source of hope that I have in this fallen world. Because of Him, I can approach the Throne of God. Because of Him, I can be healed of my woundedness. Because of Him, I know that I and my family can live again, together. He is enough. His Grace is enough. It’s enough to win over my rebellious stony heart. It’s enough to change it to a heart of flesh, turned outward to serve my fellow man. It’s enough to cause me to cry in repentance due to my sin. It’s enough to convince me that my own efforts are insufficient, and that ultimately for salvation I must rely on his merits alone to save and redeem. Due to my love for him, I strive to live as He lived. I strive to be follow the path he has laid for me so that I might be sanctified and perfected in Him. His Atonement is real, and by relying on Him I’ve been able to access His Grace so that I might be more through Him than I ever could be alone. I know He lives. He died and as he suffered he knew he was doing so for me and all those living before, during, or after His life. Not a day goes by where I do not think or speak of Him. Though I fall short in my sin, still I try to live as He did, by loving, serving, and strengthening unconditionally. I am confident in my standing before my Creator because of Christ and what He has done for me.
I testify of God’s love for His children as seen in the holy scriptures. To those receptive to His Word, He has spoken and inspired; revealing great truths throughout mankind. Of particular significance in my life are the testaments of his Son found in the Holy Bible, the Book of Mormon, and other revealed texts of my faith tradition. According to the understanding of the people they were given to, they all testify of the presence, love, and work of God in the lives of His children. By studying them, I’ve grown closer to my God and my Savior. I can testify of their value, inspiration, and truthfulness.
I have a testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Second to Christ alone, he may well be the individual who has impacted, changed, and inspired my soul the most. I will proudly bear witness to himself, his work, the Restoration he ushered in, and the God he loved and served until his final breath. Through him came the Book of Mormon and other sacred texts, through him came the Restoration of the Gospel and its Priesthood, through him came the ordinances of the temple which serve as divinely appointed gates to pass through in making sacred covenants with God and thus growing in communion with Him. I have a testimony of the Restoration and all it entails and has yet to entail.
I have a testimony of a modern day prophet, Russell M. Nelson who carries the same authority as Joseph. He is inspired by Christ to lead His physical Church. He is a man of God who serves in love. I am confident in that.
While there are many other things that I could testify of, the most important to me is that I know that I am loved by God, redeemed by Christ, and part of his covenant community in His Restored Church. My reason, my study, my prayers, and my powerful subjective experiences with the Divine have led me to be comfortable and confident in this faith. I bear witness of these things in the name of my Savior, even Jesus Christ.
I joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint in my early 20’s. I was in graduate school on my way to a Ph.D. in psychology. I was raised as a Christian protestant but did not attend in my early adult yeas. I was basically an atheist but would not claim that because it was not possible to prove there was no god. I was very cynical about religious people, thinking they were uninformed or hypocritical. My conversion came about, in part, as a result of seeing a deep down genuiness in some active members of the “Mormon” church. Seeing this began to soften my opinion of religious people. The notable conversion experience came one day as I was driving, don’t think I was focused on any particular thought, but had a sudden feeling that I should join the Church. Now, I didn’t even believe in an interactive god but the experience was so profound, so sudden, down deep inside of me, so unlikely, that I could not account for it other than a communication from a source outside of myself (from a God). To deny the reality of it would be like saying I did not have any intestines. My first prayer was, “God if you exist and if you care about what happens to me, you see the direction I am going and you need to let me know if it is not correct”. Family and friends were flabbergasted at my announcement that I was going to join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. All signs were on go and I joined the Church shortly thereafter. Now, this was a pretty unusual spiritual experience but it was not a complete testimony.
Within my first year of membership, I read a lot of “anti-Mormon” literature. Some of it was unsettling but I decided to check it out when I could. Over time, I found it was a combination of lack of proper information, hostile feeling, and sometimes outright false fabrication. It wasn’t until many years later I decided to sit back and look at just the empirical evidence of the reality or religious concepts. Not the philosophical or inspirational sense from the scriptures but the concrete evidence that came from scholarly data outside of the scriptures themselves. I found the journey to be much more complicated than I thought it would be. I assumed there was not much, if any data as I had found in my pre-conversion days, but I had never really gone to the scholarly sources. As I suspected, there was almost no extra-biblical evidence supporting the religious content of the Old and New Testaments. There was reasonable archeological support for locations of some places, some proper names, and some major secular events but support for the religious aspects, there was basically no evidence yet found (does not mean it won’t eventually be found). The critics were providing hypotheses attributing the religious stories to identifiable events in the cultures of the writers. Contention, of course, being the religious content was fabricated and included known places and events. I decided to approach the Book of Mormon from the same critical stance. I was aware of a little like information such as American Indian tales, the testimonies of the witnesses who continued to asset the reality of their experiences in spite of serious personal misgivings later in they lives. I always thought if someone were making the book up they would not choose Alma, a predominantly (if not exclusively for Joseph Smith) female name for a major male character. Without going into detail, I wound up with around 250 pages of single spaced typewritten pages of notes. I was, frankly, taken completely off guard by the quantity and quality of scholarly work that affirmed the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. I can unqualifiably say the Book of Mormon would not have been written (too much of it went against the accepted thinking and knowledge of the time) and could not have been written (too much of it contained information that was not known and even ridiculed at the time but later confirmed) by human hand at the time of Joseph Smith or even100 years later. Revelation is the simplest and most logical explanation for how the Book of Mormon came about. The Book of Mormon is what it claims, an ancient document of actual people. Since the Book of Mormon is a reality, it also strongly supports the Old and New Testaments in terms of the reality of an interactive God, Jesus as the Christ, and several other things.
Now, I have briefly outlined an intellectual testimony that came about over time. I have, for many years tried to be faithful in attending meetings and crying out assignments. In later years, I have been a temple worker. As I have done these things and considered the spiritual aspects, I have developed a definite and concrete sense of the reality of God and of Jesus Christ and their interaction with us and the reality of the purpose we have while here on the earth. There have been times, I have almost physically felt their presence right next to me. Now, I have a skeptical nature and am comfortable with it, but I have both an intellectual and spiritual knowledge that God is real, that Jesus Christ is real, and the love they have for us, for all of us. They know what we are going through and they hurt when we hurt and feel joy when we feel joy. There is a purpose for each of us being here and we can accomplish the goals set before us, no matter what we have done in the past or who we have been. Being a sincere and active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the single most important thing I have done in my life.