While I was growing up, reading the scriptures was not emphasized in our small branch, and very few young people could afford their own sets of scriptures. I tried to read the Book of Mormon but never seemed to get past 1 Nephi. I knew I would have to read more someday, but the real motivation didn’t come until my mission.
Two weeks after I arrived in the mission field, my companion announced that we were scheduled to meet with a family to present a discussion. I was new, so I told my companion he would have to do the talking and I would provide moral support.
That evening we met in a humble home crowded with a family and their friends. I found a chair almost out of sight behind a big pot-bellied stove. My companion presented the lesson, and I was pleased and proud of the clarity of his message and the apparent acceptance of the group. We received permission to meet again the following week.
When we arrived for our next visit, I noticed a newcomer—a large man dressed in a suit. He was introduced to us as the family’s minister, and he said he wanted to hear what we were telling the members of his congregation. His appearance intimidated me, so I quickly found my chair behind the stove.
My companion again began the discussion. This time, however, he was constantly interrupted by the minister, who challenged every point my companion made and tried to refute it with other scriptures. I was not able to contribute anything. When my companion finally finished, the minister stood and condemned us, saying that we were preaching the doctrine of the devil and that we should go back to Utah and ask the Lord to forgive us for deceiving these people.
I was shaken and confused. That night I slept little, but I made a clear, firm resolution. I had to find out if what I was teaching was the truth—for if it was not, I knew I could not spend two years doing work I did not really believe in.
The next day I began to earnestly read the Book of Mormon for the first time. I read every day, every chance I could get. For the first time, I got past 1 Nephi. I was engrossed in the story, in the trials of the Nephites and their wars with the Lamanites. I learned about Jacob, Enos, King Benjamin, Ammon, Alma, Mosiah, and other great prophets in the first half of the book.
Then I began reading the latter part of the book of Alma. I immersed myself in the discourse of Alma to his son Corianton. Then I read Alma’s discussion of the Atonement. I had never read anything so clear. It penetrated my mind and heart. It was as though the Spirit opened my mind to matters beyond my understanding. The laws of justice and mercy became clear, and I knew then, more than ever, that Jesus Christ was indeed the Redeemer of the world.
As I completed the Book of Mormon, I knew that the gospel of Jesus Christ that I was preaching was true, and I was proud to be a missionary for the Lord. The testimony I gained through the Book of Mormon has been a bulwark in my life ever since.