The question was simple. Your responses were not. In our May 1991 issue, we asked readers how the Book of Mormon has changed their lives. We received answers from eighteen different nations—from Canada and Guatemala, from Pakistan and the Philippines, from Ireland and the Persian Gulf, from South Africa and Sierra Leone. We heard from the old and the young, new converts and long-time members, parents and teens.
The diversity of the responses reflects the diversity of the Church; the singleness of the messages reflects the unifying power the gospel brings among Church members. As with one voice, the letters repeated: “The Book of Mormon is the word of God; having read it, we will never be the same again.”
Beverly Sorensen of Oak City, Utah, wrote that the Book of Mormon has had a subtle but nevertheless profound effect on her life—or, more precisely, on her family’s life. “Fourteen years ago I heard President Ezra Taft Benson, then President of the Quorum of the Twelve, plead with us to return to the practice of daily family devotionals. This so touched my heart that we began holding family devotionals every morning, gathering for a hymn, prayer, and scripture reading.
“We began with the Book of Mormon, reading it out loud. When we finished a year later, I wondered what we should read next. A soft answer came: Read it again. Our devotionals have now taken us through the Book of Mormon fourteen times.
“The greatest benefit we have received from our reading is our family’s life-style. I couldn’t see it at first, but now it is apparent that our spirits have been growing. Reading the Book of Mormon has given everyone in our family strength to live the commandments. It brings a spirit of peace into our home and has made us more service-oriented. Reading the Book of Mormon helps us put our choices in an eternal perspective.
“I believe that people become like the books they read and the people they associate with. Reading the Book of Mormon gives us the best of the Nephite civilization to associate with each day.”
Margaret Durtschi of Ogden, Utah, explained that all her life she has struggled with a learning disability. Having grown up at a time when programs for those with learning disabilities were not available in the schools she attended, she failed to learn to read while in school. She wrote: “It wasn’t until I was an adult and determined that I wanted not only to learn how to read but also to gain a testimony of the gospel” that her life began to change. “With the help of my dear, patient husband and much prayer, I read the Book of Mormon.” She then went on to read other Church publications, and she now reads well.
Others reported challenges of a different nature. Pam Kazmaier of Mesa, Arizona, for example, read the Book of Mormon only after receiving it from some missionaries and carrying it around from move to move for eight years. “I am still amazed at the powerful change that book has made in my life,” she wrote. “From the first chapters, I recognized that this book was scripture. My heart quickened as I felt God speak to me through those inspired words.”
Pam’s experience was immediately instructive. In spite of her first reaction, she says that a stubborn part of her “rebelled against the principle of obedience. Even if this book was true,” she told herself, “did that mean I had to be Mormon? I shuddered at the thought of joining such a strict religion. I had thoughts like, What’s wrong with partying a little? You only live once. There might be some punishment in the afterlife—but isn’t God merciful?”
Almost immediately she came across the passage in 2 Nephi 28:8: “And there shall also be many which shall say: Eat, drink, and be merry; … and do all these things, for tomorrow we die; and if it so be that we are guilty, God will beat us with a few stripes, and at last we shall be saved in the kingdom of God.” [2 Ne. 28:8]
Pam described how the Book of Mormon helped prepare her further for baptism: “Though I hadn’t had a lesson yet on the Word of Wisdom, I found as I read the Book of Mormon night after night that my intake of alcohol gradually decreased. I used to consume three beers a night; but as I read the book, I found that I dropped back to two beers, then one. I remember one night standing in the kitchen with the Book of Mormon in one hand and a can of beer in the other. After a few sips, I threw the beer away, thinking that it tasted funny. It was not until several months later that I associated my lost taste for beer with the power of the Book of Mormon.”
Over and over again, always the same but never the same, the story is repeated: the first scripture of the Restoration, restored by faith, continues to restore faith. What follows is a small sampling of the many stories we received, each bearing testimony of Christ’s power to comfort and heal through the pages of the Book of Mormon.