It all started so small—just one young boy kneeling in the woods to ask God one simple question: Which of all the churches was right? From that tiny seed have sprung the divine visitations, revelations, ordinances, and blessings we call the Restoration. Today temples dot the earth from Ghana to Manhattan. The words of prophets and apostles are translated into Chinese and Estonian. Missionaries take the Book of Mormon to Mongolia and Armenia. All of it came from a tiny seed sown in faith.
But for all its global reach, the Restoration still hasn’t touched the lives of many who are closest to us—our friends, our neighbors, our coworkers, even some of our own family members. And thus more individual seeds need to be sown.
More than a few of those seeds may be sown through the Church’s newest DVD, The Restoration, included in this issue. It contains a beautiful new dramatization of the First Vision, the history-altering event that ushered in the dispensation of the fulness of times.
After we enjoy the new DVD ourselves, each of us will have an important decision to make. Will I share it? If so, how, and with whom? Finding answers to those questions may require us to seek inspiration and to look a little deeper into the potential of those we know and love.
If you had met “the former” Marcia Recendez, you might never have added her name to your list of people who might be interested in the message of the Restoration. Deeply committed to another faith, Marcia certainly didn’t seem to be searching for more truth than she already had. With her worldly attitudes and lifestyle, she might not have seemed “golden.”
In fact, after her friends William and Leslie Sheffield gave her a Book of Mormon, Marcia read it only so the Sheffields would be more willing to listen to her arguments against their beliefs. “I was really in anti-Mormon mode,” Marcia recalls.
But Brother Sheffield looked deeper and recognized Marcia as an intellectually honest person. “I knew she would not be afraid to go where truth might lead her,” he says.
It’s not so surprising that Brother Sheffield would recognize a fellow truth seeker. After all, his life was transformed by his own search for truth some 20 years ago. As a superior court judge in California and a self-professed agnostic, William Sheffield had, nevertheless, begun praying to know the answer to an insistent question in his mind: Was there a God who had a plan for him? Every day for a year as he drove to work he listened to a Bible preacher on the radio. Finally he became convinced that the answer to his question was yes and that the Lord wanted him to do something much different with his life. So he resigned his judgeship, and he and his wife traveled to New Haven, Connecticut, where he entered Yale Divinity School to prepare for the ministry.
But the real preparation for his life began on the Sunday he walked into the New Canaan (Connecticut) First Ward with his wife, who was a less-active member at the time. That first Sunday the bishop told him the Joseph Smith story, and William Sheffield knew he had to find out if it was true.
The seed was planted. And the harvest has been bounteous. After reading the Book of Mormon and learning the doctrines of the Restoration, William Sheffield realized he was being taught “pure, unadulterated theology.” He was baptized in November 1985 and several years later served as the Church’s general counsel in Asia. He was even invited to tell his conversion story in general conference.1 Perhaps most miraculous of all, though, is the personal transformation he has experienced. “I’m a different person now. I’ve felt the Holy Spirit working in me and changing me,” says Brother Sheffield, a member of the Capistrano Second Ward, Laguna Niguel California Stake.
Now, in its turn, the seed the Sheffields planted in the life of Marcia Recendez has begun bearing its eternal fruit. After reading the Book of Mormon, Marcia realized that for her, too, there could be no turning back from the truth it contains. Six years ago she was baptized. And the rich blessings of the Restoration have come flooding into her life.
Sitting in the celestial room of the San Diego California Temple recently, Sister Recendez, now a member of the San Clemente Second Ward, Laguna Niguel California Stake, started remembering what it was like to not have the blessings of the Restoration in her life. She didn’t know about living prophets and apostles. She had no access to priesthood blessings and ordinances. Most important, she didn’t understand that God was her Father and that He had a plan and purpose for her life. “As I sat there in the temple,” she recalls, “I thought, ‘This I didn’t have. This I didn’t know.’”
Today Marcia Recendez has home teachers and visiting teachers. She has a bishop who cares about her. “I have the companionship of the Holy Ghost, true scriptures, and counsel from prophets and apostles,” she says. “I have been endowed with power from on high. I have been washed clean.”
One of her greatest blessings is that her son, who had been mired in a worldly lifestyle, has also been baptized and has recently returned from serving in the Chile Antofagasta Mission. And she enjoys greater, less tangible blessings too. “My thoughts and motivations have changed. I have more peace, more clarity, more purpose, more self-worth. All these things have been added to my life because of the Restoration.”
The Prophet Joseph Smith himself compared the Church he helped restore to a mighty tree springing from a tiny seed: “Let us behold it coming forth out of the ground, … branching forth, yea, even towering, with lofty branches, and God-like majesty, until it, like the mustard seed, becomes the greatest of all herbs. And it is truth, and it has sprouted and come forth out of the earth, … and God is sending down His powers, gifts and angels, to lodge in the branches thereof.”2
Reaching out to share the wonderful blessings of the Restoration may begin with so small a thing as sharing a DVD with a friend. But then so many great things begin with a tiny seed that is carefully nurtured.
Copies of The Restoration in both DVD (item no. 54742) and video (item no. 53742) formats are available for purchase at distribution centers, on the Internet at www.ldscatalog.com, or by calling 1-800-537-5971 (in the U.S. and Canada only).