The Trial of My Faith

Read the Book of Mormon in two months? After my accident, I couldn’t read at all!

“Our Area Presidency has challenged us to read the Book of Mormon before stake conference. Will you try?” my dad asked me. “I’ll try,” I said reluctantly. I was reluctant because I had recently been in a bicycle accident and had received a serious concussion. I remember the exact date of my accident—27 July 1993—because it was my younger brother Brent’s 12th birthday.

The morning of Brent’s birthday, I did not have a present for him, so I decided to ride my bicycle to a store to find something. The store was not far away, but getting there required riding along a busy state highway. Thinking I would be safer, I rode on a seldom-used sidewalk that ran by some condominiums not far from my home. Toward the bottom of a hill, the sidewalk became uneven and was covered with sand, dirt, and plants. The sidewalk was not easily seen from either the highway or the condos. I headed down the hill, picking up speed as I went, but my trip didn’t take me where I had planned to go. I ended up in the hospital instead.

I have no memory of what happened. All I remember is the pain. I later learned that two teenage boys found me. They contacted a neighbor, who called my mom and the paramedics.

Five days later, I was still delirious. I had more than 40 stitches over one eye and on my chin, and bandages covered other cuts and scrapes. While I was in the hospital and at home, many loving people in our ward visited me and brought me gifts—although I can’t remember most of it.

Later, when I was feeling better, my parents had a speech pathologist test me. The tests showed moderate to severe impairment of my ability to retrieve general information, organize thoughts, and speak intelligently. My mental age had dropped. Although I was nearly 15 years old, I was performing at a 12-year-old level.

One of the most frustrating consequences of the accident was not being able to read. I could see the words, but my mind couldn’t process them. It was almost as if I had forgotten how to read. So my dad’s request that I read the Book of Mormon within a two-month period would be an immense challenge.

That night, I knelt by my bed to pray to Heavenly Father. During my prayer, I felt strongly that if Heavenly Father wanted me to read the Book of Mormon, He would help me. After the prayer, I got up, sat in bed, and opened the Book of Mormon to the first page. I slowly looked at the words in front of me and began: “I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents …” I was reading! I could actually understand the words! Part of me was totally amazed and excited. Yet part of me wasn’t surprised at all. Somehow I had a complete assurance that I would be able to read the Book of Mormon if it was the Lord’s will and if He was helping me.

After only one month, I finished reading that great book of scripture. The Lord and the Book of Mormon had taught me how to read again. More important, my faith in Heavenly Father increased, as did my testimony of prayer and the scriptures. That faith and testimony sustained me years later as I served as a full-time missionary in the Korea Seoul West Mission.

I’m grateful my dad challenged me to read the Book of Mormon. Because of that challenge, I was able to understand that Heavenly Father can bless us in our trials. I’m also grateful for miracles—not only for the miraculous coming forth of the Book of Mormon and the miraculous Restoration of the gospel, but also for miracles that happen today to people like me.

[illustration] Illustrated by Sam Lawlor