Campfire Stories and Testimonies

“Therefore, declare the things which ye have heard, and verily believe, and know to be true” (D&C 80:4).

Ring! It was the final bell of the school day on Friday afternoon. I jumped from my desk and raced to the door. My friend Kent had invited me and two other boys to camp out that night by his house. I had been looking forward to it for two weeks.

When I got home from school, I gathered my sleeping bag, pillow, flashlight, comic books, and a bag of snacks. When I got to Kent’s house, he and his father were just spreading out the tent. We took turns hammering the stakes that kept the tent secure on the ground.

Then Kent’s dad barbecued hamburgers, and we all played hide-and-seek in the woods. As soon as the sun went down, we turned on our flashlights and went exploring.

After a while, Kent’s mother called us all back from the woods and told us it was time to settle in for the night. We ran into the tent, laid out our sleeping bags, and got comfortable. Soon we were sharing snacks and listening to some of Kent’s amazing adventure stories. Kent always made us the heroes in his stories. We could always fly, and we always saved the day.

As it got late, everyone was tired and began to fall asleep. I could hear the crickets chirping in the night air and a train passing in the distance. I began to think about Kent’s stories. I realized that even though Kent had told me a lot of great stories, there was one important story he didn’t know. It was the true story of Joseph Smith and the Restoration of the gospel. The more I thought about it, the more I felt I should share this special story with my friend.

“Kent, are you still awake?”

“Yes. What’s up?”

My heart started beating a little faster and I felt anxious, but I kept talking.

“I was just wondering. Do you believe in God?”

“Yes, of course,” he said.

“Do you believe in the prophets in the Bible?”

“Yes,” Kent said as he sat up in his sleeping bag.

“Well, what if I told you that we have a living prophet on the earth today, just like in the Bible?”

“What do you mean—a prophet like Moses?”

“Yes, that’s exactly what I mean.”

“Well, that’s something new,” he said. “Tell me about it.”

My anxious feeling began to melt away, and excitement grew in its place. I told Kent about the Prophet Joseph Smith and how the gospel was restored to the earth. I told him about the living prophet and apostles on the earth today.

When I finished, I asked Kent what he thought about it.

He was quiet for a few moments. “I think that’s an amazing story that I really need to think about. Do you really believe it?”

“Yes, I really do.” I felt warmth inside my chest, and I knew I had said what Heavenly Father wanted me to say. I said a silent prayer that Kent would find out for himself that what I had said was true.

I later learned that Kent did pray to find his answer. He also shared what he had learned with his parents. Soon Kent’s family was studying the gospel and meeting with the missionaries. It wasn’t long until Kent’s whole family was baptized and confirmed members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Although many years have passed since then, Kent and I are still great friends. We both served missions, and we attended Brigham Young University together. I’m so glad that I took the time to share the gospel with my friend.

Elder M. Russell Ballard

“When we are truly converted, we cannot be restrained from testifying.”

Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “Pure Testimony,” Liahona, Nov. 2004, 41.

Illustration by Richard Hull