I was a little stressed out. It was seventh period, and by the end of school I had to turn in my biography, which would be read to 500 of my classmates at a prom assembly. What did other people honestly want to hear about me? I wasn’t popular like everyone else selected for the honor of being on the prom court. Did anyone really care?
Suddenly, a girl named Sammy piped up, “Shelby, you’re a funny guy! Just be yourself.”
Then Derek chimed in, “You’re always talking about your church. Why don’t you say something about that?”
Jokingly I responded, “Why don’t I just offer everyone a free Book of Mormon? That would be a bit different.”
Everyone laughed and dared me into actually doing it.
I scribbled something down and read it to my classmates. They laughed and said they liked it. So, I turned it in.
The day of the assembly came, and I was a bit nervous. I didn’t exactly hang out with the “popular crowd” on the weekends. Most of the kids on stage had been royalty on multiple occasions, and they acted like it was routine. I sat back and casually tried to fit in.
Before I knew it my senior class began filing into the auditorium. The class president took care of some class business and then started introducing the prom court. I sat, nervous and excited, up on the stage and listened as the other biographies were read. The girls stood up one by one and were escorted by guys from the court. They walked into the aisles of the auditorium while someone continued to read their biographies as they made their way around the auditorium and back to the stage.
Then my turn came. I escorted a girl and headed for the aisle. I could hardly take the anticipation as I waited for them to get to the part about the Book of Mormon. How was everyone going to react? What would people say about me?
I finally heard the announcer read, “One of the most important things to him is his church. Speaking of which, if anyone would like a free copy of the Book of Mormon, feel free to call him or just ask him, and he’ll be more than happy to get you a copy.”
There was a slight snicker in the crowd. Some church members might have thought, “If only they knew he wasn’t joking!” or maybe, “Shelby’s gone a bit overboard this time.” Other kids may have groaned, thinking, “There he goes again. He’s always talking about his church.”
There were, however, a couple of students who took notice. Three friends came up to me during that next week and asked if they could have a copy of the Book of Mormon. I don’t know who was more surprised when I asked for three copies of the Book of Mormon—the missionaries or me. I made sure all three of my friends got a copy and offered to have the missionaries teach them. Only one of my friends, Joel, said yes.
Joel started coming over to my house a couple times a week to meet with the missionaries. It was really fun. The missionaries were such good teachers. The things they taught about—the Apostasy, the Restoration, and the Book of Mormon—just made so much sense. Joel seemed to agree.
One day the conversation moved to baptism. The missionaries turned and looked at Joel and said, “Joel, will you follow the example of our Savior, Jesus Christ, and be baptized by someone holding the proper priesthood authority?”
Suddenly, I couldn’t breathe. My mind started racing. What in the world had I done? Missionaries were talking to my friend about baptism! What would he say or think? Would this affect our relationship forever? All I could do was sit and eagerly await his response.
Joel paused, looked at the missionaries, and said, “That’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot. Yes. I think it’s something I want to do.”
I really liked what I was hearing. Joel continued to take lessons at my house and was eventually baptized.
Looking back, I wish I had been a better missionary in high school. It’s so easy. All I did was randomly ask if anyone wanted a Book of Mormon. Three kids took me up on the offer, and one was baptized.
While sharing the gospel can be easy, it is also a skill. That skill will only come through prayer, scripture study, talking with more experienced members, and plain old practice. All the Lord expects of us is our best. It is His work. We need to pray for those experiences and then follow the Spirit and open our mouths when those opportunities come.
After seeing the excitement missionary work can cause, I want to to share the gospel with people for the rest of my life.
Illustrations by Dilleen Marsh