“In order for us to be strong and to withstand all the forces pulling us in the wrong direction or all the voices encouraging us to take the wrong path, we must have our own testimony. Whether you are 12 or 112—or anywhere in between—you can know for yourself that the gospel of Jesus Christ is true. Read the Book of Mormon. Ponder its teachings. Ask Heavenly Father if it is true. We have the promise that ‘if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost’ (Moroni 10:4).”
“I believe my first experience in having the courage of my convictions took place when I served in the United States Navy near the end of World War II.
“Navy boot camp was not an easy experience for me, nor for anyone who endured it. For the first three weeks I was convinced my life was in jeopardy. The navy wasn’t trying to train me; it was trying to kill me.
“I shall ever remember when Sunday rolled around after the first week. We received welcome news from the chief petty officer. Standing at attention on the drill ground in a brisk California breeze, we heard his command: ‘Today everybody goes to church—everybody, that is, except for me. I am going to relax!’ Then he shouted, ‘All of you Catholics, you meet in Camp Decatur—and don’t come back until three o’clock. Forward, march!’ A rather sizeable contingent moved out. Then he barked out his next command, ‘Those of you who are Jewish, you meet in Camp Henry—and don’t come back until three o’clock. Forward, march!’ A somewhat smaller contingent marched out. Then he said, ‘The rest of you Protestants, you meet in the theaters at Camp Farragut—and don’t come back until three o’clock. Forward, march!’
“Instantly there flashed through my mind the thought, ‘Monson, you are not a Catholic; you are not a Jew; you are not a Protestant. You are a Mormon, so you just stand here!’ I can assure you that I felt completely alone. Courageous and determined, yes—but alone.
“And then I heard the sweetest words I ever heard that chief petty officer utter. He looked in my direction and asked, ‘And just what do you guys call yourselves?’ Until that very moment I had not realized that anyone was standing beside me or behind me on the drill ground. Almost in unison, each of us replied, ‘Mormons!’ It is difficult to describe the joy that filled my heart as I turned around and saw a handful of other sailors.
“The chief petty officer scratched his head in an expression of puzzlement but finally said, ‘Well, go find somewhere to meet. And don’t come back until three o’clock. Forward, march!’
“As we marched away, I thought of the words of a rhyme I had learned in Primary years before:
Dare to be a Mormon;
Dare to stand alone.
Dare to have a purpose firm;
Dare to make it known.
“Since that day there have been times when there was no one standing behind me and so I did stand alone. How grateful I am that I made the decision long ago to remain strong and true, always prepared and ready to defend my religion, should the need arise.”
“Although the world has changed, the laws of God remain constant. They have not changed; they will not change. The Ten Commandments are just that—commandments. They are not suggestions. They are every bit as requisite today as they were when God gave them to the children of Israel. If we but listen, we hear the echo of God’s voice, speaking to us here and now. …
“Our code of conduct is definitive; it is not negotiable. It is found not only in the Ten Commandments but also in the Sermon on the Mount, given to us by the Savior when He walked upon the earth. It is found throughout His teachings. It is found in the words of modern revelation.
“Our Father in Heaven is the same yesterday, today, and forever. The prophet Mormon tells us that God is ‘unchangeable from all eternity to all eternity’ [Moroni 8:18]. In this world where nearly everything seems to be changing, His constancy is something on which we can rely, an anchor to which we can hold fast and be safe, lest we be swept away into uncharted waters.”
“I assure you that our Heavenly Father is mindful of the challenges we face in the world today. He loves each of us and will bless us as we strive to keep His commandments and seek Him through prayer.
“How blessed we are to have the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. It provides answers to the questions concerning where we came from, why we are here, and where we will go when we depart from this life. It gives meaning and purpose and hope to our lives.”