As I have now completed my fulltime missionary calling, I am so grateful for this gospel and the chance that I have had to serve in the Canada Toronto Mission. I know that the opportunity for this service has saved my life.
I recently had the sad experience of receiving an unanticipated phone call that my cousin had committed suicide. This was hard news to take. He and I were the same age. We did all the same things. He was probably the most similar cousin that I had. I came to the realization after that phone call that if I hadn’t gone through certain experiences, they would have been burying me as well.
Starting two years ago in my senior year at high school, I was at a turning point in my life. I was unhappy with my life. I saw no point to it. I was severely addicted to pornography and struggling to quit. It was affecting every part of my life. Not only were my academic studies declining but also even my desires to do anything. Honestly, I was scared. I was seeing only failure and disappointment everywhere I looked. I was beginning to have doubts about everything, even the very fact if God was there.
At this time, my cousin decided that the Church was not true. I was faced with a decision of whether or not I would fall away too. I prayed and prayed and read and read but nothing came. I went forward acting on faith. I met with my bishop and filled out my mission application papers. I received a mission call. I had done everything I could. Still, I had no answers about my doubts.
Then, one day in my stake mission preparation class, we had a discussion about the introduction to the Book of Mormon. For some reason, this discussion felt different from all the other classes I had attended. After the instruction part of the class came the role-play activity. I remember that I was paired with the instructor and given the task of explaining what the last two paragraphs of the introduction meant to me. I read aloud the following words:
“We invite all men everywhere to read the Book of Mormon, to ponder in their hearts the message it contains, and then to ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ if the book is true. Those who pursue this course and ask in faith will gain a testimony of its truth and divinity by the power of the Holy Ghost. (See Moroni 10: 3-5.)
“Those who gain this divine witness from the Holy Spirit will also come to know by the same power that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world, that Joseph Smith is His revelator and prophet in these last days, and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord’s kingdom once again established on the earth, preparatory to the Second Coming of the Messiah.” (Book of Mormon, Introduction)
As I read those words, I could feel something begin to grow inside me. After I finished, I began to testify with words that were not my own. It seemed to me as if a spiritual bomb had gone off. I felt consumed by the Spirit. The room went silent as I continued to testify that I knew that the words I had read were true. I witnessed that Jesus Christ is our Savior, that Joseph Smith is a modern prophet, and that Christ has restored His Church in these latter days. All of these truths fit together.
This was a major turning point in my life. After that, I was able to shape up and go on my mission. The journey was long and the climb was difficult, but I am grateful every day that the Lord would see fit to save one like me. I don’t know why I was spared and not my cousin. I don’t know why this journey through life is so hard sometimes. But I do know the following: I know that the Book of Mormon is true. I have now read it eight times. I have prayed about it, and the answer I received is that it is true. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. He saw God the Father and Jesus Christ. That is a fact. I know God loves us perfectly and wholly. That is why Heavenly Father sent His Son to suffer and die so that we can still live after death. The debt of Adam’s transgression has been paid; the grave has been overcome. The plan of salvation has been fulfilled if we but walk the path of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true. We are beings with infinite potential.