Why I give out the Book of Mormon. Sun, Dec 25, 2005.
A story told by Marion D. Hanks in Leon Hartshorn's "Outstanding stories by General Authorities" strikes a chord with me.
It's entitled "Boy, We Really Have a Swell Bathroom, Haven't We?" on page 107.
One man tells another "You folks ought to take up skiing like our family and have fun the year round."In 2003 someone in a rental car smashed into the corner of my car while it was parked. I received a few thousand dollars from the rental car company as compensation, but it was several hundred dollars short of the repair estimates, and I didn't get it repaired.
"Doesn't that get pretty expensive?"
"It's funny. We live in an old-fashioned house -- legs on the tub, that sort of thing. For years we've been saving up to have the bathroom done over. But every winter we take the money out of the bank and go on a couple of family skiing trips. Our oldest boy is in the army now, and he often mentions in his letters what a great time we had on those trips. You know, I can't imagine his writing home, 'Boy, we really have a swell bathroom, haven't we?'"
In 2004 I used part of that money to buy copies of the Book of Mormon, and later Gospel Principles Gospel Fundamentals, and Joseph Smith Testimony pamphlets to give out. It's been 19 months since I started giving out the books in June 2004, and it's kind of snow-balled from what I originally thought I was going to do.
I don't know how much of a difference has been made in the lives of the recipients of the books that I've given away. I don't know if it has gone beyond the short-term pleasantness of someone receiving a gift of a book in their native language. But I've learned a lot about how the Lord works, how he has his hand in all things, and how he uses various forms of revelations to accomplish his purposes.
The Book of Mormon is one of the tools the Lord used in my conversion. As I read it for the first time in the early 80's, I desired with all my heart to know if it was true, committing myself to follow it, and embrace the church that presented it. During that first sitting with the Book of Mormon, the Holy Ghost poured the knowledge of its truthfulness into me, and whispered to me "It's him!" as I read of the Lord's visit in the book of 3rd Nephi. I recognized and felt the same Spirit which 10 years earlier had burned into me a knowledge that Jesus Christ was real. After reading 3rd Nephi, I read the pamphlet "The Prophet Joseph Smith's Testimony" and had a similar manifestation of the Spirit that what I was reading actually happened. My testimony of the Book of Mormon and of the Prophet Joseph Smith came from the same source as my testimony of the divinity of Jesus Christ, and with almost as much power. (There's more to my conversion story, but this will suffice for now.)
I take joy in the hundreds of those small moments of seeing someone else happy and pleasantly surprised when I give out the Book of Mormon or a Sunday school manual. Knowing that hundreds of people now have copies of the Book of Mormon in their native language and in English, and having faith and hope that the pure in heart will recognize it as God's truth, is worth more to me than being able to say "Boy, I have a swell car, don't I?"