"You will be an official representative of the Church. . . . Your purpose will be to invite others to come unto Christ . . . Greater blessings and more happiness than you have yet experienced await you as you humbly and prayerfully serve the Lord in this labor of love among His children. We place our confidence in you." Thomas S. Monson

Monday, January 26, 2015

Bringing the World unto Christ: A Testimony of the Book of Mormon

Bringing the World unto Christ
A Testimony of the Book of Mormon
by Elder Preston Jenkins

For several years now, the "Book of Mormon" musical has been sweeping through many US cities, finally making its way to Jacksonville this week.  I have heard many things about it including it’s well written and its fictional plot follows two Mormon missionaries in Uganda, Africa.  As a missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints serving in Benin and Togo (West Africa), I have been called to share God's restored truth with this blessed people.  I can testify from mine own experiences of the power of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ coupled with Holy Scripture and prayer to change people's lives not only here on earth but for eternity.

During my nearly two years of service here in West Africa, I have come in contact with many people whose lives have been so touched by their faith in Jesus Christ and the Book of Mormon.  I once had the opportunity to have a private conversation with a middle-aged man whom I have been privileged to call a friend.  During this conversation, he recounted to me his life story.

Not many years ago, this man's native country, Ivory Coast, was engulfed in civil war.  My friend was caught in a firefight and took a bullet to the upper thigh.  Immobilized and unarmed, he soon found himself on death's doorstep with a pistol up to his head.  Speaking of this, he said to me, "I had never before, nor have I since, prayed with more strength for God to save my life and spare me."  Miraculously, my friend was left to live, but his leg was proving to be eminently more fatal.  He was able to crawl out of the middle of the road and find aid and shelter offered by kind-hearted, charitable people.  He explained to me that ever since that day, he had been looking for why God had spared him.  Why such mercy?  What must he accomplish?

As he was recounting this to me, suddenly my friend's voice lowered and, marked by tears, he said, "Elder Jenkins, I know why God spared my life.  He wanted me to find the truth, and I found it!  This is why he gave me my life!"  I marveled at this mighty change in him as I saw him walk almost 4 miles on hand-crutches for our Church services every Sunday.

A second example is a young man who has become a very close friend of mine.  He was very devoted to his childhood church, yet he graciously accepted my missionary companion and I in his home.  He accepted our message with an open heart and a curious mind.  When he received the Book of Mormon, he studied it fervently seeking for truth.  Through prayer and the power of the Holy Ghost, he received an answer from God that this book was true.  One day, he exclaimed to us excitedly and passionately, "I've learned more in studying the Book of Mormon for two weeks than I did in eight years of seminary in my childhood church!"

I share my testimony, with these two shining examples, of the power and light that is contained in the Book of Mormon.  The Book of Mormon coupled with the Bible gives us the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  In this book, we learn of Christ (2 Nephi 25:26), and His doctrine (2 Nephi 31).  We learn of mighty examples to follow (Alma 48:11-13, 17).  We learn that ancient prophets have seen our day (Mormon 8:34-35).  This book truly was written for our generation, and though these ancient prophets have long left this earth, they speak unto us with a voice like a "whisper out of the dust" (Isaiah 29:4; Moroni 10:27).

I know through mine own personal witness that the Book of Mormon is true.  I have seen the power of God manifest among the people in Africa.  Hearts have been touched, lives changed, and communities lifted.  I know and testify that all who receive Jesus Christ and the fullness of His gospel will be blessed and received in God's kingdom.

I invite you to ask yourselves, "Have I read and studied this book with humble and sincere consideration?  Have I given this book the in-depth investigation and spiritual quest it merits?"  If you have not, I invite you and urge you to do so.  The Lord's formula is simple: read, ponder, and pray in faith to ask God in the name of Jesus Christ.  If you follow this pattern, God will reveal the truth of all things unto you (Moroni10:3-5).  I testify of this and promise you that it is true because He has done it for me.

I invite you to visit mormon.org where you can chat real-time with real Mormon missionaries.  On this site, you can also contact real Mormon missionaries in your area.

As a witness and representative of Jesus Christ, I pray that all who view the "Book of Mormon" musical remember that the book is always better.

Note from Mom: This is a letter that Elder Jenkins wrote for our local paper, The Florida Times Union, in response to The Book of Mormon Musical coming to town.  The letter that was published was very heavily edited by the paper, but it can be found here: http://jacksonville.com/opinion/letters-readers/2015-02-03/story/lead-letter-actual-book-mormon-better-musical 

If you have questions, you are always welcome to contact him here via the blog and I will forward it on to him or you are welcome to write to him directly at preston.jenkins@myldsmail.net .

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