Missionary moments: Big Sam

In October 1993 at a regional conference in Raleigh, N.C., Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Council of the Twelve encouraged us to open our mouths and - without fear - spread the gospel. I decided to take this as a personal admonition.

Within two weeks of the regional conference, with the help of the Lord, I managed to place 21 copies of the Book of Mormon with friends, neighbors and those with whom I work.For example, on the very next morning following the conference, I woke suddenly at 4 a.m. I am a safety director of a large construction company. The work crews meet around 4:30 a.m. at the construction office and then go to their various work locations, but I don't usually report to work until 8 a.m. But on this particular morning, I felt prompted to get up and go to the construction office immediately.

I jumped out of bed and was at the office by 4:30 a.m. After looking over the crew, I decided they were not the ones to whom I was sent - at least not at this time. Soon they left, and I was left wondering why I had been prompted to get out of bed so early. I was cold and was leaving to return home when my friend, "Big Sam," walked up. I greeted Sam, and as we stood there in the cold something told me he was the reason I was there.

I said, "Sam, I've known you a long time. I like you; I respect you. Come into my office; I've got something I want to give you."

After we went into my office, I continued, "Have you ever heard of the LDS Church?"

He replied that he had. We had a good gospel conversation, and as I presented Sam with a copy of the Book of Mormon, I said, "Sam, do you want a bag to put it in?"

He replied, "No, I'm not ashamed of it."

As we walked to his car, I warned him that when others found out he had this book, they would have something to say about it, and that may not be good.

He said, "I don't worry about that. I can handle it, and if this book is what you say it is, it might be worth it."

I then knew why I had been awakened so early. After Sam left, I went back to my office, closed the door, knelt and prayed. I thanked Heavenly Father for all my blessings, for Elder Maxwell, for the gospel of Jesus Christ and for "Big Sam." - Hugh Erwin, Harkers Island Ward, Kinston North Carolina Stake

(Another in a series of "Missionary Moments." Illustration by Deseret News artist Reed McGregor.)

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