Influence of Book of Mormon increases: success fosters need for more books

The influence of the Book of Mormon in missionary work is increasing as the number of missionaries increases, according to Church leaders.

Now, some 50,000 missionaries are serving in more than 150 nations of the world. These full-time representatives of the Church are successfully placing millions of copies of the Book of Mormon each year.And through their efforts, they have created a need for many additional copies of the Book of Mormon. Copies of the Book of Mormon are provided to missionaries through members donating to the Book of Mormon Fund.

President James E. Faust, second counselor in the First Presidency, speaking at the annual mission presidents' seminar on June 21, 1995, emphasized the importance of the Book of Mormon to mission presidents:

"Your investigators will never be truly on the road to conversion until they have at least a beginning witness that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and that the Book of Mormon is another testament of Christ. . . ," he told the mission presidents.

"The importance of the Book of Mormon in missionary work cannot be overestimated."

Elder L. Aldin Porter of the Presidency of the Seventy and executive director of the Missionary Department, spoke to Church News of the importance of the Book of Mormon: "I think of the sacrifice and dedication of the prophets who wrote and preserved the records; and of Joseph Smith who brought it forth and translated it amidst great tribulation.

"I contemplate the thousands upon thousands of missionaries who have testified of its truthfulness and the joy that has come to all those who have received a witness of its divinity.

"And I am very grateful that each member of the Church has a way to participate in this great work of flooding the earth with the Book of Mormon. Every book that members generously donate to this cause has a strong potential of becoming the means of conversion for someone who desperately needs the gospel."

Sherman M. Crump, managing director of the Missionary Department, commented to Church News:

"We can look forward to an ever-increasing demand for copies of the Book of Mormon. The number of missionaries will increase, their effectiveness will increase, and supplies of the Book of Mormon - the key to conversion - must keep pace."

Each month missions of the Church receive an allocation of copies of the Book of Mormon, provided through the general Book of Mormon fund. The fund is created through the contributions of members in the United States and Canada, given on the regular donation slips.

"The fund provides us a pretty good allotment," said Pres. Jerry C. Roundy of the California Sacramento Mission. "If we are judicious in how we place them, then we have sufficient. We try to stay within our allotment. We can always use more."

Missionaries are coming to the mission field well-prepared to teach about the Book of Mormon, said Pres. Roundy.

"Of the last group of missionaries that came to the mission field, every one had read the Book of Mormon before coming into the field. Our missionaries have a strong testimony of the Book of Mormon."

He continued: "The Book of Mormon is the No. 1 key to conversion in our mission. If we can get it into our investigators' hands and get them reading the Book of Mormon, they will likely be converted, especially the older investigators."

One of the missionaries in the California Sacramento Mission who enjoys placing the book with investigators is Elder Jeremy D. (J.D.) Savage. A convert who came into the Church through the Book of Mormon, he said: "I can relate to people who are searching for the truth."

He encourages people to "read the Book of Mormon and pray about it, and be aware of the Spirit. I have seen members and others gain a testimony of the Book of Mormon - it keeps me motivated on my mission.

"When they have a testimony of the Book of Mormon they have so many questions answered that aren't answered by the Bible." He said that seeing others gain a testimony is like "re-living my conversion."

He said he grew up as a Protestant. In high school, he and and a friend decided to start a Bible study class after school. In the class, they decided to first study the Mormon Church. "So I went to the library and checked out a copy of the Book of Mormon," he said.

He read and felt something, but at the time didn't know what it was. One evening he went for a drive and ended up in front of a temple that was located in his home city.

"I just started to cry," he said. "I was feeling the Spirit - I didn't know what it was, but then I realized that the Book of Mormon had the same spirit."

He later met with an acquaintance at high school who arranged for him to receive the missionary lessons. He was baptized at age 18.

Two others who were baptized after receiving a testimony of the Book of Mormon are Robert and Roberta Goodman. The Goodmans are members of the Camarillo (California) 2nd Ward.

Avid bicyclers, the Goodmans often traveled throughout the Southwest to find biking trails. They eventually "got hooked on riding trails in Utah." In the fall of 1989 they traveled to southern Utah for biking. When their new car developed a mechanical problem, they took it from the back country to St. George for repairs. During the hour they were in St. George, she had a serious medical problem and was rushed to the hospital. There she underwent surgery and remained for two weeks.

Before she went into emergency surgery, she prayed that she would survive. She also promised the Lord that she would do whatever He wanted her to do.

Successful surgery was performed. As she was recovering, Robert and their daughter, Karen, visited Church sites in the area. He was given a copy of the Book of Mormon by missionaries at the St. George Visitors Center, Elder Frank C. and Sister Joyce Davis.

While she in the hospital, she listened to general conference and was impressed by the speakers and their wisdom. She recovered, and the Goodmans returned to California. There, she was given another copy of the Book of Mormon. After reading it, she felt the Lord had answered her prayer, and that He wanted her to join the true Church. So she called friends who were LDS and asked what she had to do to be baptized.

Missionaries came, and the couple began attending a Book of Mormon class.

"I was reading Alma 32 when it really kicked in for me," she said. As she expressed her desire to join the Church, Robert began reading his copy of the book.

She and her husband were baptized Aug. 17, 1991. She added that since their conversion, she has read the Book of Mormon four times. "I am just enthralled with it - I can't get enough."

She added that she and her husband haven't ridden their bicycles so much lately. "We have so much reading to do that there isn't time," she explained.

On Aug. 22, 1992, "we were endowed and sealed in the St. George Temple."

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