HENRY B. EYRING
First Counselor in the First Presidency
From a talk given during the October 2011 General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
I was once invited to speak at graduation services at a university. The university president had wanted President Gordon B. Hinckley to be invited but found that he was unavailable. So by default I got the invitation. I was then a junior member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
The person who invited me to speak became anxious as she learned more about my obligations as an Apostle. She called me on the phone and said that she now understood that my duty was to be a witness of Jesus Christ.
In very firm tones she told me that I could not do that when I spoke there. She explained that the university respected people of all religious beliefs, including those who denied the existence of a God. She repeated, “You cannot fulfill your duty here.”
I hung up the phone with serious questions in my mind. Should I tell the university that I would not keep my agreement to speak? It was only two weeks before the event. My appearance there had been announced. What effect would my failing to keep my agreement have on the good name of the Church?
I prayed to know what God would have me do. The answer came in a surprising way to me. I realized that the examples of Nephi, Abinadi, Alma, Amulek, and the sons of Mosiah applied to what I was. They were bold witnesses of Jesus Christ in the face of deadly peril.
So the only choice to be made was how to prepare. I dug into everything I could learn about the university. As the day of the talk grew closer, my anxiety rose and my prayers intensified.
In a miracle like the Red Sea parting, I found a news article. That university had been honored for doing what the Church has learned to do in our humanitarian efforts across the world. And so in my talk I described what we and they had done to lift people in great need. I said that I knew that Jesus Christ was the source of the blessings that had come into the lives of those we and they had served.
Image by Getty Images via @daylife Members of the LDS Church
assist with cleanup in the
aftermath of the Joplin, MO
After the meeting the audience rose to applaud, which seemed a little unusual to me. I was amazed but still a little anxious. I remembered what happened to Abinadi. Only Alma had accepted his witness. But that night, at a large formal dinner, I heard the university president say that in my talk he heard the words of God.
Now, such a miraculous deliverance is rare in my experience as a witness of Christ. But the effect of the Book of Mormon on your character, power, and courage to be a witness for God is certain. The doctrine and the valiant examples in that book will lift, guide, and embolden you.