I was taught and believed that I belonged to the only true church, the Baptist church. That gave me a sense of security, I suppose that is an accurate description. I loved missionary work, talking with strangers, and handing out pamphlets in my little corner of the world.
Every summer the church held a youth camp. To get to camp, we could either pay for the trip or pay by memorizing scripture. I loved the Bible, so I elected to memorize scripture verses. I vividly remember the last night of youth camp one year as we walked from our cabins to where we had a huge bonfire. At dusk, we walked through the woods with our lighted torches to the bonfire site where we had our evening meal and testimony meeting. I remember saying I wanted to be a missionary to China. After becoming an adult I did spend two years in China and eighteen months in Africa. Isn’t that what Christian missionaries do? 🙂
As a young mother, I had a desire to become close to my Heavenly Father, to have a personal intimate relationship with Him. I thought, “Okay, to do this I need to read my scriptures daily and have my private prayers.” I set a goal to read the Bible through in one year which I did. It was such a delicious experience. There were times I would awaken in the middle of the night and go into another room to talk to my Heavenly Father. The Spirit of my Heavenly Father was so close it was as if I could reach out and touch Him.
I was reading the 26th chapter of Acts and those verses touched my soul. I thought back to the time when I was that little girl in Kentucky memorizing her scripture verses and I wondered if in my mid-twenties I could still do that. I memorized the 26th chapter of Acts along with the book of Philippians.
After becoming a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints I read a statement by Joseph Smith which explained that his lifelong persecutions for telling his visions made him feel much like Paul. “He was ridiculed and reviled. But all this did not destroy the reality of his vision. He had seen a vision, he knew he had, and all the persecution under heaven could not make it otherwise.” (JS-H 1:24)