Towards year end of 1989, a friend of mine, Gregory Mutete, came home in our then small township of Dangamvura — situated in Mutare, Zimbabwe. He reported to me and Christopher Bangwayo — our other friend — that he had secured employment as a gardener from a missionary couple named Grant and Sharol Wilson. They had offered him a book called the Book of Mormon, but he had refused to take it — wanting first to confirm with the two of us. As a group of three tightly knit teenage friends, we all had to agree before deciding to embark on any form of adventure, which we believed this was going to be. Little did we know that this was a beginning of a journey that would try our faith to the limit. We were skeptical about these missionaries — based on the lessons we had received in school — so we were prepared to disprove all theories they were to share with us.
A decision was taken that Gregory should invite the couple to visit us and answer some of our questions. The following day the couple drove Gregory to my home and also delivered the Book of Mormon, which they introduced to us together with the story of Joseph Smith. All sounded like a fiction story from a movie script. How could a fourteen-year-old boy see God and His Son Jesus Christ and literally talk with them. It was preposterous, to say the least. This was my first time to exercise my faith and put to the test the invitation extended to us and find out for myself through prayer as Joseph Smith did.
In my nineteen-year-old mind I felt if fourteen-year-old Joseph Smith was able to see God and Jesus Christ, then I — being 19 years old — would also have the same experience, if not better. I retired to a high mountain close to our home, found a quiet place, knelt and delivered my supplication to God. For at least fifteen minutes I was talking to my God. You may have already guessed what happened after that heartfelt prayer. God and Jesus Christ did not appear to me, instead as I embarked on my journey back home, I had this total feeling of peace and contentment envelop my whole being. At that moment I did not realize what it was until after some time much later when I realized that it was the language of the Holy Ghost confirming to me that what had been taught to me was truth. After that marvelous experience the three of us were baptized. It took us exactly eight days from the day we met the missionary couple to the day we were baptized.
From this very important experience I learnt two great principle about faith:
First, faith is a principle of action and power. I could have decided to do nothing about the invitation and still not have received the confirmation I needed to build my testimony. In the Book of Mormon, the Brother of Jared had faith that God would assist in crossing the ocean. He did not just sit and wait, he climbed the exceedingly high mount Shelem and molted out of a rock sixteen white, clear and transparent small stones, which the Lord was able to touch by His finger — and they provided the needed light (Ether 3:1).
Modern day prophets and apostles have invited members around the world, to minister in a newer and holier approach, to use the correct name of the Church, to use a home centered and Church supported approach to gospel learning through the “Come Follow Me” program, to study daily from the Book of Mormon as individual and families, and to and hold weekly Home Evenings. They have asked us to gather Israel on both sides of the veil through missionary work and temple and family history work, to pay an honest tithe and a generous Fast Offering. All these requires a lot of faith to accomplish.
Secondly, most if not all of the Lord’s promises are conditional on our doing, “Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves” (James 1:22). He further declares, “I the lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.” (Doctrine and Covenants 82:10). In the oath and covenant of the Priesthood, part of that agreement is, “For you shall live by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God” (Doctrine and Covenants 84:44).
As we hearken to the words of the living prophets and apostles and exercise faith in Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ all the promised blessings will be ours to enjoy.