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The Unexpected Life: Testimony comes at a price

Recently I finished

reading the book "Faith among Shadows." It is a true story of a

Cuban man named Malcolm Leal who was raised by his grandmother in

communist Cuba. Between her common sense, moral high-ground and

avid reading of the Bible, she taught him everything he would need to

know to find truth and happiness — if only he could survive the Cuban

military.

He did survive many years

and several brushes with death, during which his grandmother's

words continued to follow him wherever he went. Finally after

escaping to America and searching for a church which would reflect

the teachings and God of his grandmother, he found The Church of

Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Malcolm's story was

nothing less than inspiring for me. It showed how the Lord will

patiently spend many years preparing someone to receive and recognize the gospel. Through his grandmother the Lord would prepare Malcolm

to become a Cuban pioneer and lead the way for a new generation of disciples of Jesus Christ. Not to mention all the effort and

sacrifice that Malcolm would give once he arrived in America to calm

the stirring within his soul to find the same gospel of Jesus Christ

that his grandmother spoke so often of.Malcolm has truly been

converted. His testimony has fueled a fire within me, for which I am

grateful.

A friend of mine has been

very instrumental in teaching the gospel to a man named Ramesh from

India, who came to America temporarily on business. Through an

unusual set of events, she was able to share the gospel with him.A

year or two later he was baptized in India. Periodically she shares

with me the insights that he receives as he reads the Book of Mormon,

gives a talk, etc. I have loved the opportunity to look at the

gospel through a new set of eyes as Ramesh is seeing and recognizing

elements of truth for the first time.It has sharpened my vision as

well.

I have seen him grow in

his testimony and understanding of our Heavenly Father and in the

Lord Jesus Christ. I have watched him move from fighting against the

principles of the gospel to humbly accepting them, as shown in his

most recent talk in sacrament meeting when he said, "I having lived

and been exposed to every filthy thing that life has to offer and now

with this new light in my life I could clearly see the reason of

having the same principles and the covenants which I fought against

and argued for so long. The principle and the covenants were never

wrong but I was, since I feared losing the freedom which I had

attached with no responsibility to undertake, versus now where I am

accountable for my actions."

Ramesh has lived on the

other side, and now with "this new light" he sees things as they

really are. As just one of very few members in India, he is

committed and providing great strength for other members and those

who are interested in learning about the church as well. His

testimony strengthens mine.

Recently I was in Spain

and attended a ward with very few members. It was clear that they

were not going to church for a social life, or because of the amazing

teachers, or speakers. Their dress was not to impress and the

lessons were not a production — they mostly read from the manual and

shared pure testimony of the gospel.Though I understood very little

of what they were saying, I felt their testimony. I saw a people who

with very little support and convenience were committed to the

gospel, regardless the price.

Both Malcolm and Ramesh

and millions of others, going against all odds, have paid and

continue to pay a price to gain and maintain a testimony of the

gospel of Jesus Christ.

Many may wonder if it is

worth the price and sacrifice that we are often asked to pay.

The answer is clear.

A testimony is what gives

us peace, in troubled times or personal crisis. A testimony is what

gives us direction and resolve, despite the conflicting voices in our

lives. A testimony gives us security and confidence. A testimony

gives us the ability to forgive and love more fully. A testimony

gives us courage. A testimony gives us spiritual muscle, character

and insight because of the price we paid to get it.

There is no question that

a testimony is worth whatever the price.

I grew up with the luxury

of being raised in the church. I had Primary, family home evening,

Sunday School, early-morning seminary, associations with other LDS

people, parents who were believers, etc.

Now, years later, with the

church building conveniently down the street, so many members, and

total acceptance from my friends and family, I have worried that I

may not always appreciate the price to maintain and grow my

testimony, especially with the absence of immediate opposition or the

presence of so many other blessings in my life.Yet, with the sin

and turmoil in the world and the forecast of what is to come, I know

that I won't have a chance unless I have a strong testimony.

I wasn't living in California at

the time, to defend the protection of marriage; something that I know

would have strengthened my testimony. I don't have kids going in

all directions and trying to preserve time together as a family. I

don't have a daughter who wants to dress immodestly or date before

she is 16. I don't have a son to help prioritize church, sports or

video games, or many of those scenarios that challenge us to defend

or stand up for what we know is right; all of which can strengthen

our testimony.

I realize that the price

I pay to gain and keep a testimony may look a little different on the

outside than Malcolm's or Ramesh's, or even the families in my

ward, but I also know that a religion that doesn't require the

sacrifice of all things could not produce the faith necessary for

salvation (Joseph Smith).

As a friend pointed out,

maybe there are others in our lives that paid the initial price of

our testimony, but the price we pay will be to stand up against the

further attacks on the family, or morality, or simply remain faithful

and steady. Either way, a price of sacrifice and obedience will need

to be paid.

To the Malcolms and

Rameshes of the world, I say "thank you." Thank you for your

willingness to forge through tradition, convenience and limiting

beliefs to gain a testimony. Thank you for hanging in there against

all odds and being faithful and converted.My testimony has been

strengthened because of you, and you have once again reminded me that

a testimony comes at a price.