By Emilia Julian | January 7, 2020
Like many Christians from a different faith, when I was introduced to the possibility that God spoke to a young boy named Joseph Smith and that through him, God restored the gospel once again upon the earth, I wasn’t sure what to think. In fact, I believe I may have dismissed it immediately as one of those things that just isn’t true.
In 1989, for personal reasons of which I may write about another time, I decided to sit with the missionaries (once referred to as the Mormon missionaries) and be taught by them about their beliefs. Almost right away, I felt the Spirit, and my heart felt like it was going to burst with excitement and joy. I just could not deny that the things I was hearing were real, and even as I tried to dismiss them, my heart just wouldn’t let me.
Allow me to back up for a moment. When I said that I “felt the Spirit,” Joseph Smith’s name hadn’t even been mentioned yet. We had been discussing the Plan of Salvation and after many years of having so many questions about my own salvation, what I had learned from the missionaries just spoke to my own spirit and I knew it was absolutely true. By the time they had begun teaching me about the Book of Mormon and about Joseph Smith in more detail, I didn’t question them. I was just so excited about the Plan of Salvation that I figured the rest must be valid.
After I was baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I began to read the Book of Mormon in more detail. That’s when my testimony of this precious book began to blossom. I still didn’t know too much about Joseph Smith and Church history, but more and more, I continued to get the feeling that he was indeed a Prophet of God.
It wasn’t until many years later, when my husband and I attended the Nauvoo Pageant with our children, that my testimony of Joseph Smith was solidified. I couldn’t deny what the Spirit of the Lord testified to me on that trip. The fact was that I had come to know that Joseph Smith was undoubtedly a true Prophet of God and despite all the efforts that critics put forth to discredit him and his work to restore the gospel through the gift and power of the Holy Ghost–there was nothing that could sway me otherwise.
I am so very grateful for this knowledge and for my testimony. This revelation has sincerely changed me in various ways. For one, although I did already have a testimony of the Book of Mormon, I came to appreciate the words written within its pages even more as they brought me closer to the Savior.
This year marks the bicentennial of the First Vision of Joseph Smith. This miraculous event in history has clarified so many facts about God the Father and Jesus Christ that the world was in darkness about for so long. Now, thanks to a simple prayer that was uttered by a young boy 200 years ago, we have answers to many questions about the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Recently, our current prophet, President Russell M. Nelson, issued an invitation to the world, encouraging us to be a significant part of sharing the message of the “ongoing restoration of the Savior’s gospel.” He also encouraged us to prepare by reading Joseph Smith’s account of the First Vision as recorded in the Pearl of Great Price. I hope we can all accept that invitation.
Now here is my invitation to you. If you haven’t already done so (or even if you have), I would like to invite you to watch a film produced by the Church about the life and legacy of Joseph Smith. It is on DVD but also easy to find on the Church website under Joseph Smith: The Prophet of the Restoration. This is the perfect time to watch it for yourself or with your family and/or friends.
I will never forget the first time I watched this film. It was at the Palmyra Visitor’s Center. By the end of the movie, I realized I had been shedding tears–tears of joy and tears of sadness. When I looked around, so were many others who were sitting around me.
Of all the years to be learning more about Joseph Smith and the REstoration of the gospel, it is this year. You can watch the film below, purchase the DVD from a Church bookstore, or watch it from the Church website above. If you haven’t already watched it before, let us know what you think.