I love the Bible. Sometimes my friends of other faiths are surprised to hear that Mormons use the same Bible as the rest of the Christian world. We use the King James version of the Bible as part of our scripture. I doubt there is anything more precious to me than the records kept of Jesus’ life as contained in the four gospels and the Book of Acts. I love the Old Testament too. I love the record of God speaking to people through Prophets like Moses and Abraham. In conversations I’ve had with friends who wanted to know more about me and my faith, there is one question I’ve heard many times. Where are the Prophets when we need them the most?
This is one of my favorite questions to answer! I recently went to a production that answered that very question.
Recently, the missionaries from my area presented a musical fireside entitled “A Long Silence Broken,” a musical tribute to the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Missionaries shared their musical talents with the audience. One missionary was highlighted for his extraordinary musical talent and how music strengthened his testimony of Jesus Christ. (While at BYU, a news production team put together a short video segment highlighting Elder Keith and his astonishing talent. Jonathan Keith on BYU Weekly.)
The fireside began with the life and teachings of Jesus Christ through song and the spoken word. Although I do not have audio recordings of the actual performers from this fireside, here is a video of one of the songs presented to give Testimony to the life of Jesus Christ. In the song His Hands, there is a special emphasis on the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
After a beautiful rendition of His Hands, by Kelly Lord, another soloist sang a song I had never heard before entitled Him and Him Alone. It described our absolute reliance on Jesus Christ. The missionary who sang this song, Elder Excell, sang it with such conviction that I was moved to tears. I felt my personal need for a Savior during that song.
Next, there was a photo slideshow of Prophets from the Old Testament including Adam, Moses and Abraham, then on to the ministries of Peter, the Apostle Paul and others as contained in the New Testament. After the wonderful musical tribute to the greatness and glory of our Savior Jesus Christ, this section was a welcome reminder of the love God shows us by revealing Himself to Prophets. Prior to Jesus’ death and resurrection, He set up a form of church government that would be on earth after His ascension. Jesus called twelve apostles to lead and teach and bear special witness to the people of His life and His sacrifice.
After many years of successful missionary work, all of these Holy Apostles were hunted down and killed or exiled, thus leaving the church to govern itself without the divine authority of the Priesthood. Instead of Prophets and Apostles leading the church, members filled the void of leadership with the voice of its members through voting on doctrines and accepted creeds.
Several hundred years later righteous men like John Wycliffe, Martin Luther, William Tyndale and John Calvin recognized that the doctrines of their church were not in line with the teachings contained in the Holy Bible. They protested and demanded reform. Many gave their lives in protest, and started the Protestant movement. These reformers and protesters were persecuted in their home lands, but some were blessed with the opportunity to try their faith in a new world, America.
Joseph Smith was born in America, the land of freedom of religion, where all people were given the opportunity to worship God however they chose. Because of this freedom, there were many, many religions to choose from. So many that even though Joseph’s family loved and knew the Bible, they were divided as to what religion to join. Many of Joseph’s family had already joined the Methodist church, but Joseph was unsure which of all churches was the correct one. At age 14, Joseph wanted to do what was best, and what God wanted.
To illustrate Joseph’s feelings during this time, a soloist named Elder Seu sang My Soul Hungered. [Again, I do not have audio recordings from this particular event, but I wanted to share the link above, so you could hear for yourself this beautiful song.]
Joseph took his concerns to the Bible and read this verse in James 1:5, which reads:
If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not: and it shall be given him.
With a trust and faith that typically attends the young, Joseph sought out a solitary and peaceful place to pray, believing that God would answer him. And God did answer him!
At this point in the fireside Elder Seu sang the song Joseph Smith’s First Prayer. [To hear the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sing this song please follow this link.] Here are some of the words from this Hymn:
Humbly kneeling, sweet appealing – Twas the boy’s first uttered prayer….
…Suddenly a light descended, Brighter far than noon-day sun,
And a shining glorious pillar O’er him fell, around him shone.
While appeared two heav’n-ly beings, God the Father and the Son.
“Joseph, this is my Beloved: Hear him!” Oh, how sweet the word!
Joseph’s humble prayer was answered, And he listened to the Lord.
Oh, what rapture filled his bosom, For he saw the living God.
A long silence broken!
Just as Abraham, Isaac, Moses and others were called of God to be Prophets to the people of their day, Joseph Smith was called to prophesy, reveal and lead in his day. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, or Mormon church, has a living Prophet today who we look to for guidance and authority from God. We love Thomas S. Monson and all the Prophets since Joseph Smith. We worship God the Father and the Savior, Jesus Christ, but we are still grateful for Prophets to guide us morally, spiritually and temporally in the modern days.
The Missionary choir then sang Praise to the Man, a beloved LDS hymn (Mormon Tabernacle Choir rendition to video can be found here). My husband and I were astonished by the wonderful testimonies born through music on this fantastic night. I hope I was able to give you just a glimpse of the talent and testimonies of some wonderful Mormon missionaries, and to show how grateful I am for the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.