The Burning of the Book – The Story of the Conversion of Jerry C. Mathews, a Texas Baptist Minister
[The following testimony is shared to demonstrate the power of The Book of Mormon. Because the teachings of the Mormon Church are not based on The Holy Book of Mormon, no one need infer, like Mathews did, that they must join the Mormon Church after gaining a testimony of The Book.]
THE BURNING OF THE BOOK
As Related by J. C. Mathews
This revelation was given to me on the day that I tried maliciously to burn a copy of the Book of Mormon. I seriously doubt if I would ever have been impressed by the book if my daughter Belle had not married the branch president of our home town, Austin Texas, and eventually departed for Salt Lake City vowing to never return to Texas.
They suddenly left home in early June of 1942. Their going away was attended by a storm cloud of dissension. The bonds of peace were broken, and they left behind a pall of gloom hanging over our household.
Great was my grief; my heart was heavy with unhappiness; my eyes became a fountain of tears. For a month and a half I wept daily. There was no consolation for me, and I wondered if I could carry on for long. I became possessed with boundless fear that I would never see my daughter and her son again. My sorrow turned into hatred and bitterness toward the Mormon Church. As my daughter had become a member of the Church, I feared she was led away from me forever. I had been told by un authoritative individual that converts to the Church were frequently and deceptively lured away to Salt Lake City to never return to their homes. Fantastic tales of such activities had on a number of occasions been related to me which increased my despair.
Six weeks after Belle’s distressing departure, I experienced a rather strange, in fact to me remarkable, incident. This was the prelude of things to come. At that time I visited a neighboring town called Cameron, and obtained a room for one night of lodging in a hotel known as the “Milam.” The room I secured was number eight. This room in this certain hotel has considerable significance in relation to my experiences.
After I retired for the night, I could find no rest; nor sleep. I tossed about on the bed, and the grief I bore seemed to tear out my heart. The later hours of the evening slowly, ponderously moved by. Midnight came, and still no momentary escape from my grief by slumber. In the deep quietness of the night far past the hour of twelve, I reflected in my wakefulness that perhaps the compassionate hand of God will touch me and make it well with me. I had not seriously sought divine guidance since this burden was thrust upon me.
Laboriously, and in doubt, I fell upon my knees beside the bed, and proceeded to seek the Lord for relief. I had not gone far into prayer when my troubled heart was eased, and a flood of peacefulness, calmness, and serenity came into my soul like the warm golden rays of the rising sun. I became at ease and comforted for the first time in six weeks of sorrow. Then I seemed to hear a whisper-a still small voice apparently coming out of nowhere and entering my soul. It was as discernible, as understandable, and comprehensive as if it had originated in a mortal body standing by my side.
The voice was of the spirit, and spoke to my spirit. It whispered, “Weep no more, all is well. Weep no more, all is well. Let others do the weeping, hereafter.”
I pondered this for several days in my heart, and wondered if it could be significant of things to come. But little did I realize that this incident was a prelude to following occurrences that were to be of profound importance in my life.
In the year of 1924 a Mormon Elder visited our home and left a copy of the Book of Mormon with us. During all of these following years the book was in my possession. I had not the slightest desire to read it’s pages, nor was I the least interested in what knowledge it might divulge to me.
The Elder who gave me the book had endeavored to explain what had been written therein. His words had little or no meaning as far as I was concerned. I forgot everything he attempted to impart to me except one phrase which stayed in my mind. That little seed of information remained there through the years waiting to burst forth into fruit and to flower again in a rich reward for unsuspecting me. The bit of knowledge I retained was, that the book was a record of “ancient people.” That was all I knew or cared to know. I really did not believe that statement and did not care to delve into the book and fathom its contents. . . or attempt to fathom what it contains in an effort to see if I could ferret out any information concerning the plan of Jesus Christ and our Holy Father.
I had been a Baptist Minister since I became of age which was about 35 years ago, and I was satisfied with the Bible and the Bible only! No one could induce me to believe there was a similar record of mankind that bore the gospel of Jesus Christ and a plan of salvation. I knew the Bible to be the stick of Judah, but had no knowledge of the stick of Joseph. The stick of Joseph was in my possession for 18 years. If I had only known the value of it!
The burning of the book came about in July 1942. My wife and I were engaged one summer day in burning a lot of rubbish such as old newspapers, magazines and so forth. We were cleaning the house and the place in general such as everyone is wont to do whenever the occasion necessitates. In our activities, my wife found the copy of the Book of Mormon the Elder had left with us 18 years before. As soon as I saw it, I was instantly siezed by a bitterness against the book. I was startled by a burning flash of anger that dug deep into my heart and stirred the fires of my contempt for the Book of Mormon into a blazing inferno that made me be-damn all the volume stood for. Maliciously seizing the book, I swore to myself: “I will let all the trash burn together!”
I made my way hastily to the rear of the house, and in a furor threw my bundle upon a pile of rubbish that awaited burning. The Book of Mormon went on last to the top of the heap, opened, its pages exposed for the flames to come. I, forthwith, vehemently set the heap afire and stood back to watch the fiery fingers leap up and consume the entire mass-and the book especially.
In a little while I could see the rubbish would soon be reduced to a smouldering mound of waste, but the book was not responding satisfactorily. So I returned to the house, and brought out a can of kerosene oil. I was not to be outdone! Throwing on the oil in great quantities, I muttered, “If this book be of men and devils, let it burn; otherwise I repent.”
The flames leaped several feet into the air in a wild burst of crimson fury. This time I commanded it to burn! The swirling fingers of fire and smoke hid the greater mass of the mound, and I was sure the book would be reduced to insignificance along with the newspapers and periodicals, rubbish etc.
And then the spirit that had visited me in the Milam hotel suddenly returned and broke into my act of deviltry. Needless to say, I was startled. I could feel His presence as well as if someone in the flesh had appeared! A voice spoke to me from beyond the bonds of mortality; yet it was understandable. It was a soft whisper, clear and discernible. I could both feel and hear it.
The voice whispered: “Don’t do it, the book is truth.” “Don’t do it, the book is truth.”
I instinctively looked around half expecting to see someone near me gently reprimanding my deed. But seeing no one, and following the inclination of my furious bitterness, I stubbornly and defiantly threw on more oil being obstinately determined to burn the book.
The flames leaped up much higher than they had previously gone, and became so intense with heat I was forced far back from them. Surely it would burn now. It was inconceivable that a volume such as the one I had thrown to the flames could escape them now.
I obtained a long stick and began to turn the pages back and forth just to make sure they were exposed well enough to the fire. So intent was I on my task, that I became almost oblivious to my surroundings.
The whispering voice spoke to me again. It was that same still small voice that expressed disapproval of my act a few minutes before. The voice whispered gently but firmly as it had before those quiet yet resounding words, “Don’t do it, the book is truth! Don’t do it, the book is truth!”
This second reprimand struck me with so much force that I became greatly alarmed. I needed no further remonstration so with haste, as the fire began to subside, I poked around in the flames with the long stick, and retrieved the remains of the volume from the heap. I rubbed the fire off the burning pages with my hands, and I saw that many of the pages were burned beyond reading, others were very badly seared.
A sudden realization of the terrible, shameful deed that I had committed struck me with such force that it awakened my soul. My spirit became very contrite, and I was more sorrowful for the thing I had done than I can ever express. I immediately sought forgiveness from the Divine One. The bitterness and passionate hatred that I had lavished upon the Book of Mormon turned at once to a humble love. The gall turned to sweetness, and I was filled with a desire to possess another copy of this sacred volume so I could read what it had to offer. I now wanted desperately to learn the secrets hidden between its covers.
I left the remains of the book for awhile beside the ash heap, and later in the day I put it away in a shed that stood in the rear of the house. About a week later we moved into another cottage near by. In gathering up our belongings, I went for the book; but failed to find it. It was not in the place I had put it, and a diligent search was to no avail. My wife knew nothing of its whereabouts, and had not disposed of it, I dared not ask her of it until six months later. She said she had seen it after the fire had died down, but only then. Since that day it has been a deep puzzle to me where the book vanished.
In the meantime, I longed for another copy of the Book of Mormon. I planned to write to my daughter and ask for one, but the voice again entered into my mind forbidding me to tell of my experience. I was impressed that it would be revealed to someone as a token to me of a service that I should render. Thus, for six long months my experience remained a deep secret. I kept the commandment not to reveal it to a single soul. I could confide in no one, and every day I pondered it in my heart constantly wondering if I again would feel the presence of the angelic spirit; was there really more to come in relation to the burning of the book?
On one occasion, I attempted to see one of Belle’s Mormon friends. He is Dr. P. J. Paris, a seventy in the Church at Austin, Texas. But when I approached him with the book in mind, I was rebuffed by the spirit. It was obviously the same spirit that had come to me on the two previous occasions. So I could obtain no book. I was not quite ready for one. The Lord had a time for that, and He brought it about later.
About six months after I endeavored to burn the book, I received a very interesting and quite unusual letter from my daughter. I was overjoyed, and almost shouting happy over it’s contents. In fact, I might say the information it contained was startlingly unique. Belle dreamed that I had a testimony of the Book of Mormon, and she urged me to tell her what it was all about. . . what the meaning of it was. Not a word concerning religious matters was ever mentioned in the correspondence that went between us in the few months that followed Belle’s going away. And now suddenly she dreams I have a testimony, and wants me to reveal it to her. This was providential! The spirit had thwarted my attempts to obtain a Book of Mormon, and indicated that it would be revealed to someone that I had a testimony. This letter from Belle was fulfilling that promise.
With bounding joy I sent Belle an immediate letter telling her all about my experience. She was exceedingly delighted, and mailed me another Book of Mormon at once…I perused with great delight and keen understanding. I became well acquainted with the stick of Joseph (Book of Mormon)..I now have become well established, strongly entrenched in the everlasting gospel.
* * * * *
THE ANGEL OF THE LORD OPENS THE WAY
After I had studied sufficiently to explain to others what had been revealed to me, many opportunities were presented to me to bear my testimony, and reveal the true gospel with which I had so happily become acquainted. I will endeavor briefly, but sufficiently, to explain some of the more outstanding experiences that befell me in the following months.
By the time I had finished reading the Book of Mormon I had received great inspiration, and a deep impression that I should be a witness of the book. I pondered this in my heart for some time, but I could not feature how I could fulfill such a mission. Therefore, I soon felt a spirit of rebellion against my impression.
I sought the Lord for guidance so that I might better understand, and really know if the feeling that had come over me was really of God. Whereupon, the voice of the Lord came into my mind, revealing to me that I should be a witness of the book to many people. But I sought Him in an effort to be excused from the task, for I could not see my way clear to go forth as a witness of the book to the people.
It was not long after that the still small voice penetrated my mind that I felt a renewed rebellion against this calling of the Supreme One. For several weeks I was in distress, and misery was in my pathway. I became troubled and tormented every day of my new life; but I could only mourn and try to bear the anguish; for I was, indeed, in rebellion against the Lord.
One day I was in deep meditation, as I was often wont to do; my soul struggled within me in an effort to seek the Lord for mercy and deliverance from the sorrows of the mind so I could regain my departed joys. At length I began to feel the presence of the spirit. He quieted my writhing soul, and I was made to rejoice. The voice of the Lord then came into my mind, and it revealed to me that I should be a living witness of the Book of Mormon and the everlasting gospel.
My mind’s eye was opened to a vision. I beheld the days of redemption, and the fullness of the times. I could see from the time of the covenant of redemption, when the sons of God shouted for joy and the foundation of the earth was laid, to the Church of the first born. I, also, saw the building of Zion, and I saw the time the Kingdoms of the world received the gospel to become Kingdoms of the Lord and of His Christ.
My heart rejoiced, and I became gladly reconciled, and well pleased, to what I could now plainly see was my portion. I realized that I was one of His chosen children, and had been given a testimony that should be borne to the world.
Since that time, I have applied myself to study so that I may be able to teach the gospel, as well as to testify of that which had been revealed to me.
* * * * *
On one beautiful spring day in 1943 while I was on a business trip many miles away from home, I chanced to be waiting by the roadside near a small town for a bus going to Austin. Circumstances had forced me to abandon the use of my car since I had acquired this new business enterprise that I worked by going from town to town in my home state. This was very new and quite different from the occupation of ministry that I had followed for so many years of my life.
On this lovely day in the renewed freshness of the world, I received an inspiration that was to remain as a driving force in the months to come. As I sat down to wait for the bus, I noticed on either side of the road hundreds of stones; they were of varied shapes, sizes and colors, of every description. I found it very difficult for me to find a place to sit while waiting. At considerable length I meditated on the goodness of God, and felt a satisfying sense of grace and blessing. I entertained myself beholding such an unusual array of stones in one place. Everyone seemed to have a separate semblance of personality, but they all bore some similarity. I could feel the grace of God in my soul as I thought of John the Baptist who said, “God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.” (Luke 3 :8)
Then, I felt the presence of the ministering spirit who gave to me grace and understanding. Seemingly, the voice of the Lord once more came into my mind as if speaking to me, and giving me great and glorious inspiration.
My attention was strangely drawn to a certain crude stone. It strongly held my attention and was probably the most common and roughest of the mass strewn far around on the sides of the roadway. As I gazed upon it, the voice of the Lord spoke to my spirit. It was so discernible I was able to understand it was saying, “Son of obscurity, thou art as this crude stone, chosen in the rough without form or comeliness. Thou shalt grow up as a root out of dry ground. To thee is given a testimony that shall be a refinement to make thee as a fitly refined stone that will be a testimony to other stones more beautiful than thee. Thou shalt be a stone like unto Cephus. A stone that cannot be moved. A stone able to endure hardness as a good soldier; thou shalt be confirmed in truth and none can move thee. To thee is given power to proclaim even as Samuel at Zarahemla, to speak that which is put in thine heart.
“Be not fearful nor unbelieving, for I will counsel thee to strengthen thee and cause thee to stand. Thou shalt be faithful unto death; and prepared by faith, by knowledge and understanding. Thou shalt be as a son raised up unto Abraham and given a new testimony that shall bless many. I shall go before thee to open the way before thee.”
The voice concluded his testimony to me by saying, “Be faithful in all things, and unto thee shall be given a new stone, and in it a new name forever that none can know except those who receive it.”
Thus for more than an hour, I felt the presence of Him who said, “I will open the way before thee.”
The bus was soon due, but a stranger offered me a ride to Waco, the next town of importance on my way home. It transpired that he was a Methodist Minister, and I related my complete story to him from the time I tried to burn the book to this new and enthralling inspiration. We discussed all of this at length, and he seemed to be favorably impressed. As we parted he wished me luck, and gave me his blessing.
I was now confirmed in my impression that I would be a witness of the book, and of the everlasting gospel. But this was only a mild forerunner to incidents of real consequence wherein the Divine Hand gave me many, and ample, opportunities to bear my testimony of the Book of Mormon.
* * * * *
During my study of the Book of Mormon, the voice of the unseen one came into my mind saying that I should prepare myself until I came to have full knowledge of it’s contents. I should increase in faith and knowledge, for I was to become a special witness of the book to many people through which they would receive knowledge of the everlasting gospel that the volume contains.
Not many weeks after the previous incident, I went on one of my frequent business trips to Georgetown not so very far north of Austin. When I had finished my sales work in a community center in the northern suburb of the city, I waited beside the highway, as I had missed the bus to Belton, thirty miles further on. A large truck came along, passed me by and came to a stop about a hundred yards away. The driver sounded his horn, and I ran to accept the offered ride.
I soon made acquaintance with the truck man. His name was Henry Crawford, and his home was in Belton. He told me that he was a grandson of Chief Crawford, a well known Indian chief of San Saba, a town some distance west of there This young Indian is of the Cherokee tribe. His appearance is that of a sun tanned white man, although he is an Indian. This young Lamanite was very entertaining, and his conversation proved that he was keen of mind and exceptionally intelligent.
After some time he offered a surprising question that struck me instantly as very odd.
“Sir,” he said, “Do you know why I came to stop and offer you a ride?”
“I suppose you have a kindly nature, and wish to help someone along the way,” I replied.
“Not that so much,” he said, “As the company with which I am employed forbids me to give rides to anyone.”
He pointed to the windshield sticker, “NO RIDERS.”
“Then why did you stop for me?” I inquired.
“Well, it’s very odd,” he said, “But I was strongly impressed to pick you up – more impressed than I have ever been before under such circumstances. It is, indeed, very strange. A voice whispered in my ear, and told me to stop. The voice of some unseen one. I was impressed as distinctly as if somebody had actually told me in person to give you a ride. The voice whispered, ‘This man is a Minister and will tell you things of which you have no knowledge – things that you are eager to know.’
“I cannot imagine what kind of information you might give me,” he concluded, “Nor can I feature of what Ministry you are.”
“I have not indicated that I am a Minister of any kind,” I replied.
“No, you haven’t; but the little voice said so, and of that I am certain,” the Indian said earnestly.
He was obviously very anxious to know the meaning of it all. If I were a real Minister, and what was it that I had to tell him.
“Well, you have just told me that you are an Indian of the Cherokee tribe; so would you like to know the origin and destiny of your people?” I offered after a pause.
The Indian suddenly became very fervent in anticipation of the thing that I indicated I might reveal to him.
“That very matter has always been a worry to me, and I have always wished to know that particular thing,” he said eagerly. “If you can tell me, I shall know that you are a Minister of God, and the voice was that of an angel.”
There I made my real debut as a witness to the world, and that was to the Lamanites.
I told Mr. Crawford the story of Jacob, Joseph, Manasseh, and Ephraim; and of Lehi and Ishmael; of Nephi and all the story in the Book of Mormon to the days of Christ and the Church, and how Jesus came to the sheep of another fold. I told him how He was received by both the Nephites and the Lamanites. I continued the account to the days of Mormon who made the abridgement of the plates of brass on the plates of gold; how Mormon died with his people at Cumorah; how Moroni, the son of Mormon, hid the plates of gold bearing an account of these ancient people and the gospel.
I also pointed out to him that the Book of Mormon is the stick of Joseph as the Bible is the stick of Judah. Then I related how the plates were revealed to Joseph Smith. And I gave him a brief history of the prophet and the Church. Thus, it was that my new Indian friend heard for the first time the story, the history, of his people.
He was extremely impressed. Later I mailed him a copy of the Book of Mormon, and several months afterward I met him again in his home town.
I was having lunch in a cafe when he entered accompanied by a friend. I was surprised and delighted to see him, but at first I was not aware of his presence until he approached me with his friend.
After warm greetings and handshakes, he said to his companion, “This is the man I told you of; the one who revealed to me the origin and destiny of my people.”
He gave me a written statement of the incident, and he has retold the story to many people. So, I had borne my testimony of the Book of Mormon, and my first audience, in the fulfillment of the promise that had been given to me, was to the Lamanites who gladly accepted and believed it.
* * * * *
Just one week from the time I first met Mr. Crawford, the Lord gave me another testimony that was somewhat similar to the Indian incident. It came about in further verification of the promise that he would go before me and open the way so I might be a witness of the book to a host of people.
One day I stood beside the highway going by my home, that was near the city, waiting for a bus on it’s way to San Antonio, seventy miles southwest of there. The bus was behind schedule, so I stood and waited for over half an hour watching the heavy traffic on the roadway, and began to hope that someone would give me a lift. The tardy bus never showed up, and I was eventually, to my surprise, offered a ride by a motorist without any effort on my part to hail one. At first the car passed me by, as the Indian had done, and then came to a stop about fifty yards beyond me. The occupants of the car introduced themselves as Mr. and Mrs. Lightfoot of San Antonio.
After making ourselves acquainted, Mrs. Lightfoot inquired, “Mr. Mathews, may I tell you why we stopped for you ?”
“Why, certainly,” I replied curiously, “If there is a special something that prompted you to do so.”
“Well,” she replied, “I had an unusual feeling that we should give you a ride. A small voice, or whisper, came into my ears saying, “Stop for the man; he is a Minister who can tell you of your heart’s desire, of things you have long wanted to know;” and she said, “Now, if there is anything on earth that I’m eager to learn about, I surely would like for someone to explain to me the meaning of the Book of Mormon.”
“An Elder gave me a copy of the book over a year ago, but I haven’t been able to fathom the contents of it. It’s too deep, or something, for me! However, I’m still very seriously interested in it. I believe you can tell me all about the book, and explain it sufficiently for me to understand it. Then, I can go ahead and read the book with open mind and open heart.”
She said they were returning from Salt Lake City where they had visited relatives. Several of them had endeavored to enlighten her, but somehow she could not grasp the full meaning of the story.
“So,” she concluded, “if you really do know anything about the Book of Mormon, please help me to understand it.”
“Why,” I evaded, “I haven’t indicated in any way that I have the least bit of knowledge about the Mormon people or of the Book of Mormon.”
“Yes, but the little voice in my ears is still ringing, and I am certain that someone unseen has spoken to me of you,” Mrs. Lightfoot insisted. “Honestly, I’m sure you can help me. So, now please tell us all about it.”
The lady’s eagerness touched me deeply, and vividly brought to mind the promise of the Angel, the promise that the way would be opened; a promise that recently had been proven in my meeting the Indian only seven days before. I began to feel the ministering spirit again; the spirit that had come on previous occasions to bless my soul.
“Well,” I finally, but eagerly, confessed, “I do have a testimony of the Book of Mormon, and I think I am able to give you all the information you need to guide you in reading it.”
So, I began by relating my experience of burning the Book of Mormon a year before. From there I explained the contents of the book as I had to the Indian, only in a fuller sense. I had a better opportunity to elaborate, for the journey was of much longer duration. After answering many questions relative to the discussion, Mr. and Mrs. Lightfoot accepted gladly, my testimony as truth.
* * * * *
The way was opened again for another unusual contact, some time later, to whom I bore my testimony with great effect. This was a man who drives the mail car between Brownwood and Gatesville, in west Texas about two hundred miles from Austin. I was at the bus station at Brownwood about to purchase my ticket to Gatesville, when for some unexplainable reason at the time I was impressed not to do so. Following my intuition, I went to a travel bureau and inquired if they had a car going to the town I was headed for. I was informed the mail car was ready to depart, and that the driver was allowed to carry passengers, and frequently did so. So, I arranged for passage and made the trip with this man.
There was one other occupant beside the driver and myself. He was a post office official. As we journeyed along the road, the two men were very entertaining, pointing out to me many places along the way which revealed old Indians signs. After they had gone on like this for over an hour, telling stories of Indians I asked them if anyone knew the origin and past history of the Indians. The driver suddenly seemed to rise up with inspiration, and brought the car to a near stop. He looked me over with unconcealed amazement, and said, “My friend, don’t you know it?”
“How would I know?” I replied.
“I’m strongly convinced, somehow, that you do know about the origin of the Indians,” he stated.
I had in no way indicated that I knew.
“How can I possibly know, and what do you know, about the Indians?” I querried.
He said to my surprise, “The Book of Mormon tells all about it.”
“Well, I don’t know anything about it,” I told him just to draw him out.
As we resumed our journey, he began to tell us a few things contained in the book. He said he had lived for twenty years in Utah in earlier life. His wife and all her people, and all his people were Mormons. He said his wife died about twenty years ago, and he moved away from Utah and went to live in Brownwood. In his departure he had left all of his books, and he had not seen any Mormon books or met any of the members of the Church since that time. The man apologized for having forgotten many of the finer points of the Book of Mormon, and said he surely would like to remember them.
I had been silent during his explanations, but I was urged to help the man. I wanted to aid him in remembering the points forgotten; to refresh his knowledge.
He said, “If you have such knowledge, I would be most happy for a review.”
The man had forgotten the story of Ephraim and Manasseh. From there I began to refresh his memory, and for two hours along the way, we put the story together in his mind; and he rejoiced. The other passenger, the post office official, was deeply impressed, also.
* * * * *
In a village not many miles from my home, I had a friend who was a merchant. He was a good religious man of the Catholic faith. On several occasions while visiting his place of business, I offered to read to him out of the Book of Mormon. He was very frank to tell me that he was not at all interested, but I tried to leave a book for him to read at his leisure. He emphatically would not accept it. After I ceased my efforts to approach him on the matter, the subject was not mentioned at all.
Sometime later, while about to leave my friend on one of my now infrequent calls, he gave me a pleasant surprise I had not expected.
“Do not rush away,” the man said, “I would like for you to tell me all about the Book of Mormon today.”
When I happily complied, he found a comfortable place for us to sit and said, “Now, I’m ready for you to tell me the story of the book.”
He listened very attentively for two hours while I went briefly through an account of the contents of the volume. When I finished, my friend surprised me again by producing a copy of the Book of Mormon that had been hidden from me during that time.
“You have told the story perfectly,” he said extending the book toward me. “I believe every word of it.”
I was very happy to know that my friend could see the value of the record of “the ancient people.”
“I have read the book every day since you left it here four months ago,” he told me.
“You have read it every day since I left it here?” I interjected, knowing full well that I had not forced it on him even in this indirect manner that he indicated, as I had not left the book there.
“Yes. I have read it sufficiently to have considerable knowledge of it’s contents. It’s an inspiring book, and I am pleased that you have made me acquainted with it.”
“But, my good friend,” I interposed, “I did not leave the book here.”
“Oh, yes you did! How else could I have it?”
“Well, I don’t know. However, I’m positive that I did not force the volume on you.” I insisted.
It was only after persistent denial that I succeeded in convincing my friend that I was not responsible for his possession of the Book of Mormon. We both were deeply perplexed about it, and have never been able to determine for certain where the book came from.
These circumstances made a deep impression on an honest heart.
* * * * *
On various occasions in my sales work, I would meet kindly people who would offer to give me rides with them from town to town. Some were salesmen going from place to place as I was. It was through them that I have had many opportunities to reveal my testimony of the Book of Mormon. There were other occasions, however, for me to tell my story. They were frequent and there were many of them.
For quite some time it was my blessing to relate my testimony, and to make explanations of the Book of Mormon and it’s gospel story. Thus, it was that the unseen one, time after time, opened the way for me. He opened the way until I had borne witness to many, many people on varied occasions. So, I naturally came to expect new incidents along the way.
Well, my trials continued on and on; of the spirit, and trials of other natures, and the devil seemed to be on my trail.
At length, my wife had an unusual dream. This vision, it might be called, changed her outlook and attitude toward the church. She saw a man walking on a wire across the heavens and come down to earth until he stood before her. In a sharply realistic manner he said to her, “Woman, your husband has two papers which are testimonies of the gospel; I have come for them! We must have them.”
This dream was as vividly plain to her as it was to me. The meaning evidently was that I should live up to the gospel, obey it, and live up to the given testimonies, lest they be taken away. I was procrastinating my baptism. I was running away from it, trying to fix a certain, indefinite season for it. I was putting it off, and putting it off again until the Lord had apparently become displeased about it.
I am glad, with the help of the Lord, to relate my experiences on request at any occasion. And I sincerely pray that my testimony can be of aid or inspiration to some or all of those who hear it from me; and those, also, who read it through this publication.
Given in the name of Jesus Christ, I am happy with my portion; and I give thanks to God the Eternal Father.
J. C. Mathews
* * * * *
[Mathews joined the Mormon Church believing that it was necessary in order to obtain baptism. The truth long obscured however is that church membership and baptism are totally separate, or should be. Even Joseph Smith was not baptized into a church; he however was baptized a second time for membership in his own church. Today Mormons are not given the two baptism option.]