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The Prophet and President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Thomas S. Monson, spoke of the importance of gaining a testimony and sharing that testimony with the world before a crowd that nearly filled the Marriott Center to capacity during Tuesday’s Devotional.
President Monson shared stories of faithful students, missionaries and even a former, self-described “Mormon-basher” during his address to illustrate how the power of testimony can influence lives. Those who have a testimony emit a light that others can detect, he said.
“There’s a special spirit that surrounds such people,” President Monson said. “They radiate the love of the Savior, and help us to feel His love for us.”
President Monson also encouraged members of the Church to read and gain a testimony of the Book of Mormon so they might share that knowledge with the world by example.
“Ours is the responsibility to keep our lights aflame and burning brightly that they may shine for others to see and follow,” President Monson said.
During his address, President Monson told the story of Clayton Christensen, a professor at Harvard and a member of the LDS Church, who received a scholarship to study at Oxford. Because of the rigorous nature of Oxford’s academic programs, Christensen feared he would not have time to remain active in the Church, and he realized his own testimony lacked the strength he would need to get through the experience. He chose to make time in his schedule, dedicating the time from 11 p.m. to midnight to study of the Book of Mormon. That experience, President Monson said, changed Christensen’s life forever, and could do the same for any other member of the Church who studies the Book of Mormon of his own accord and asks God whether the book is true.
President Monson shared a story of a missionary who found himself in need of surgery while serving in the field. His example convinced others at the hospital to fast for him. He also mentioned Catholic woman from Salt Lake who changed her negative opinion of the Church after meeting two compassionate Church members. In a world of increasing darkness, there is a need for others of the LDS faith to follow such examples, President Monson said.
“It’s up to each of us to develop the faith necessary to survive spiritually, and enough light for others to see,” President Monson said.
President Monson also shared some of his personal quirks and interests with the crowd, breaking from his prepared talk to explain why he is careful with his actions in front of large crowds: he once received a call from a woman who believed a gesture he had made from the stand was an attempt to propose. Despite being married, he doesn’t always wear his wedding band, he said. He also told of his habit of bringing a notebook to record quotes during movies, and shared his favorite quote from “The Lion King” — “Look inside yourself, Simba. You are more than what you have become.”
President Monson waved to the audience and shook hands with security guards as he departed after his address.
Earlier that morning, students braved wind and pouring rain hours before the Devotional to hear President Monson’s address. Campers pitched a pair of tents in front of the Marriott Center despite the weather and they were soon joined by droves of students and faculty. By 10 a.m., seats other than the benches behind the stage were scarce, and the BYU combined choir had an audience of several thousand for their pre-devotional warm-up. For some students, such as Emilie Stiles, a freshman from Bakersfield, Calif. for whom the Devotional represented her first chance to hear President Monson speak in person, the experience was especially exciting.
“His son is my stake president,” Stiles said. “But that’s the closest I ever thought I’d get to hearing the Prophet.”