Testimony Meeting

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(This is an excerpt from My Name Used to be Muhammad by Jeff Benedict and Tito Momen.)

At 9:30 sharp the congregation assembled and started singing a Christian hymn. The tune was unfamiliar. So were the words. Yet as I listened to the references to Christ and love, I felt as if wind were rushing through me. My heartbeat picked up as I observed the facial expressions of those around me. What I saw didn’t match all the awful things I had been taught about Christians.

Gaston explained that it was customary on the first Sunday of each month for random members to stand up and testify from the podium. One after another, men and women of various races and nationalities expressed their faith in the divinity of Jesus Christ, along with their belief in the Bible and the Book of Mormon as holy scripture. A couple of the men who spoke were individuals I had seen in an intoxicated state at the clubs. To see them sober and singing praises to Christ had me scratching my head. Something was going on. I wasn’t sure what. But I couldn’t escape the feeling I had inside. I recognized that there had to be something to this Christian religion.

It was peculiar enough to see people who weren’t clergy speaking from the podium. But then a little boy from Nigeria stood and walked to the podium. He could not have been older than nine or ten. He had on a white shirt and a tie and was barely tall enough to reach the microphone.

“Good morning, fathers and mothers,” he said.

“Good morning!” the entire congregation responded.

“I am grateful to share my testimony,” the boy said. “I love my family. I love everybody in the church. I am thankful for all the support I get from the church. The Book of Mormon is true. Joseph Smith is a prophet of God. Ezra Taft Benson is a living prophet. Jesus is the Christ. I bear my humble testimony in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.”

Then he returned to his seat. In all my years as a Muslim, I had never seen a child addressing adults on spiritual matters. When the boy first began speaking, I was floored. He spoke plainly. His message was simple, yet powerful. I knew the boy’s father, who worked at the Nigerian embassy.

Gaston could see that I was taken by the boy. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Gaston told me, encourages children to participate in worship services.

To me that sounded improper. Yet it felt so right. It caused me to question, once again, the aspect of my Muslim upbringing that emphasized the evil nature of Christianity. This boy was humble, meek, and sincere, not exactly qualities associated with evil.

There’s something here, I kept telling myself. I felt as if an invisible rope were pulling me. The words people spoke were persuasive. But the feeling they conveyed in those words left a more powerful impression.

(Tito Momen, My Name Used to be Muhammad: The True Story of a Muslim Who Became a Christian [Salt Lake City: Ensign Peak, 2013], 165–67).

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