My Title of Liberty

     "In Memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children." - Alma 46:12    

My Search for Truth

My parents took me to my Grandparent's church in Keizer, Oregon when I was very young. My mother wrote in my Baby Book that I began saying my prayers before I was four years old. While I was still quite young, I began praying for the Lord to save me before going to bed. I would go to bed feeling "saved" but the next night I would feel the need to pray the same prayer again. After a while, I accepted what I was told that having said the prayer, and meaning it, that I was saved.

After we moved from town (Salem, Oregon) to the outskirts, or the "toolies" as we called them, we began going to a new Baptist church in town which was started by our new next door neighbor, Rev. Jim Spillman.

I was baptized by the next pastor, Rev. John R. Turnbull, in that church, and became a church member.

Our third pastor was Jet S. Turner. He had been a missionary in Italy for a while, and also a chaplain in the U.S. Navy. His wife, Pat, was a professionally trained singer.

Our fourth pastor was Warren Fleishman. His wife, Shirley, was a nurse.

All four of these pastors had a great influence on my life. I knew they loved the people in the church, and especially the youth.

I rededicated my life to Jesus Christ in a gathering at a revival meeting in the First Baptist Church in Salem.

When in High School, I decided to go to college and seminary to become a pastor like the pastors I had.

In college (a Baptist College, though they had members of other denominations attending there), I came to know for myself that the Bible was the word of God, and that it wasn't just because I was raised to believe it. God gave me peace both of heart and mind that it is true.

While at the same college, with the knowledge that the Bible is true, I came to the conclusion that one of the doctrines I had been taught growing up, namely, "Once Saved, Always Saved," is not supported by the Bible. I later realized that I could not conscientiously be a pastor in a church where I would be expected to teach something that the Bible did not support.

After looking around a bit, I joined the Salvation Army. It had thirteen statements of faith that were required for membership, and at the time I accepted them. I was bothered by the fact that they did not baptize, but there was no statement of faith on that subject.

While in the U.S. Army, I was dissatisfied with the Army Chapels, as they seemed too wishy-washy. I needed more spiritual meat. On Okinawa, I went off-base and found a Pentecostal Servicemen's Center where I learned about the Gift of the Holy Ghost in a way that I had not known before, and it seemed to have a Biblical basis. I prayed for the Gift of the Holy Ghost with the tongues, but never received it. In that I returned home disappointed.

My first wife was Roman Catholic, and we were married in an ecumenical wedding ceremony, both the Corps Captain and her Priest officiated. She was taking a class preparing her to join the Salvation Army when she died.

While she was alive, Jehovah's Witnesses came to our door, and we, at my wife's insistence, did not invite them in. After she died, however, I let them come in, and listened to them. They brought up the fact that the Bible does not support the Trinity doctrine, that is, that God is somehow three persons in one, inseparable, a mystery. I studied with them for a while, but left them finally, because they do not believe that Jesus has a body, that when he showed himself to his disciples after the resurrection, he did not really have the body he showed to them. The Bible does not support that view. But I did leave the Salvation Army over the Trinity doctrine.

I checked out some Pentecostal Churches, a Seventh-Day Adventist church, the World-Wide Church of God, and others. Each had some things the others did not that were Biblical, but none had all of the pieces together. I began to be discouraged. I thought I might have to start my own church to preach what the Bible teaches without consideration for some creed of man.

Then, one night while working at the Y.M.C.A., one of the residents asked me what I thought of the Book of Mormon. I told him (as I had been taught as a youth) that I thought Joseph Smith probably believed what he wrote, but that he was deceived by the devil. He then said that I would have to read the Book of Mormon, pray about it, and ask God if it were true. That stopped me in my objections, for I had needed to do that with the Bible, and I knew that God would answer my prayers and would tell me if it were true. So I did. I read through the entire Book of Mormon, while praying, and then began reading the Doctrine and Covenants. Halfway through that book, I received my answer while walking down the sidewalk. Suddenly all the questions I had had about the Book of Mormon were settled, like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle settling into place. I had knowledge in my mind and peace in my heart on the matter. That was in 1975.

I was baptized by the Bishop about a month later. I have been through many changes in my life since then, but I have never had any reason to question the testimony that I received that day. I have learned a lot more, and understand that it is my responsibility to continue to build on that initial testimony, testimonies of more truth that will help me in my life and in eternity.

-- David E. Sawyer --