I, Steven, having been born of goodly parents, was somewhat educated in the Church of Christ until I was seventeen years of age. At the age of fifteen, my father suddenly passed away and I had to live with my minister for over a year because of my mother’s health. It was during this time I became aware that the minister, while a good man, was also a hypocrite. Members of his flock would come to his office, which was in his house, and pour out their sorrows and troubles to him. After they would leave, he would call out to his wife “listen to this one” and tell her the story or confession given in confidence to him. I couldn’t help but wonder who else he told these stories to. He was very pious to the world at large and did have a love of Christ and had dedicated his life to His service but was unable to maintain a confidence that was given to his as a pastor.
When I finally returned home, I began searching for a church that I could feel better about. I went to several different churches and denominations, including a synagogue for a time, but never felt that this is the right one. The typical answer I received to questions were like the one I got from the priest at the Catholic church which was “you just have to take it on faith” and “you’ll learn more when you get older and can appreciate it better”. I went to every church I could find except the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Assembly of God, for I knew that they weren’t right.
I left home in 1965 to join the Marine Corps and served in Vietnam for over forty-two months and was wounded three times. The expression that there are no atheists in a fox hole is mainly true as I came ever closer to Jesus Christ during this time. I gave up looking for an organized church and just studied the Bible when I could. My life was hard and I worked and played hard as I thought befitting a sergeant in the Marine Corps.
I mustered out of the Corps in 1974 and returned to Illinois. In 1975 I left the frozen tundra of northern Illinois and moved to Twentynine Palms, California in the Mojave Desert to thaw out.
I continued my quest to find a church what would answer my questions and still my troubled heart. One Sunday, while attending the Lutheran Church, I was in the men’s Bible study group. The minister asked one of the men to read a particular chapter and verse. I do not remember which one it was but when he read it, it was not the same one as I had in the King James version. I asked the fellow on my left what his scriptures said and it was different from the first two. The person on my right also had a different version. I asked the group in general and found there were several different versions of the same verse and they all led to different conclusions. When I returned home after church, I laid out the large collection of different interpretations of the Bible that I had collected over the years to ponder this dilemma. I even had the Reader’s Digest Condensed Version, a version that said Christ was a woman and a version that said that Christ was not the son of God but had no sex, neither male or female.
While I was thus studying this problem, two young men in white shirts and black name tags knocked on my front door. When they said who they were and what they represented, I almost dragged them into my house and said I have many questions for you. I since know that the Spirit had guided them to my door as it was unusual for the missionaries to be tracting between meetings on the Sabbath when the church still had the split schedule.
I asked Elder Mulford and Elder Walker many questions over the next weeks and listened to the old rainbow discussions but still had many more questions. Elder Mulford even gave me his underlined and highlighted copy of the Book of Mormon to read.
When Elder Mulford left the mission and returned home, Elder Moulton came to work with Elder Walker, I continued to ask questions. What’s this about horses and concrete in the Book of Mormon, what’s a curelom, and other questions of this ilk. In time they provided answers to my questions and brought light and truth into my home. They taught me many great and wonderful things but it was only after I sincerely fasted and prayed about what I had learned did the Spirit testify to me that it was true. They brought me the Gospel but the Spirit did the converting.
The Lutheran minister tried to talk me out of meeting with the missionaries, saying it was all of the devil. I was able to testify to him that what they had taught me was true and the Gospel of Jesus Christ had been restored. I finally realized I had a testimony and requested baptism for myself and my family. On Christmas day, 1976, we had a truly white Christmas.
I am so thankful for the dedication of the missionaries that taught me the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The sacrifice of two years of their youth to bring the sweetness of the restored Church of Jesus Christ to a spiritually parched people is a great demonstration of their faith in and love for the Savior.
With each passing year the great Plan of Salvation becomes ever more precious. I will be eternally grateful for the Gospel and for those wonderful Melchizedek Priesthood holders that followed the promptings of the Spirit and came to my door and continue to do so.
Steven E. Klauser
Pleasant Grove, Utah