As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I am a missionary at heart. Before I began studying botany and geographic science at Brigham Young University, I formally represented the Church on a full-time mission in Spain from 1993-1995. In various cities along the Mediterranean coast, I worked long days as the seasons progressed until two years of volunteer service were completed. A few individuals I met were interested in the Church’s message about the Prophet Joseph Smith and the restoration of Christ’s prophets and apostles in the nineteenth century. A small number of men and women I talked with accepted the invitation to read portions of the Book of Mormon. Some took to heart the invitation to pray and ask God to manifest its truth to them. I saw hope, happiness, and faith begin to fill the hearts of people who accepted the restored gospel and who strived to live all of its teachings. This illuminated my own faith.
After serving as a full-time missionary, I returned home in the fall of 1995 to Covered Bridge Canyon, a small mountain community south of Provo, Utah. Today I don’t have a different testimony of Christ’s restored gospel or plan of salvation than I did sixteen years ago in Spain, though it has become stronger with the help of the Holy Ghost and also through frequent study. As I consider how I obtained this testimony, there are many evidences to count in both nature and humanity. The foundational reasons why I am a Latter-day Saint have to do with the Book of Mormon and its ancient authors’ message about the living Christ. I know their words are true and that they are of God. The Book of Mormon helped me understand what steps were necessary to obtain this knowledge, and explained to me that it is obtained in the name of Christ and by the power of the Holy Ghost.
As my father, F. LaMond Tullis, notes in his written testimony on this website, he can’t prove his faith. I know what he is talking about. I can’t prove my faith with either reason or science. I rely upon revelation from God through the Holy Ghost to know the truth of the Book of Mormon. I have been blessed to have my understanding of scriptures gradually improved. As amply proclaimed in the official publications of the Church of Jesus Christ, the canon of scripture is open. For me, this is like being able to peer through the expanding digital archives of space sensors and telescopes. There will always be more to learn of divine and human things. Study and reason are wonderful gifts from God that enable this process. These helped me fulfill some of the preparatory requirements even before I asked God whether the Book of Mormon was true. Revelation was and is available to answer our deepest questions.
In the things of God, divine special revelation ranks higher than our own reasoning. We may ask: “What is the point of all these challenges we face?” I have asked this question. And received what I can recognize as answers. I know that God loves me, and that he loves all of us, individually in ways that are beyond our current human comprehension. I can’t explain how this works. I simply know it and this knowledge has brought me comfort and peace when these were most needed, including during times of sorrow after loved ones passed away. Seeking the truth in and about the Book of Mormon is worth the effort! It leads to other treasures of knowledge by revelation from God.
Sixteen years after serving a full-time Church mission in Spain, I am still anxious to share my faith with friends and neighbors, or anyone who is searching for answers to questions such as “What is the purpose of life?” or other really important questions. I know that God will answer prayers even if the questions are tough. I am often invited to assist the local full-time missionaries as they teach Christ’s words from ancient and modern scripture. I have also been invited by local Church members to actively support community service projects such as the annual Northwest Arkansas [Emergency] Preparedness Fair and a major tree cleanup project following a severe ice storm in 2009. Serving others is a way to share my faith by example.
I am amazed how the gospel lessons taught by the missionaries and a desire to serve others are also taught by prophets and apostles in modern times. Their words in turn confirm ancient scriptures including the Holy Bible, the Book of Mormon, and the Pearl of Great Price. Being a Latter-day Saint is like being a “saint” in the primitive church, when it was led by Christ through Peter, James, John, and the apostles. Jesus Christ has restored his kingdom in modern times through the Prophet Joseph Smith, and it is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This was seen by Daniel as a “stone… cut out of the mountain without hands” (Daniel 2:45). It is God’s work.
It is a most wonderful freedom and privilege to be a Latter-day Saint. The accompanying blessing of knowing that Christ lives, and that his plan of salvation or restored gospel is extended to all humanity, including even me, is news too great for words.
Jason A. Tullis traces a strong sense of place to the mountains around Covered Bridge Canyon, Utah, his home between 1980 and 1999. (His family took him to Lewes, England and Princeton, New Jersey for year-long stays where new adventures were not hard to find.) He served as a full-time Latter-day Saint missionary in the Spain Barcelona Mission from 1993-1995. He studied geographic information science (GIS), botany, and remote sensing at Brigham Young University and University of South Carolina. He now lives in Fayetteville, Arkansas with his wife Marrianne and their three children. Jason has served in a variety of local Church “callings” or assignments within the Fayetteville 2nd Ward. He is an Associate Professor in the Department of Geosciences at University of Arkansas. His university work is energized by an untapped potential of geography, computing, and remote sensing to facilitate wise land use decisions and multidisciplinary discovery in a modern information economy. He serves as the Associate Editor of GIScience and Remote Sensing. Jason enjoys practicing language skills gained in Spain, and in his work this has given him a love for Latin America.
Posted May 2011