Last week we were over at a friend’s house and the missionaries stopped by. They gave the usual spiritual thought, and challenged us all to bear our testimonies this week. It worked. But the most surprising part was that my kids also participated.
The missionaries had asked what testimony was, and we told them “things that we know.” Sullivan, my oldest, was paying attention.
Now our quasi-dysfunctional ward in the Bronx isn’t like the usual Utah ward, where there are always a dozen kids waiting in the wings to say “IliketobearmytestimonyIknowthischurchistrueinthenameofJesusChristAmen.” In fact, we haven’t had a child’s testimony for some time.
Also, I hadn’t borne my own testimony in Sacrament meeting for some time. I did a few times when we moved in, but it was probably a good two years since I had done so. Testimony meeting for our family is generally spent like every other meeting — trying to keep three energetic kids from tearing the chapel apart.
Sacrament meeting was progressing, and I told Sullivan, my oldest son, that I was going to bear my testimony. Up I went, and he came with me. And after I had finished, it was his turn. Speaking directly into the microphone (less than a millimeter away from it, nice and loud), he said:
“I know that Jesus is true. I know that he was the only person who didn’t make any sins. I know that Heavenly Father helped him to survive after going more than 21 days without eating any food. I know that when Jesus was born, there was a new star, and the king sent his soldiers to kill the babies, but they didn’t kill Jesus. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.”
After we got back down to our pew, he said quietly to me “I forgot to say that I know that Jesus died for us.” I told him that that was okay. “Besides,” he then told me, “everybody already knows that.”
Kace, our middle son, wanted to follow up with his own testimony. He’s only five, rather than seven like Sullivan. He followed Mardell up to the stand, and gave a quick, rambling stream-of-consciousness, bearing testimony to these facts: Arizona is far away; Grandma lives in Arizona; Kace went to primary there; some states don’t have churches; Kace has the same Grandma as his brother. He got a few laughs (particularly “I have the same Grandma as my brother”) and really liked it. He reported “I made people laugh.”
Indigo was last. She’s just two, but she said “I love Jesus” and then froze up and Mardell took her down. She was upset afterwards because she wanted to go back up and say “In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen” but we didn’t let her.
Afterwards, the Bishop was very positive about the kids’ testimonies. He mentioned them favorably as he closed the sacrament meeting, and then again in Priesthood meeting.
I recall sitting in sacrament meetings as a teenager and as a young adult, while hordes of children gave boilerplate testimonies, and thinking how inane the whole process was. But last week, I really enjoyed it. And so did the kids. They took an early step in bearing testimony, and in public speaking generally. I got to be the proud parent. And everyone seemed to like it.
Maybe kids’ testimonies aren’t so bad after all.