Gary E. Stevenson BYU devotional

1908-65 53 1908-65 Gary E. Stevenson Devotional August 20 2019 Photo by Rebekah Baker/BYU © BYU PHOTO 2019 All Rights Reserved photo@byu.edu (801)422-7322

Try trading in 10 minutes a day of screen time with “Book of Mormon screen time,” Elder Gary E. Stevenson, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, told a crowd of thousands Tuesday morning at Brigham Young University.

“The Book of Mormon is the engine that powers conversion and a change of heart, leading us closer to Jesus Christ,” Stevenson said.

Stevenson taught about the early history of the church and the publication of the Book of Mormon during an Education Week devotional at the university.

Education Week started in 1922 as Leadership Week. It’s since grown from about 3,000 people in attendance to 20,000.

Stevenson said the early years of Leadership Week were held in the winter to allow farmers to attend. His own mother was an avid attender, and always returned home with job charts, disciplinary tactics and ideas on how to add soy to their meals.

Stevenson forwent the traditional speaker’s podium to walk along the stage in a way to make the talk to the group of thousands feel more intimate.

He pointed out that many of the religion’s early leaders were in their 20s during the beginnings of the church.

“Now I find it remarkable that the Lord chose this young of an age group to introduce the dispensation of the fullness of times,” Stevenson said.

What he finds even more remarkable is the publication of the Book of Mormon, which the faith believes was completed within 85 days, including the translation of 491 pages, securing copyright, finding a printer and receiving financing to print the book.

“And so my conclusion, as a result of my deep dive in the events surrounding the coming forth of the Book of Mormon is that it is truly a heavenly-directed miracle, the origins of which are irrefutable,” Stevenson said.

He said that Latter-day Saint President Russell M. Nelson refers to the history of the church as a “miraculous miracle.”

“So what we do know is what was done is an absolute miracle, even in today’s standard with modern tools of electronic dictionaries, word processing, machine learning in translation, the pace and subsequent work product are almost unthinkable,” Stevenson said.

He shared the story of four Latter-day Saint missionaries in Micronesia who contacted an attorney to get a birth certificate amended for a membership record after the city turned down the request. The attorney placed a Book of Mormon on his desk, said he’d been reading it for 20 years and believed it was true, but couldn’t be baptized because he was a heavy smoker, his family would be devastated and he’d lose his job. Stevenson said the missionaries helped him stop smoking, and both the man and his family were baptized. He is now a leader in his congregation.

“The Book of Mormon is a miracle, and it brings forth miracles, which can lead to happiness and lasting joy,” Stevenson said.