About three years ago I made a pledge to hand out 12 Books of Mormon a year. I have more than met that goal. I would estimate I have handed out more than 45 Books of Mormon over the last three years.
Now to be fair to readers, I should point out that I travel all over the world and bring Books of Mormon with me. Only about a dozen or so of the books I have handed out (four a year) are to people near where I live. The vast majority have been to acquaintances in Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Panama, the UK and Hong Kong whom I have met over the years. A lot of them have been taxi drivers.
Random thought number one: the plural is Books of Mormon, not Book of Mormons. (If you have seen “The Best Two Years,” there is a funny scene regarding this that I tried to link, but I could not find it on Youtube).
Random thought number two: if you want to hand out Books of Mormon, you must bring them with you when you go someplace. Stop reading this right now and go put a Book of Mormon in your car or your briefcase or your purse or your backpack. If you do not have a Book of Mormon, you can either get one from the missionaries or order them on-line here. I cannot emphasize this enough: go put a Book of Mormon someplace so you can hand it out.
Random thought number three: I have encountered a LOT more atheists lately than I remember from a decade ago. Has anybody else noticed this trend? My experiences do not count as a scientific survey, but the average person seems to have migrated from “I am spiritual and believe in the value of religion but don’t go to Church” or “I am Catholic” to “I don’t believe in a God that would allow people to suffer on the Earth.” I am amazed at how many people openly claim to be atheist. Is this a sign of the times?
Random thought number four: explaining the Book of Mormon in two minutes or less is really, really difficult. I am fluent in Spanish and Portuguese and don’t have a problem with the language, but I simply do not have a formula for quickly explaining our book. The average explanation always come across the wrong way (in my mind) and seems so jejune and incomplete.
Random thought number five: About half of the time I have really, really interesting discussions with people when I can get 15 minutes with them to discuss religion and the Book of Mormon. Last year I had an absolutely fabulous talk with a man who was searching for religion in Panama. He knew the Bible well and said that he could not find a religion that seemed to match the religion of the New Testament. I explained prophets and apostles to him, and it was as if we were completely in synch. I felt the Spirit really strongly during that discussion. I gave him a Book of Mormon and bore my testimony and told him to talk to the missionaries.
Random thought number six: funny story. I handed a Chinese Book of Mormon to a taxi driver in Hong Kong when he dropped me off at my hotel. (He did not speak English). I got out of the car and got my bags from the trunk and was about to go pay the guy, but he drove away! I guess he thought I was paying him with a free book. The power of the Book of Mormon!
Random thought number seven: The modern-day hero of Book of Mormon gift-giving is Bookslinger, who comments on M* pretty regularly. You can visit his blog here. He is literally famous: I believe he was mentioned in General Conference at one point for giving out Books of Mormon and blogging about it. Bookslinger helped me get my start by sending me several Books of Mormon in different languages.
Random thought number eight: I realize many of our readers live in Utah or Idaho where it is difficult to find non-members. This post is not meant to make you feel guilty. If you cannot think of anybody to give a Book of Mormon to, that’s cool. Maybe you could bring one with you next time you go on vacation? Just an idea.
I make this challenge to many Church members I talk to: make a goal of handing out more Books of Mormon than you have been doing. If you hand out one a year, try to make it two. If you haven’t handed out a Book of Mormon in a long time, try to think of somebody you could give one to. I highly recommend it.