August 30, 2016
Writer: Brandon Isle
Sheila Wener, a career and academic adviser at BYU-Idaho, gave a devotional talk at BYU-Idaho on August 30, 2016, about faith and a personal testimony.
Wener shared anecdotes and research about the decline of faith in recent years. She also highlighted the rapid changes in technology and how it helps spread the gospel. "We have so much knowledge available at the touch of our hand," she said. "Family history work is much easier to do now with the development of new software programs and apps. We carry super computers in our pockets. We can do so much more to bless more lives using technology."
She told a story about a friend who started going back to church, but wasn't convinced it was true, until her boyfriend bore a powerful, simple testimony to her. "His short but sincere testimony had affected her," she said. "She didn't expect an answer from him with such conviction, but when it came she felt the spirit and realized she believed too."
The friend married her boyfriend in the San Diego temple. "Her story taught me a beautiful lesson about testimony. When you bear honest sincere testimony the spirit will witness the truth of it. Not only will your testimony grow but the testimony of those around you will grow. Never be afraid to share your testimony," she said.
Wener taught we can develop a testimony through scripture study and prayer, "When we participate in these small and simple steps on a daily basis, we invite the Spirit into our lives," she said. "The Spirit can then witness to us that God exists, that we are His children, that He loves us and wants us to return back to his presence."
During an interview with BYU-Idaho Radio, she emphasized the importance of doing the simple things, "Where we're praying every day, we're reading the scriptures, we're choosing to do something every day that keeps us close to our Heavenly Father and gives us memories so that we can remember who our Father in Heaven is, remember that he's real and remember those things while we're in the middle of something that's hard, or not even paying attention to what's happening with our testimonies," she said. "But at least we have something that's always there to remember that we have it."
She shared stories of faith from her personal life. She said one weekend while visiting a relative in Cedar City, Utah (about 500 miles away) she and her husband decided to do all they could to keep the Sabbath Day holy. They purchased food and gas for their minivan on Saturday so they could make the trip home after church on Sunday. She knew they would need to fill up with gas again before arriving home, but as the minivan approached the usual spot for refueling, it still had a tank of gas. She and her husband decided to trust God and made it all the way home on one tank, "We refer to this experience as our family Sunday miracle, and it strengthened my testimony of many things," she said. "I knew my Heavenly Father knew me, He loved me and wanted to show me I was on the right path."
She also shared a story about a friend she had before she was married who slowly started taking her away from church through various activities on Sunday, until one day he told her she was going to leave the church eventually. As she thought about what he said, she made a realization, "I had a testimony that was rooted deep into my soul," she said. "I knew that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was the true church on earth. I had a realization that everything I had ever been taught about the gospel was real. I knew I could never turn my back on Heavenly Father."
You can listen to her full devotional talk below. Click here to watch the video or read the transcript.