In his new book, Face To Face, brother Wilcox relates his struggle to gain a testimony of the Book of Mormon.
He says that he “was raised by a mother who had a powerful testimony of the Book of Mormon. It had been the key to her own conversion as she struggled out of inactivity and rebellion.”
Because of his mother’s testimony he never doubted the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. He had assumed when the time came to read it for himself that he would gain his own witness. So at age fourteen he decided to read the Book of Mormon independently for the first time.
He writes, “however, for whatever inexplicable reason, as I started to read it I was filled with darkness. Doubts seemed to consume me. I sometimes physically trembled with a gripping fear that at certain moments was terrifying. How could my mother be wrong? How could the wonderful people and organization I loved have arisen out of fraud and deception?”
As the weeks turned to months and then into years he continued to struggle the Book of Mormon. He hoped that studying the Book of Mormon in his senior year of high school seminary would bring about the testimony he needed. It didn’t, he tried to drop out but his Bishop pressured him to stay.
After high school graduation he went to BYU and took a Book of Mormon class. It turned out to be a worse experience than his seminary class. But he says, “I was seventeen and, though it may sound strange considering my lack of Book of Mormon conviction, I never considered not going on a mission.”
When Michael turned nineteen he submitted his mission papers. He decided to talk with returned missionaries and took notes in a spiral notebook about their advice on how to be a successful missionary. He acquired many wonderful ideas but decided to ask Heavenly Father a question.
“One night I knelt beside my bed with the spiral notebook and laid it out before my Father in Heaven. I have collected all these ideas, I told him, but I feel something is missing. If you were to add anything to my list what would it be? With a voice as audible as the Spirit can offer without literally penetrating the ears, I heard these words: ‘Bear testimony that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God–and that the Book of Mormon is true.’ Why did I not receive those words when I was fourteen, or in seminary, or at BYU? Why then? I do not know, but I went to France and could sit before those we taught and tell them while looking fully into their eyes that I knew Joseph Smith was a prophet and the Book of Mormon was true. Sometimes they would ask me how I knew this and I would answer, ‘Because the voice of God declared it unto me.’”