Because of Life Experiences the BOM is True?

Professor Reflects on Life - Changing Experiences


By Kirsten Swenson

BYU NewsNet
8 Aug 2007

Larry Echohawk spoke to students of his conversion to the Book of Mormon, by telling stories of the people who influenced him, during Tuesday's devotional.

Professor Echohawk, a law professor, looked back on three life-changing experiences that helped him gain his testimony of the Book of Mormon and the church.

Life was hard growing up as a Pawnee Indian as people would discriminate against his background.

"As I look back through past years, perhaps the most painful thought is the realization that in my childhood my family had no expectations of achieving a higher education and becoming doctors, lawyers or engineers," Echohawk said. "A college education seemed beyond our reach."

The first experience happened to Echohawk when he was 14 years old. Not knowing much about the Christian faith, he learned from the Mormon missionaries. His entire immediate family was baptized.

Echohawk continued living the way he did before he was baptized, not having much of a testimony. He was just happy his family was together.

This experience, although it did not seem so big in his life then, paved the way for the second experience he had, helping him gain a testimony of the church.

Between his junior and senior year of high school, Echohawk had a new priest quorum adviser, Richard Boren, who took special interest in him.

"You can do anything you want," Boren said to him. "You can go to college, get a good education and do wonderful things with your life."

Brother Boren helped Echohawk train for the football team his senior year. Because of Echohawk's hard work and dedication, he earned himself the spot as starting quarterback, beating out the team captain.

As the first game grew close, Echohawk experienced something horrible. He was struck in the eye with a football, was bandaged up and sent home to lie in bed for a week in fear that his eyesight would not return.

"How could this happen," Echohawk said. "Why me?"

This accident turned into a blessing. As he lay in bed, Echohawk started thinking about the gospel seriously, he said.

Echohawk said he thought about everything Brother Boren had taught him about Christ, the scriptures and prayer. He slipped out of bed and dropped to his knees, praying intently for the first time. He promised Heavenly Father if his eyes would heal, he would read the Book of Mormon.

Within a week, his eyes were back to normal and he kept his promise.

After reading ten pages a day, finally finishing, he knelt down on his knees and prayed.

"At that moment, I had my first very strong spiritual experience," he said. "I knew then the Book of Mormon was true."

That experience increased his faith and testimony of the church. He continued playing football for his high school and ended up receiving a full-ride scholarship to BYU to play football. His dream of attending college came true.

Echohawk had the privilege as a young man to meet Spencer W. Kimball. He became one of Echohawk's greatest mentors.

One day while attending BYU, President Kimball gave a speech entitled, "This is My Vision" where he talked about a dream he had concerning the future of the Lamanites. President Kimball told them they would be lawyers and great leaders. Echohawk took his words to heart as he decided to continue his education at law school.

Today, Echohawk can say that his dream of finishing his goals did come true. He, along with all of his siblings, graduated from college. He has practiced law, served as the Attorney General for Idaho and has served in many capacities in the church.

"I am glad I was able to say without hesitation that I am a Mormon and that I know the Book of Mormon is true," he said.