Claude H. O'Donovan
My life has been chock-full of adventure and success. It ranged from accompanying nuclear weapons to SAC [Strategic Air Command] bases all over the world for the US Air Force, to flying a helicopter out of Point Barrow, Alaska on a mission to study and tag Polar Bears, to additionally tagging Brown Bears, Caribou and Moose, to living on the Columbia Glacier with a University of Washington group of Glaciologists, to running a company with over four hundred employees, to motivational speaking for thousands of people across the country. I have run congressional political campaigns (never personally a candidate), and I have hosted at least ten presidential candidates and organized their agendas when they visited South Carolina. I have spent considerable time being interviewed on TV and Radio, usually on local and national political topics.
I entered the US Air Force after graduating from Paso Robles High School in California. My first permanent duty station was Hill AFB, Utah. There I met a Mormon girl whose father just happened to be a Ward Bishop in Syracuse, Utah. Of course, not too long after we had started dating and becoming serious, it was arranged for me to meet the Ward Missionaries. Not being at all strong in things of the Bible, I was ill prepared to question the lessons. The missionary lessons sounded rational and I dutifully read the verses they suggested in the Book of Mormon. When they asked me to pray the Moroni 10:4 prayer, my bosom burned and I had my testimony. I was baptized in 1960 and entered the Aaronic Priesthood almost immediately. My sweetheart and I decided that we didn't want to wait the year for me to qualify for a temple recommend, so we eloped.
In 1961 I received my recommend and we went to the Salt Lake Temple for our endowments and were sealed for "time and eternity". For the next five years we lived the classic LDS-totally-involved-life. After my discharge from the USAF, I attended Weber State College (now university) for two years. I discovered that the US Army was training helicopter pilots and applied through the Utah Army National Guard. I had always wanted to fly aircraft, especially helicopters. I qualified and went to Fort Wolters, Texas for pre-flight and primary training. My LDS wife was not allowed to accompany me, because I had to live with the other Warrant Office Candidates in the barracks.
Leaving Zion (Utah) began my slippery slope out of Mormonism. I stopped wearing my garments (too many stares from fellow trainees in the barracks) and didn't attend church for the next ten months during flight school. The program was tough--133 started in February and by April we were down to 35. You had to want it with every cell in your body to make it. After graduating (at the top of my class), I was offered a job instructing beginning Army pilots by Southern Airways. The rest of my class went to Viet Nam. I jumped at the chance and moved my wife to Mineral Wells, Texas. She followed my lead and we didn't become involved with the small LDS branch group in Mineral Wells.
Three years later I got a job in Fairbanks, Alaska as a bush pilot. The plan was to fly summers and finish school. Political Science had become my love at Weber State and I couldn't wait to get back. However at the end of my first season, my employer, Merric Helicopters (later to become ERA Aviation that is featured on NGTV's "Flying Wild Alaska"), offered me the Chief Pilot’s job at three times the money I would make if I got my college degree. Besides, flying in Alaska was the ultimate male rush.
However this slid me even further from my LDS commitment. After four years, this and the fact I was gone all the time on company business, began to bother my wife and finally she had enough and went back to Utah, ending our thirteen year marriage.
I re-married, and not wanting to destroy this relationship, quit my position and moved to Oregon. In 1979, my second wife and I began to feel a spiritual void and began looking at churches. It did not occur to me to return to my Mormon roots. The Lord saw fit to put several people that I highly respected in my path and each one of was a committed Christian. In January 1980 I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior as did my wife.
Being a "Born Again" Christian was quite a jump for me as it is for anyone leaving Mormonism after being duped so totally by Joseph Smith's cult. I had been programmed to believe the that the Bible was corrupt and Christians were less than intelligent and totally misled by a corrupt leadership. It was confirmed by the troubles some ministries suffered at the hands of unscrupulous leaders.
About a year after I had accepted Christ, my pastor gave me a book by Dr. Walter Martin, "The Maze of Mormonism". I sat up all night reading it and recognized everything in it was valid. What a revelation that was! I immediately applied with the local LDS Bishop to have myself ex-communicated.
I found out about a ministry called "Saints Alive in Jesus" (SAIJ), out of Issaquah, Washington, and went up to meet with them. They needed someone, preferably an ex-Mormon like me, to run the state of Oregon and I jumped at the chance. Our job was to show the newly SAIJ produced 55 minute film "The God Makers" to churches and inoculate their members from the LDS message and missionary effort. SAIJ had found that many, if not most, church goers thought that Mormonism was a Christian denomination. When churchgoers, who had not fully become Christians by accepting Christ as savior, heard the programmed LDS lessons, they were highly susceptible to buying its message and joining the Mormon Church. They found that the salvation by works message rang true to these folks who would swallow it hook, line, and sinker.
On occasion we would help usher someone out of Mormonism and that was the frosting on the cake. It was really rewarding to see them, for the first time, question the Joseph Smith/Brigham Young, et.al. teachings. The instant they questioned anything, it was like they had pulled a blindfold off and now they could see how totally bankrupt of spiritual validity the LDS Church is. It is a universal LDS member experience that when they question just one of Joseph Smith's doctrines, the house of cards crumbles. The challenge was to help them cross the bridge into the truth of Christ and the Bible. If a knowledgeable Christian disciple was not on hand when this revelation occurred, there was a good chance they would feel so duped and embarrassed that they had fallen for this obviously false religion, that they would not want to take a chance again. After all, they had been taught over and over how bad all the Christian denominations were and how these churches taught false and incomplete doctrine. They also "knew" that the Bible had been corrupted and many "plain and precious truths" had been taken out and that all the translations were inaccurate.
Now to the crux of why I submitted this testimonial letter... a high percentage of Mormons who investigate Mormonism and leave it, from information they glean from the web, have not made the transition from Mormonism to Christ and the Bible for the reasons stated above. They have taken the easy way out and failed to make any effort to connect the dots by realizing that not only is Mormonism a false religion, but its teachings about Christianity and the Bible are also untrue.
I have invested over thirty years in studying the Bible. I've been to Israel and seen the proof of the archeological digs. It is infallible; it's historical record is validated in every way. The Qumran manuscripts (they found all but two of the Old Testament books) were discovered from 1946 to 1956, and are nearly a thousand years older than the earliest manuscripts (the Masoretic) used to translate the Old Testament, yet there were only minor grammatical differences. Where there was no archeological proof of the Book of Mormon, there are literally tens of thousands of manuscripts, codices, archeological digs, and non-Christian historical accounts, objectively validating the Bible.
Additionally there are literally thousands of prophecies from the Bible that have been fulfilled. There were over 300 such prophecies about Jesus--for instance, where and when he would be born, what his genealogy would be, where he would travel, how he would die, that the centurions would gamble over his cloak, etc., etc. All of these were recorded between 1,200 and 400 years before he lived on earth. The probability that Jesus of Nazareth could have fulfilled even eight such prophecies would be ten to the seventeenth power against it. That many silver dollars would be enough to cover the entire state of Texas two feet deep. Now I've lived in Texas. I've driven across Texas. Texas is a very big state. Who in his right mind would suppose that a blindfolded man, heading out of Dallas by foot in any direction, would be able, on his very first attempt, to find and pick up one specifically marked silver dollar out of 100,000,000,000,000,000? This is only fulfilling eight prophesies, not three hundred. Is the Bible valid? You bet, do the research and find out for yourself.
It is my hope and prayer that some future LDS victim will read this account and be willing to not only reject Mormonism, but walk the bridge of truth in Christ and give their life to Him and thus know the joy of being in the true body of Christ.
Claude H. O'Donovan