Editor's note: Part 4 in a series of essays on visiting sites significant to the history of The Church of Jesus-Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The power of standing on the same front porch where the Prophet Joseph Smith stood after having been tarred and feathered is something I will never forget. There was such an overwhelming feeling of love, gratitude, inspiration and humility. The John Johnson Home in Hiram, Ohio, is one of those life-changing church historical sites that if you ever have the chance to visit, you should take full advantage of it.
I was blessed to have experienced my youth in the Kirtland Ohio Stake. The special LDS Church historical sites in that area became a part of me through those years. As a youth, we had numerous opportunities to enjoy these special sites that are so significant to the restored church. It is difficult for me to choose a favorite, but I have such a deep love for the John Johnson Home. Having had the blessing of attending early morning seminary in that area, I was blessed to have had a lesson or two in that home to help strengthen my testimony.
Some significant events took place in the John Johnson Home. For a period of time, the Prophet Joseph Smith lived there. A number of visions were received in that home as well as 15 sections of the Doctrine and Covenants. Translation of scripture took place there. And it's where the Prophet Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon were beaten, tarred and feathered by an angry mob.
For me, opening the front door of the John Johnson Home and stepping out onto the porch, my personal testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith was not only strengthened but solidified.
I can remember like it happened yesterday. The door was closed and it was early in the morning and there was a chill outside. We had just reviewed the experience of what the Prophet Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon had gone through when they were dragged out of the home, beaten, tarred and feathered. As I opened that front door and stepped out onto the porch as did Joseph Smith that next morning, it was hard to imagine what he saw and felt.
As I stood there, I can distinctly remember the feelings in my heart of genuine love, gratitude, peace, warmth and clarity. I knew that was the spirit letting me know that Joseph Smith was a prophet. I then tried to imagine what Joseph was feeling and thinking. As the tears welled up in my eyes, I realized that no matter how hard I tried, I just could not even imagine what he was going through. All I knew was that the Lord was with him and that he taught by example what it means to forgive others.
On Oct. 28, 2002, President Gordon B. Hinckley stated the following as he dedicated the John Johnson Home: “So long as this church lasts, so long as it goes across the earth, so long as its history is written and known, the John Johnson Home will have a prominent place in that history.”
This historic church site is one of beauty. It is a home of simplicity but significance. There is a spirit that permeates from all corners of the John Johnson Home, and I am so thankful for the opportunity that I had to live close enough to visit often. It is a place where one can gain, confirm and strengthen their testimony of the gospel.
Seth Saunders is an executive business consultant and leadership coach. He has been married 18 years to his amazing wife, Amber, and is the proud father of three sons. He is passionate about helping others succeed.