Testimony of Kevin Brown
2004
For the past three years, I and numerous others have gone to Hill Cumorah in
Mexico for several weeks with Neil Steede. For those who don’t know, Neil is an
expert in Mayan archaeology and a member of the Community of Christ church.
Our goal has been to gain entrance to a cave that is forty feet off the ground on a
thousand foot cliff face. We believe that in this cave is the complete library of the
Nephites and the Jaredites.

The mountain, which the natives have been calling for centuries “The hill of the
tablets,” is surrounded by miles of jungle. Although there is a small village in the
shadow of this impressive mountain, there is no industry- only survival.
Population is scarce.

Archaeology tells us several important things. This mountain is proven to be the
site of two tremendous battles. The first battle occurred hundreds of years before
the other; the latter being somewhere in the late third century A.D. There are no
ancient settlements anywhere close to the mountain. The only artifacts found
are those of war and those used for food preparation. The different artifacts are
distinctive of two different cultures -that of the Olmec (who we believe to be the
Jaredites) and that of the Maya (the Nephites and Lamanites). We know that the
land was clear cut at the times of the battles through core samples of the soil. It
is now becoming the accepted idea for archaeologists that the Maya were in a
world war with the southern cities against the northern. Scientists can now read
city names and the names of those who ruled them. They have translated one
city’s name to be Muluc (similar to the Book of Mormon’s Mulek), another to be
Lamani, and the lineage of another is the exact kingship of the Book of Mormon’
s Zarahemla.

When we are on the mountain and look out over the valley and the river, it is
hard to imagine the death and the carnage that happened so long ago. Maybe it’s
because of the jungle’s covering that we can’t fathom that many people in this
valley. Or maybe it’s just hard to imagine the hatred that must have been in the
hearts of those who fought and the remorse of those few Nephites who were left
standing when all others were fallen.

The Book of Mormon chapter three tells of the final battle between the Nephites
and the Lamanites. The last years of Mormon’s life were turbulent. Mormon was
charged with leading his people to battle against the Lamanites, not just this one
last time, but for years. He preached repentance. He cried unto the people to
accept Jesus Christ and turn from their wicked ways. He was tired. He knew that
their time on Earth was growing short. He wrote to the king of the Lamanites,
asking to be allowed to gather all of his people together to wage one large battle,
a battle to end all battles. I believe he hoped in his heart that the Nephites would
again gain favor unto the Lord through repentance, and have victory over the
Lamanites. The king agreed and so Mormon marched all of his people to the
holy, sacred mountain of Cumorah. I imagine a solemn journey, an exodus of
biblical proportions, but with a different end. Having gathered together, the
Nephites numbered at least 230,000 people. The Lamanites came with numbers
that far exceeded the Nephites, and the war that transpired was horrific. When
the fighting was done, there were only twenty four Nephites left-Mormon and
Moroni among them. Mormon lamented for his people. He preached to them as
if they could still hear. Why didn’t they accept Jesus Christ? Why didn’t they
repent of their sins? As the day ended, they stood at the top of Cumorah and
looked down at the camps of the Lamanites. What were those twenty four men
thinking, knowing that there was no hope for their own survival?

April 6th of this year, four members of our expedition team went up Cumorah in
prayer and fasting, asking for guidance and direction. After a couple rounds of
prayer, we were meditating when Neil asked if we were ready to leave. I said that
I wasn’t and that I was supposed to dig. I began to dig, right where I was sitting,
with much fervor and conviction. I started to find pieces of pottery and then,
about five inches down, I found a tablet made of grey shale, about 15 inches long
and 12 inches wide, with markings on it. I told the group that the markings were
writing, more specifically, Ogam. That comment was unusual for me because
there are only a handful of people in the world that know what Ogam is; I am not
one of them. I then took the tablet and headed down the mountain, making my
way through the jungle, alone. As I came closer to the end of the jungle, I came
to a place where the sun shone through. I immediately stopped, as the Holy
Spirit overpowered me, so much so that I doubled over and began crying. The
love of the Lord was pressed upon me, bringing me words to give to some of the
group members. It seemed that at every turn in the path where the sun
penetrated, the Spirit overcame me, giving me new insights and revelation. By
the time I reached the clearing, I felt so unworthy, and was so humbled that the
Lord would use me, that tears were constant as I wrote in my journal of the
things that were pressed upon my heart.

That night, I gave our devotions and said the words that the Lord would have me
say, and then I gave the tablet to Neil. As it turns out, there are at least two forms
of writing on the tablet: ancient Chinese Ideograms and Married Ogam. The
Chinese has been deciphered by archaeologists, and both Ideograms say
“Proclaim.” The married Ogam is going to take more time, as we have to have
three independent linguistics experts, epigraphers, decipher it into ancient
Hebrew. We have received a partial translation however. An expert who has
been translating the Ogam called Neil recently. Neil asked him what he had
deciphered so far and the expert said that the translations didn’t make sense to
him. Neil asked him to share what he had found anyway and the expert said that
it seemed to say “God absolve the sins of us, the twenty four.” Neil responded, “It
makes perfect sense to me. You’re on the right track.”
Since then, the tablet has been studied even further and more text was found.
The new transliteration has been finished and sent to the epigrapher, who was
excited to receive it and wanted a replica of the tablet to study closer. We hope to
have a finished translation by the middle of March.

A replica of the tablet, which we are now calling the Proclamation Tablet, is being
prepared to ship to Geneva, Switzerland. It will be in a museum on display for six
months, before going to Berlin, Germany for another six months.  Between both
museums, potentially hundreds of thousands will see the tablet and with it, all
the deciphered translations.

I am still amazed that the Holy Spirit compelled me to dig, with my bare hands,
under the cave we have been trying to get into for years, and under the very spot
I had chosen to sit for our prayers. I have no doubt that because of the way the
tablet was given to us, it is meant to be a gift to the world from God. With that
gift comes a message that I am to tell anyone who would listen. I am to tell the
church, and the world, that “It has started.” Specifically that the coming forth of
the plates and the establishment of Zion has started.

Section 140 of the Community of Christ’s Doctrine and Covenants says that
“Zionic conditions are no further away nor any closer than the spiritual
condition of My people justifies, but My word shall not fail, neither will My
promises, for the foundation of the Lord standeth sure.” He calls us to be a
better people, to be a beacon of light to the lost. If we don’t start living that now,
then when?

So, what were the last twenty four thinking in their final moments? They were
thinking as true disciples of Christ - not of retribution or justice, but of
repentance and forgiveness. On the sacred, holy mountain of the Lord, they
buried their last testimony, for us.