As Calyann Barnett started to read the Book of Mormon, she filled the back pages of her copy with evidence that it wasn’t true. This continued until one day when she felt a voice that would lead her to a life-changing decision. That voice told her: “You can either believe or you can continue to be a skeptic.”
A new video from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints shares Barnett’s story. Barnett works as a celebrity stylist for athletes. One day when attending a retreat with her client NBA All-Star Dwyane Wade, she noticed a colleague who wasn’t drinking. When Barnett asked her colleague Clarke Miyasaki (Chief Growth Officer for Stance Socks), why he abstained, he explained a little bit about his faith.
Though Barnett found Miyasaki’s lifestyle interesting, it wasn’t until she later had an experience while stranded in the Athens, Greece, airport that she felt strongly that she needed to change her life. She stopped drinking and then, a few months later, she asked Miyasaki more about his faith. Miyasaki shared the story of the Book of Mormon, and Barnett’s response wasn’t exactly what he expected.
“She looks at me and says, ‘That is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.’ I was like, ‘Well, that didn’t go quite as I planned,’” Miyasaki said in the video.
Barnett was so intrigued that a practical person like Miyasaki would believe in the story of the gold plates, so she decided she would prove him wrong by reading the Book of Mormon.
As she started reading, she’d text her questions to Miyasaki. One of her biggest concerns was that some the book’s text struck her as racist.
“The whole back of my book . . . refers to ‘the curse of blackness’ and ‘their skin became white,’” Barnett said. “And so I was arguing with him, I’m like, ‘How can there be this religion and its like faith in God, but yet there’s so much text in it that just feels like you’re alienating a whole group of people?’ This is—for me, as a Black person—you’re telling me that I’m cursed.”
But then she kept reading and came across 2 Nephi 26:33: “He inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.”
“That moment right there was like an ‘aha moment.’ . . . God loves everybody—no matter who you are, no matter what you are, no matter what you’ve done—God loves everybody,” Barnett said.
She kept reading and felt a voice tell her she had a decision, “You can either believe or you can continue to be a skeptic.” Through the Book of Mormon, she received a witness that “Jesus is real,” and decided to believe and was eventually baptized.
Barnett ends the video with an invitation to others to read the Book of Mormon.
“Just pick up a few chapters,” she said. “Just start reading, and I’m pretty sure that there will be something that will speak to you, that will help reaffirm, help confirm, that this is true. And God loves you. He’s here for you. Just believe and see what happens.”
Watch the video on YouTube.
Editor's note: This article originally ran on LDS Living in March 2021.