Saturday, November 3, 2012

Joe's Baptism: A True Family Man

A few weeks ago,  my teaching companion and I were answering the chats that come in on and helping the people learn more about our beliefs. As we were taking chats, we talked with a guy named Joe. Joe came on and we briefly talked with him about some of the beliefs of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and he said that he agreed with everything that we said! From the very beginning it was apparent to me how much family means to Joe!

So we had a brief conversation with him, asked him to begin reading the Book of Mormon and also read something that our prophets came out with a few years ago called The Family: A Proclamation to the World and we set up a time to talk with him a few days later.

The time came for us to talk with him again and we went into the lesson thinking it would be the same as most other lessons that we teach. But when we started the lesson Joe told us about an amazing experience that he had. As he shared it with us we could tell the strong faith in God that Joe had and his desire to find the truth. Because of that, he was able to have a very powerful experience and quickly came to know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God!

Joe's story is one of many the shows that the promise Moroni gives at the end of the Book of Mormon really is true. Through experience, Joe came to experience for himself the invitation and promise that "when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost."

That is what Joe did and that is what we can all do to find out that the Book of Mormon is true! Here is his  own story:

My conversion story starts several weeks ago. I was perusing on online news aggregation website called Someone had posted a link to a YouTube video about Mitt Romney. The video was very disparaging of both the LDS Church and the presidential candidate. However, from personal experience, I knew that the accusations the video was making were very wrong.

The reason why I did not believe the video was due to spending a year on assignment for work in Pocatello Idaho in 1999 and early 2000. Most of the people in that small town were Mormons. As a group, they were the nicest, most moral, hard working, and ethical people that I ever did meet. This phenomenon wasn’t just for the majority, or a significant fraction. It was to a man, and woman. Additionally, many of my co-workers were Mormons. Often, they would invite met to ice cream socials and they seemed to eat lots of green Jell-O.

After I finished watching the YouTube video, I watched another and another. I continued watching videos about the Church and Mormons throughout the evening. Some were pro-Mormon. Some were anti-Mormon. Some were indifferent. However, I was fascinated.

The next day at work, I found that I could not stop thinking about the night before. All during the day, whenever I had a free moment, I would read, watch videos, or look up various topics. Additionally, I spent the entire evening watching videos online and reading as much as I could about the LDS faith.

This continued for a couple of weeks. I was obsessed with learning all that I could. Much of the material online was positive. However, a significant amount of it was negative. Upon further inspection, most the negative material was an exaggeration, a fabrication, a misrepresentation, or just plain incorrect.

One Wednesday, late in the evening, I was looking up topics, watching videos, and cross checking what I was finding. I must have had several browser windows open with a hundred tabs open. I closed everything and clear my desktop until it was completely empty. Then I opened a single browser window and navigated to YouTube. My search term was “are Mormons Christian?” One of the results at the top of the list was a segment of a talk given by Jeffrey R. Holland.

Elder Holland’s talk focused on this very topic. I felt that this was a message meant just for me. He mentioned that while there may be a great deal of debate, there was one thing, of which there should be no doubt. That was we (Mormons) believe in Jesus Christ. Just as importantly, he then spent several minutes describing exactly what that meant. At the end of the video, I exclaimed, “Yes!”

The next day was a Thursday. During lunch, while at work, I visited Right on the front page was a link to “chat with us”. I clicked the link and a new window popped open. In came Elder Ryan and Elder Jacob into the chat room. We talked for about 45 minutes. At the end I asked if there were any books I should buy on Amazon. They said, “No.” Instead, they gave me a link to Family: A Proclamation. Additionally, they asked me to read the Book of Mormon.

When we were done chatting, I read Family: A Proclamation. I remember think that I agreed with all of it. I also wondered why more people don’t say this sort of thing. It seems to be especially needed in these times.

That evening, I found the Book of Mormon online. It became quickly apparent that finishing it in a day and a half was going to be impossible. This was Thursday evening and my next meeting with the online missionaries was going to be Saturday morning. Fortunately, I realized that there was a chapter summary at the beginning of each chapter. I read all of the chapter summaries that night. Additionally, anytime I came across anything really interesting, I would scroll to the text of the scripture and read.

I remember reading that a person was supposed to pray for an answer to the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon after reading it. That night I earnestly prayed. I distinctly remember not being very good at it. Afterwards, I went to bed.

During the weeks prior to that Thursday night, I had been having trouble sleeping. This was because my investigations had caused me to ask many difficult questions about myself. That night, after reading the Book of Mormon and praying earnestly for an answer, I had a wonderful night’s sleep.

When I awoke on Friday, I felt an amazing peace and joy in my heart. Additionally, in my mind’s eye I saw the words “The Word of God is the Word of God”. This was a message that was meant just for me. Experiences like this had never occurred before and I know that it is something I should pay attention to. At that very moment, I had a testimony that the Book of Mormon was true. Since the Book of Mormon was true, then Joseph Smith had to be a prophet and the Church really was restored to the earth. Like dominoes falling, I immediately received a testimony for many of the things I read about.

The only thing I felt a little shaky on was if President Monson was really a prophet that spoke for God. However, during General Conference I received a testimony that he is indeed a prophet. This occurred when I listened to him speak and after praying about it.

I write all of this in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

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