How has your life changed since being introduced to the Church?
- From the moment I was prepared to first feel God’s Spirit speaking to my Spirit to bear record of truth that Jesus Christ did in reality restore His Church in these latter days, nothing has been the same in me, though mortality continues down its meandering path. The power of the Holy Ghost and the gift of sanctification through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ is everything to me. Through this grace, I learn how to better love and serve others to become more like Savior. This causes every fiber of my being to desire daily improvement upon the prior version of myself I was yesterday. The spiritual gifts administered by Priesthood authority that are only available in the Lord’s authorized Church by way of sacred covenants fosters more transformation than any other power, authority, experience, or embellishment the world could ever offer humanity as an alternative. The comparison is analogous to night versus day, with the rays of sunshine in the daytime constituting a magnitude of transformation only possible through the fullness of the Priesthood, Gospel of Jesus Christ, and true and living Church of the Savior. But to know of a certainly, all genuine truth seekers must travel the same pathway by firsthand experience, personal immersion, and an acquired desire to pick up their cross, forsake the world, and follow the Savior as He has asked of countless people in all ages of the world. By losing my life with commitment to serve the Savior, He has shown the way to find myself. All that I ever hope to know of myself that I can be an instrument in the Lord’s hands has become an ever growing reality in His Church.
What have people around you thought about your joining the Church?
- Everyone that has known me recently and even those reacquainted from my past after I joined the Church have noted the stark differences in the person I once was compared to who I am today and hope to become in the future. They notice the sometimes dramatic shift in lifestyle, patterns, patience, compassion, charity, and other attributes that I don’t consciously think about so much as do my best to demonstrate. The veil of darkness and blindness that once covered my spiritual eyes has been lifted to help me know the difference between right and wrong with absolution, as well as greater strength to resist the evil and choose the good. While I have invited family members and friends to come and see the purity of truth and power of God I have witnessed by seeing firsthand for themselves, all have yet to venture that proposition. Nevertheless, I am grateful in my heart that the Lord has granted such conversations to take place. God shows by way of certainty that decisions I make to follow the Savior have impacted people’s lives in wonderful ways. Those I knew previously who initially thought the commitment to my new faith would result in another fleeting interest area of a wandering mind, now see immovable conviction and numerous positive life changes. Mistrust or perceived folly in my original decision has been replaced with respect for the blessings in plain view for all who knew me before to see. Time and living my faith changes people.
What were some of your hesitations about joining the Church?
- The biggest apprehension I experienced in joining the Church was worthiness to be baptized because of the past sins I had committed in a former state that was rapidly transcending into a new consciousness of existence as the Lord’s invitation plucked at the very core of my heartstrings. These witnesses were so strong and immediate in the time span since my initial introduction to the Church and first Missionary lessons that I relatively quickly and with utmost certainty come to know I had found the Lord’s true and living Church. As there is duality in all things and the most opposition follows the greatest truths, I was tempted to delay Baptism until I felt worthy by continuing to meet with the Missionaries and repent of my past sins. The same is true with whether or not I could follow the commandments taught by the Missionaries as my mind grappled with past traits of rebelliousness and a growing desire to be obedient because these were God’s laws and His Church, not mans. These struggles came to a crescendo while on vacation weeks before I was to be baptized in a decision to view a few of the many anti-Mormon web sites. This in combination with doubt expressed by close family members that this venture was not actually what I thought. In a moment after I decided the web sites were a waste of time because God showed me truth in personal ways I had never before experienced, I felt so said in my heart and worried with great anxiety that the unprecedented joy I was feeling would disappear with doubt. But, the Lord strengthened my resolve to follow through with angels and servants on earth to assist with helping my testimony to grow while the doubt receded from my thoughts.
Who has helped you through the process of joining the Church?
- My friend and new colleague at work helped me combat the opposition that was trying to stop me being baptized so I could rapidly gain understanding about exactly what it meant to make sacred covenants with God by Priesthood authority now again entrusted to man on the earth for the last time. Making the transition would have been far more difficult if not for this friend and the local congregation members who befriended me and showed kindness that I had found to be so rare a quality in my travels. Together, they answered my questions, alleviated concerns, and helped me embark on a new journey of spiritual enlightenment and transformation. From the seeds planted that grew to become a mighty change of heart, and forward into baptism and beyond, the Lord has sent many disciples to guide me in ways I could not do myself. I began to understand the patterns of good and evil influences in my life and how they worked through others. Slowly but surely with the help of loving people and the Holy Ghost, initial hurdles were overcome in the Lord’s way, plan, and time that I could understand with perfect clarity.
Describe your first visit to the temple.
- During my first visit to the Washington DC Temple with my new friend, I met a Sister Missionary from Ghana, Africa. She told me before I left after many hours of watching movies and looking at the attractions, if I prayed and asked Heavenly Father in the name of Jesus Christ whether these things were true, answers would come. It was that invitation that stayed in my mind until I began praying sincerely for the first time in my life a few weeks later. Fast forward until two days before I was to go through the Temple the first time over a year later, my friend and I decided to go down to the DC Temple visitor’s center to help my mind prepare. This very same Sister happened to be there and we shed tears after I told her my story. She mentioned that her family had disowned her for serving a mission, but because of her determination, they ended up investigating the Church while she was away and found the same truth she had witnessed. Many were now in the process of being baptized. This was a precursor to the indescribable joy I felt when going inside the Temple a few days later. The beauty and holiness of the Temple was yet another affirmation of the Lord’s divinity and very real involvement of concern and love with His Church and members. My heart was so full of joy that it changed me profoundly on that very day of my first attendance and every visit since.
What would you like others to know about the Church?
- Despite centuries of man-made contradiction, hypocrisy, violence, and many other negative realities of organized religion and Christianity, as well as how easy it is to doubt things not yet seen or known with enough measure of certainty, there is a promise of truth God has given to the world through His Son Jesus Christ. We are literal sons and daughters of our Father in Heaven who loves every one of us who lives today. God has given His only Begotten Son that we can know of absolute truth if such a desire is met with sincerity, humility, and an unfettered willingness to follow what He is prepared to give to us by spiritual means the world does not see or recognize. Not only does God live and love us, but in these latter days of the world, He has performed a marvelous and mighty work to restore that which was lost, that all things might be gathered in Christ who will return in the glory of His presence. There is great purpose in God’s plan for His children that is testified of in the Bible and the Book of Mormon for the reality of our day when the Priesthood authority exists again to organize and proliferate His Church upon the whole face of the earth that every precious soul has a chance to receive this glorious message. Despite the attempts by the spirit of persecution that has tried to convince people that such things are not true, nor is there a God, this work has rolled forward since the days of Joseph Smith to fill virtually every nation, kindred, and tongue. If you have ever wondered what ever happened to the patterns of the Bible or considered why we born only to die, these and many such questions do in fact have real answers. We can know the face of God if we are willing to put away the world long enough to receive Him. Who can hear this faithful saying and is willing to prove for themselves all truths?