Finding Faith in Jesus Christ
In Jeremiah 29:11-13 we read these words:
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.
On March 10, just a a few short days from now, I will celebrate eleven years as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I actually began investigating the Church in late 1980. I had seen several television commercials about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and each one normally ended with how one could obtain a free copy of the Book of Mormon.
I have always had a love for books and was always on the watch for any new book of interest that I might be able to add to my small library. Having no knowledge of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and having never heard of or seen a copy of the Book of Mormon, I thought that this might be an interesting addition to my library, and besides it was at the right price–free! What I later found out is that the commercials failed to mention one minor detail. Nothing that I can recall was ever mentioned about the fact that two young men, riding bicycles, dressed in suits would personally deliver the free Book of Mormon. I later learned that these young men were missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The day the missionaries arrived at my parents’ home where I was then living, I invited them in and had a brief conversation with them. I found that some of what they had to say was of some interest to me. I invited them to return again in a few days when I had more time to sit and talk with them and continue with our conversation. Time went on and after having met with the Mormon elders or missionaries for about 5 months, I decided to leave home and join the United States Navy in March 1981. I thanked the missionaries for taking the time to visit me and teach me about what The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believes and teaches, and promised that I would continue to investigate the Church and its teachings at a later time. At that time, I had only read a few passages from the Book of Mormon and though I had found what I read to be of great interest, I placed the book on the shelf in my library thinking that it would make a good reference book. I thought that perhaps I would return to read its pages some day.
Moving forward now in time, I found myself in San Diego, California where I attended basic training, my first “A” school in electronics, and was eventually assigned to my first ship, the U.S.S. Jouett CG 29. One day while on liberty from the ship, I came across a small bookstore. Being a lover of books, I decided to go in and take a look around to see if I might find anything of interest. I did not realize at first that it was an LDS bookstore, but it didn’t take long to figure out. I distinctly remember on that visit I purchased several things to include another copy of the Book of Mormon and a set of conference tapes. I would love to tell you that I went back to the ship and spent time listening to the conference messages and reading the Book of Mormon, but that is not the case. In fact, I tucked the tapes and the Book of Mormon neatly away thinking that I would get back to those some day.
In addition to the conference tapes and the Book of Mormon, I bought several other books. The title of one of the books particularly caught my attention that day for whatever reason. The title of the book is “In The Lord’s Due Time.” I still have that book in my personal library. I did not at that time stop to notice who the book was written by or even what the book was about. I would later come to realize that the book was written by a Black Brother of the Church by the name of Joseph Freeman. Brother Joseph Freeman was the first Black to receive the Priesthood following the 1978 Revelation. I thought that was interesting and wondered what was meant by receiving the Priesthood and what exactly a revelation is. Like the other materials that I purchased that day, I put the book away intending to further research the matter at a later time.
As years went on, I decided to begin studying for the ministry. The Baptist church that I was attending while stationed in Norfolk Virginia had its own Bible College, so I enrolled and began preparing to one day become a Baptist minister. During my course of studies I heard, read, and learned many negative things about the Mormon Church and why one should not join it. I became very well acquainted with anti-Mormon materials through media resources such as video tapes, cassette tapes, newspapers, magazines and the like. For a time, I even communicated through letters with people who had at one time been members of the Church and for one reason or another had left the Church. Though I will admit that some of the negativity sounded interesting, I could not believe that the Mormon Church was as bad as some folks where proclaiming it to be. I reflected upon the things that the missionaries and I had discussed in earlier years and came to the conclusion that there had to be more to the story and that there had to be some evidence of truth in what the missionaries had taught me. In short, I determined in my mind that I would seek after the truth and ignore all of the negativity.
Let us move forward in time once again. The year is now 1997, and I found myself stationed at a NATO command in Keflavik Iceland. One day, as I was surfing the Internet in my room, I decided to do a search on the Mormon Church out of curiosity just to see what I might find. I found a link for the Church News and decided to check it out. I later found an email address and decided to send an email to the newspaper inquiring as to the cost of sending a subscription to the newspaper to an overseas location. I received an email back from one of the editors of the newspaper at that time whose name was Doug Osborn. In his email he inquired as to what I was doing in Iceland and what my interest was in the Mormon Church. I sent an email back stating that I was serving in the United States Navy and that I was merely interested in reading about what was going on in the Mormon Church at that time. He emailed me in response and said that he thought that was interesting, and then he added, “Please do not be upset with me, and I hope you do not mind, but I have contacted the local missionaries in your area and have asked them to contact you”.
Partially thinking that I was on a secure NATO base and that the chances of the missionaries being able to locate me was slim to none, I wrote back stating that would be fine. A few days later my telephone rang. I answered the phone and who do you suppose was on the other end of the line? You guessed it, a missionary from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. My first question was regarding how he obtained my telephone number. He replied that it was really quite easy, “I just called the operator and she gave it to me.” My thoughts were, “Well so much for security!” I gave them my address and invited them over.
To make a long story short, I met with several groups of missionaries over the course of about a year. We had many wonderful conversations and discussions about The Bible and the Book of Mormon. At times they were asking me where I found certain xcriptures and would make notes of them. At other times they would call me and tell me that they found another investigator that was also Baptist; they asked how I would handle answering certain questions that their investigator had. It became a great teaching and learning experience for each of us.
Finally, in January 1998, I told the missionaries that I appreciated everything that they had taught me and that I would not make a final decision about being baptized until after I had read the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price in their entirety. I believe that the Lord had a hand in that as well as I believe that I was inspired to develop a 40-day reading schedule to complete all of the reading. For the very first time, a little over 17 years after my initial investigation of the Church, and for 40 consecutive days prior to my baptism, I read the Book of Mormon in its entirety, followed by the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price each in their entirety.
Having completed all of the reading, I returned to Moroni’s promise as recorded in the Book of Mormon in Moroni 10: 3-5:
Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts. And 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. And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.
After reading those words I knelt beside my bed and asked the Lord to let me know if these things were indeed true. I received my answer, called the missionaries and on the evening of Tuesday, March 10, 1998, I was baptized and became a member of the Lord’s true Church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The rest, as they say, is history with all things being fulfilled and accomplished according to the Lord’s plans and in His due time.
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