One of the greatest miracles of life happens when a person receives a testimony of Jesus Christ and experiences the process of conversion. Merriam-Webster dictionary defines conversion as definitive or decisive adoption of religion or beliefs. Elder David A. Bednar, a modern apostle and general authority of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (more commonly known as the Mormons), gives a profound definition of true conversion in relation to gaining a testimony:
True conversion brings a change in one’s beliefs, heart, and life to accept and conform to the will of God, and includes a conscious commitment to become a disciple of Christ.
Conversion is an enlarging, a deepening, and a broadening of the undergirding base of testimony. It is the result of revelation from God, accompanied by individual repentance, obedience, and diligence.
Conversion is an offering of self, of love, and of loyalty we give to God in gratitude for the gift of testimony.
Examples of True Conversion in the Scriptures
The scriptures contain many examples of true conversion. Peter, after his infamous denial of his Master, made a complete turnaround and spent the rest of his life serving the Lord. His boldness in preaching the Word of God resulted in the conversion of thousands of souls who gladly received his word, were baptized, and “continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrines and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.” (See Acts 2:37-42.)
Paul’s journey to conversion started on the road to Damascus where he experienced a blinding vision of the Savior (Acts 9:1-8). Like Peter and the rest of the apostles, he sacrificed his name, earthly status, and his whole life for the furtherance of the Word of God.
In the Book of Mormon, true conversion is evident in the lives of a certain group of people known as the Anti-Nephi-Lehies who, as soon as they were brought to the knowledge of the truth, laid down the weapons of their rebellion and covenanted to not fight against God anymore. And as many of them as were brought to the knowledge of the truth… and “were converted unto the Lord, never did fall away.” (See Alma 23:6–8.)
A Story of True Conversion
Alma, a Book of Mormon prophet, explained that true conversion is accompanied by a “mighty change of heart” in order to endure and bring forth fruit of good works.
Florentino Quebrar, his wife Amparo, and their nine children met the missionaries and joined the Church in the late 1980s. They were the first Later-day Saints in a remote barangay (Filipino term for a village, the smallest administrative division in the Philippines) roughly eight kilometers from the town where the nearest Mormon meetinghouse was located. Travel to town normally took 30 to 45 minutes on a motorized tricycle or jeepney along a bumpy, dusty dirt road. Transportation was also limited that if you missed a ride, you would have to wait around 30 minutes to one hour for the next one.
As is usually the case with new members, and pioneers, joining the Church was not always easy for the Quebrar family. For one, they had to represent the Church and its teachings in a predominantly, and sometimes mocking, Catholic community, and deal with the challenges that go with leaving the faith they had long embraced and cherished. They had to give up coffee, tea and other substances to obey the Word of Wisdom. Additionally, they had to discontinue traditions that did not conform to the teachings of the Church.
Attending Church every Sunday was also challenging as the family struggled financially. With not having enough money to cover the fare of eleven members of the family, the mother and three daughters would ride to town while the father and six sons took the early morning walk along the eight-kilometer dusty dirt road in order to get to Church before the sacrament started. They believed there was never enough reason to be late for the Lord’s Supper. After Church, they would do the same thing going home: the women took a jeepney or tricycle and the men hiked the same dusty road for two hours under the scorching heat of the midday sun (or rain and mire during the rainy days).
Soon blessings both temporal and spiritual started to pour in. Brother Quebrar was called and sustained as Branch President of their unit, Tigbauan Branch, Iloilo-Philippines Stake. He served faithfully with his wife beside him all through his service. Their faithfulness in the gospel was rewarded with a legacy which has greatly blessed the generations that followed. Of their nine children, seven served full-time missions, and all married in the temple.
Brother Quebrar’s life was an example of true conversion to Christ. Until the day he died, he remained true to his covenants. His example has been an inspiration to his children and grandchildren, and has influenced other people outside the Church. I am one of those who have been blessed with the blessings of the gospel through his family. Having served a full-time mission myself and received the ordinance of temple marriage, I have seen the example of how one true convert to Christ can bless the lives of many generations. Now serving as a bishop, I am continuously working to deepen my own conversion to the gospel and build a legacy my children can look to and be proud of.