26984_000_009Artur Tomaszewski had asked God to show him the truth. But he struggled with the answer he received.
Artur Tomaszewski could defend himself if the need arose. After all, he was the national jujitsu champion in his native Poland at age 17. But he believes the wisest course is always to seek peace first. That is what he was doing, in a way, when he won his greatest battle—the struggle to find truth.
As a young boy, Artur had studied the Bible and formed questions about his relationship to God and about God’s true Church. No one had answers to satisfy him. Finally, he prayed to God to show him which church was true.
Does this story sound familiar?
Both the answer Artur received and the way it came surprised him.
As a youth, he says, “I liked to study about different religions.” His study convinced him that the Church of Jesus Christ ought to be on the earth. Yet he could not find one that seemed to meet biblical criteria. He was even tempted at one point to wonder if God really existed, but the faith that lived inside him overcame that doubt. He knew that if anyone could provide answers, it would be God. There came a time when he was 18 that Artur prayed, specifically asking to be led to the true Church.
Not long afterward, while he was visiting at the home of his aunt, he saw a dusty book sitting on a shelf. It was titled the Book of Mormon. His aunt had received it from some sister missionaries, then had laid it aside and forgotten it.
Artur picked it up and put it back down three times, struggling over whether to read it. No, he would not; he believed only in the Bible. But this book said it was another testament of Jesus Christ. No, this Joseph Smith story at the beginning was too fantastic. But what if it was true? No, the story in the first 20 pages of the book was simply foreign to all he knew.
Still, what he had read stayed with him all week long. When he returned to his aunt’s house, planning to resume reading where he had left off, the book was gone!
It would be some time before Artur received his own copy of the Book of Mormon.
He introduced himself to missionaries on the street in Katowice. When they did not call him immediately as promised (this is a mistake Elder Tomaszewski the missionary does not make now), he decided to seek them out on a Sunday morning at the meetinghouse address on a flyer they had given him.
It happened to be a fast Sunday, and as members bore their testimonies, Artur felt the same feeling of peace and surety that had stayed with him after his first reading in the Book of Mormon. The feeling was so strong that he wanted to stand and bear his own testimony that the book was true, but he did not know if this would be permitted.
When the missionaries finally gave him his own copy of the Book of Mormon, they asked him solemnly if he would promise to read it and pray for an answer about its truthfulness. Artur laughed. He already knew he could get an answer from God.
He read and he prayed. The answer that came was so strong it seemed to be not only a feeling, but also “like light to my eyes,” giving great clarity to the truths he already knew from the Bible. He laughed out loud once more, wondering if the answer about the Church of Jesus Christ could really be this “clear and simple.” He had thought it might be some complicated thing. He prayed again to be sure and received the same strong answer, assuring him that God’s truths are plain, not complicated.
“When I found out it was true, I went home full of joy,” he recalls. But no one wanted to share the joy. His mother and two younger brothers were not interested. His father was antagonistic. After Artur’s baptism in 2002, he had almost no support from friends and acquaintances either, except within his branch.
Religious tradition is very strong in Poland. No one could understand why he wanted to leave the dominant faith. Still, he says, his parents’ teaching and example were very valuable in preparing him to find the truth. “I’m grateful they did what they knew how to do in teaching me.”
Being alone in living the gospel did not break down his faith. When he determined to serve a mission, he was willing to give up the jujitsu practices and competitions he loved—something that had been part of his life from childhood—to work and save money for a mission. Jujitsu, he says, was an art form for him. “I felt like a painter painting a picture when I practiced.” But working left him no time to practice.
Before leaving his hometown of Mystowice to serve as a missionary, Elder Tomaszewski left a challenge for his younger brother Patryk, who was also deeply involved in jujitsu. “If you want to find out why I’m doing this, why I’m giving up my sport, read the Book of Mormon and pray about it.”
Elder Tomaszewski says some of the qualities developed through the discipline of jujitsu have been helpful in the mission field: patience, humility, and the capacity for hard work.
What does he like most about missionary work?
“Often when I’m really tired, when I feel like I don’t have any strength left and maybe I’m lacking a little in faith, we knock on a door and find someone,” he says. Finding someone who wants to listen sometimes makes him so excited he can’t sleep.
And what has been his best day as a missionary?
The day he learned that his younger brother had taken his challenge to read and pray about the Book of Mormon. Patryk Tomaszewski also received a testimony. He was baptized in August 2004.
Now there are two Tomaszewskis to share the joy of the gospel.