I could see the young deacons losing interest as my mission companion talked. He was explaining the importance of doing missionary work with their friends.
One young man finally spoke up, “What can I do? I’m only thirteen. My friends aren’t interested in the Church. And even if they were, their parents wouldn’t let them be baptized.”
My companion kept talking with the young men, but my mind went back to when I was about twelve years old.
I had a best friend, Chris. We did everything together. But whenever a group of us would gather to do something mischievous, as boys sometimes do, Chris would refuse to take part. He said his parents would be mad if they found out.
Then one day I talked Chris into stealing tennis balls from some men playing tennis on the local courts. He followed me, even helped me gather a handful of balls, and then ran with me through the hole in the fence. When we arrived at my house, I noticed that Chris’s face was white.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“We’ve got to take these balls back,” he blurted out.
“No way. They’re ours now,” I replied. But Chris grabbed them and started to run. I had always been faster than Chris, but I couldn’t catch him that day. He ran right to the tennis players and gave every ball back. He said he was sorry and then did something I’d never seen before. He asked them for forgiveness. I just knew the men would call the police, but they let him go.
When we got home, I had a few questions for my best friend.
“I’m a Mormon,” he said.
“I know. You told me.”
“But I didn’t tell you how important my church is to me.” He went on to explain the standards of honesty he had been taught and how he could not feel right about stealing.
Six weeks later, I found myself in a font, ready to be baptized a Latter-day Saint.
Suddenly my attention returned to the deacons in front of me. I don’t know if it made much difference to those boys, but I told them how a young man their age had brought me into the Church. I told them they could and should do missionary work. They could teach with their example, just as Chris had done.