Suddenly there are a dozen girls DarLynn Hawkins hardly knows at her bedroom door. They are all Latter-day Saints, they are all about her own age, and they are giving her big smiles and plates of cookies.
“Why don’t you come to our church next Sunday?” one of them asks, and they all nod and smile some more.
DarLynn smiles back and wonders when these girls will leave.
But they don’t leave. They talk and laugh, and eventually DarLynn begins to feel their enthusiasm. And she begins to wonder if this is what it’s like to be a Latter-day Saint. Is it always fun? Her father was LDS once. She had heard things about the Church, but …
That was about a year and a half ago. Now DarLynn Hawkins, 14, is a member of the Church. She and two of her best friends, Amy Van Camp and Erica Egli, both 14, are sitting on the couch in Amy’s house in Gurnee, Illinois, remembering the events that led to DarLynn’s baptism.
“We had just moved here,” says DarLynn, “and I didn’t really know anyone. All of a sudden here were all these girls asking me to come to their church. I knew who Amy and Erica were, because we’re in the school band together …”
“But we didn’t really like each other,” Erica adds with a grin. All three girls laugh.
“No, we weren’t best friends or anything,” says DarLynn. “And I did think I was being rushed into the Church at first.”
Amy admits that maybe they were pushy. But, as she points out, there are no instructions to follow when you want to talk to a friend about the Church. And every now and then, you make a mistake. “We’d heard her father had been a member of the Church at one time. Erica and I just got the feeling DarLynn might need the Church in her life. The standards of the Church are so high, and they can help you through the tough times.”
When Erica and Amy sensed that DarLynn was uneasy, they slowed things down. They became closer friends with her during a school band trip, gave her a copy of the Book of Mormon (she read parts of it during the summer), and invited her to Church activities (which made her more comfortable with the other members). Eventually, Amy and Erica gained the courage to ask DarLynn if she would like to have missionaries visit her home.
Erica says it wasn’t easy getting up the nerve to ask DarLynn such an important question. “You have to conquer the fear. We were afraid that if she didn’t accept, it would hurt us because the Church means so much to us. I was afraid she would laugh at the lessons or think they were boring.”
But DarLynn said yes. “And everything the missionaries said was so interesting,” she says. “They really got through to me and made it fun. There was a time in every discussion when I’d almost cry. Then during one discussion the missionaries asked me to read, ponder, and pray. I did that night, and the Spirit was there. It was so cool. I started to cry, and I knew the Church was true.”
DarLynn’s parents had watched her carefully study the teachings of the Church. When she asked for their permission to be baptized, they were happy to give it.
While there are no rules to follow when talking to a friend about the Church, there is one common mistake some people make—going to places or doing things you know are wrong with your friend, with the idea that you will take that friend to a Church activity next time.
That’s not too bright, says DarLynn. “When I was younger, I wanted to try everything—smoking, drinking, everything. Then I got to know Amy and Erica. They were strong in the Church, and I thought that was really cool. It made me want what they had. We wouldn’t be as close now if they had followed me and had done the things I wanted to do back then.”
And if Erica and Amy had not been examples to DarLynn, they would have missed a great ending. Erica says, “I’ll never forget …” and Amy joins in, “DarLynn’s baptism!”
“It was the best feeling as we watched DarLynn being baptized, because we had helped her find the truth,” Erica continues. “You could see how happy she was. After she changed into dry clothes, she came out and said, ‘I’m perfect, and you’re not!’”
“I was kidding,” says DarLynn.
They all laugh again—a trio in perfect harmony.
Perhaps you know someone who might be interested in the gospel. How do you bring up the topic of religion without being laughed at? Here are some simple things to try:
Before you do anything, pray about introducing your friend to the gospel. You’ll need the Lord’s help, and so will your friend.
Be a real friend first. If you’re not very close to the person, try becoming better friends. When you feel the time is right, you might begin by talking briefly about your beliefs.
Remember, you don’t have to do missionary work alone. It may be easier to invite a friend to an activity if you have another Latter-day Saint friend with you.
Don’t push too fast. Realize that it may take time to interest someone in the Church.
Don’t abandon your friend if he or she is not interested. Your friend may never join the Church, but he or she may remember your example.
Stay close, too, if your friend does join the Church. It is important to continue the love and friendship that helped spark interest in the Church in the first place.