Shane Aldous steps to the front of his karate class.
“Taegeuk Seven Jang,” he shouts and begins leading students through a complex series of movements called a kata. The movements are liquid, light on water, motion flowing into motion. Shane Aldous, stocky and strong, drops down into a low stance. His hands move into position, palms up, fingers together. His eyes wide, alert, he steps into another low stance. The transition is smooth and fast. Then with practiced precision, a hand moves in a graceful circle, stops, pulls in, and punches upward. A fast high kick follows.
A karate class might seem an unlikely place for missionary work, but for Shane Aldous, 15, and his family, members of the Manassas Virginia Ward, almost any place can present an opportunity.
“Two years ago I was the biggest guy in my class,” Shane explains. “All of the tough guys wanted to fight me. But I didn’t like fighting. My mother saw an ad in the paper for karate classes and asked if I wanted to take lessons.”
Chol H. Kim, the instructor of the class, teaches TaeKwon Do, a Korean style of karate, which emphasizes both physical and mental discipline. “In TaeKwon Do character development is as important as physical development. It’s a school rule,” Shane says, “to show respect to your teachers and your parents.”
Shane’s parents and his brother Brad, 14, were so impressed with what Master Kim was teaching that they also signed up for his classes. “We do things as a family whenever we can,” Shane says.
Because they worked together and could help each other learn, the Aldous family progressed rapidly.
Brad and Shane began entering karate tournaments, and at the National Junior Olympics they took top honors in their divisions. Shane brought home a silver medal in sparring, and Brad won a gold in form and a gold in sparring.
From the time the Aldous family enrolled in his school, Master Kim had been watching them closely. There was something about them that made them stand out from other people. “I was impressed by the support they gave each other,” he says. “And by the emphasis they put on family and personal growth.”
Eventually the Aldous family invited Master Kim to church. He began taking the missionary lessons and was baptized.
Not long after he was baptized, one of his students, Gloria Lee, 19, was also baptized.
“I thought Master Kim was making a terrible mistake,” she says. “I’d heard some bad things about the Mormons. I didn’t want him to fall into a false religion and ruin his whole life. I decided to do something about it, so I confronted him and some other members of the Church. But I had a lot of questions about my own religion, and everything they told me about Mormonism made sense. I couldn’t deny it. I started taking discussions from the missionaries, and instead of saving Master Kim from the terrible religion, I ended up being baptized myself. I am pretty lucky. My family belongs to another church, and they worry about me the way I worried about Master Kim. It’s not easy, but I’ve never regretted joining. The Church is true. The Aldous family has always been a good example for me. Without them I would not have found the Church.”
According to Shane, working together as a family and living and knowing gospel principles are important keys to being successful missionaries. “You never know when people are watching you,” he says. “Or when they are going to become interested and start asking questions.”