Suddenly there’s a dozen LDS girls she hardly knows at her bedroom door, and they’re giving her plates of cookies and smiling big, toothy grins.
“Why don’t you come to our church Sunday?” someone asks and they all nod and smile some more.
She grins back and wonders when they’ll leave.
But they don’t. They talk and laugh and eventually she realizes they’re not so obnoxious. She starts to catch their enthusiasm. And she begins to wonder if this is what it’s like to be LDS? Is it always fun? Her father was LDS once. She’d heard things about the Church, but …
DarLynn Hawkins, 14, is sitting on the couch between Amy Van Camp and Erica Egli, both 14. This is Amy’s house, north of Chicago, in a town called Gurnee. And as the girls explain, Gurnee is a quiet place, famous for only two things—its immense factory outlet stores, and its spectacular junior high school band (which, as a matter of fact, the girls all play in).
DarLynn’s a Church member now. And that all began one evening about a year and a half ago when Amy and Erica convinced their Beehive class to crowd into DarLynn’s room. It started then; it just didn’t start perfectly.
“It was really weird,” says DarLynn. “We’d just moved here and I didn’t really know anyone, and all of a sudden here were all these girls asking me to come to church. I mean I knew Amy and Erica from school band …”
“But we didn’t like each other,” Erica adds. They all laugh.
“No, we weren’t best friends or anything,” says DarLynn. “I thought they were snobs.” They laugh again. “Just kidding, but I did think I was being rushed 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 was a member once. Erica and I just got the feeling she might need the Church in her life. The standards of the Church are so high that it helps you through the tough times.”
Slowing the Tempo
When Erica and Amy sensed 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 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’d like to have missionaries visit her home.
Erica says it wasn’t that 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, it would hurt us because it means so much to us. I was afraid she would laugh at the lessons or think they were soooo boring.”
But DarLynn said yes. “And everything the missionaries said was so interesting. They really got through to me and made it fun. There was a time in every discussion where 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 just knew the Church was true.”
DarLynn’s parents had watched her careful study of Church teachings, and 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 many make—going to places or doing things you know are wrong with the idea you will have your friend come to a Church activity next time.
Not too bright, says DarLynn. “When I was in the sixth grade, I wanted to try everything—smoking, drinking, everything. Then I got to know Amy and Erica, and 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.”
A Great Finale
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 helped her find the truth,” Erica continues. “You could see how happy she was. After she had changed 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.
How to Talk to a Friend about the Church
Perhaps there’s someone in your class or on your team who you think might be interested in the gospel. But how do you bring up the topic of religion without being laughed at?
Unfortunately there’s no magic formula that will allow you to talk to friends about the Church without embarrassment. The fact is, some people will not understand why you feel strongly about the gospel. But then again, you may just find a person who is anxious to hear what you have to say.
Here are some simple things to try:
Remember you don’t have to do it alone. It may be easier to invite a friend to an activity if you have another LDS friend with you.
Be a real friend first. If you’re not very close to the person, try striking up a friendship. When you feel the time is right, you may begin by talking briefly about your beliefs.
Don’t push too fast. Realize that it will take time to interest someone in the church, and it may never happen. But while they may not join the church, chances are good they will remember your example.
Before you do anything, pray about it. You’ll need the Lord’s help, and so will your friend.
Don’t abandon them as a friend if they tell you they’re not interested. Remember, they’re still good people.