The words God, Heavenly Father, and Jesus Christ were almost never mentioned in my home when I was growing up. My father didn’t really believe in God, and my mother didn’t attend the Christian church in which she had been baptized. When I was six, I wanted to go to church, but my parents decided not to allow me. To remedy my disappointment, I decided to hold my own church services on Sundays.
My knowledge of church and prayer was limited to what I knew from television and stories my friends had told me. The first thing I thought I needed was a Bible. I knew the Bible was a large book with a lot of important words and stories in it. We didn’t have a Bible, so I used the thing we had that fit the description best—the Encyclopaedia Britannica Junior. My congregation consisted of my stuffed animals and dolls. However, my church eventually dissolved, as reading from an encyclopedia can be very frustrating for a six-year-old. Though my church was over, my prayers to God continued.
When I was 13, my mother decided to return to her church. I went with her every Sunday for several months and soon joined the church’s youth group. I loved many things about this church, but I always felt like there was something missing. I continued to go until one day at a youth activity the other youth found out I was not a member of the church. The teenagers in the group began shunning me, and I eventually stopped going to church altogether.
Later, in high school, I took a comparative religions course. I learned a lot about many religions and realized there are a lot of good people with the best of intentions. But no religion ever seemed quite right.
I had convinced myself that no church was right and decided to live by my conscience, read the Bible (by this time I had bought my own), and do my best to live in accordance with the teachings of Jesus Christ. After all, no one in my family went to church, and they were all honest, good people.
In May of 2000, after seeing a movie about the life of Jesus Christ, I was so deeply touched that I earnestly prayed to God. I knew if I was patient, while continuing to do my best to follow Christ, I would receive answers to my prayers. I faced many tests in the months that followed. Through these tests, I became better at receiving the Spirit’s promptings.
Later that year I felt I should go to the visitors’ center at the Washington D.C. Temple to see the Christmas lights. I had been to the visitors’ center to see the lights before but had never inquired about the Church or its beliefs.
As I strolled through the visitors’ center, looking at the many displays, I thought of my cousin and another friend who were planning to serve missions for this church. I had studied about many religions but never this one. I was a little curious.
In my head I asked, expecting no answer, “Why in the world would those two men, or anyone for that matter, give up two years to serve missions—and at their own expense?” Much to my surprise, I received a humbling response. The soft whispers of the Spirit pierced my heart as my eyes fell upon a replica of gold plates. I was drawn to them. As I looked at them, I felt a powerful feeling of love, safety, and comfort, and in my mind I heard the words, “These are important. Learn about them.”
The next day I went to the library to read all I could about the plates and the Church. I bought a copy of the Book of Mormon from a used-book store and began reading. I also read about the Church, but I wanted to learn more, so I decided to attend a church meeting.
I knew if I studied and prayed, God would confirm to me that this is the right church. So that’s what I did. I watched and waited patiently. And sure enough, my prayers were answered. On March 25, 2001, I was baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
This is the Church of Jesus Christ. There are many good churches with many good people, but The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the church of our Lord and Savior, and it is the church with which our Heavenly Father is well pleased (see D&C 1:30). Our Heavenly Father loves us, has a plan for us, and will guide us back to Him if we earnestly seek Him.