Family Included

    “Family Included,” New Era, June 2012, 38–40

    Family Included

    smiling youth

    Photograph by Richard M. Romney

    When you “invite all to come unto Christ,” remember to invite your family.

    You could say 17-year-old Chris S. of Florida danced his way into the Church, but that’s not totally correct. Actually, it was the people he danced with who introduced him to the gospel. Chris is part of a troupe that performs Panamanian folk dances, and two of his best friends, Rebecca and Joshua R., who are also in the group, invited him to come to church.

    The Invitation

    “One time we started talking about the Church, and I just told him more about it, and he seemed really interested,” Rebecca says. “I told my parents about it, and they said we should invite him to church.” So one day they invited Chris to come, and he accepted.

    “I asked my parents, and they said I could go,” Chris remembers. He also remembers how well received he was. “I was kind of nervous. But once I came, everyone was so warm and welcoming. It was nice to be there, and I felt comfortable.”

    Soon Chris began meeting with the missionaries. “When they came over, they taught me a lesson and gave me a Book of Mormon,” he says. “They told me to read and pray, and I did. I didn’t feel anything at first, but then later on as I prayed, I felt great because it was like something inside of me was really warm. I know that was the Spirit, and it was a great feeling.”

    Chris continued learning and decided to be baptized. “After being baptized, I received the Holy Ghost, received the Aaronic Priesthood, and was ordained a priest,” he says. “I felt special knowing that I am in God’s Church and that He loves me.”

    An Example of the Believers

    Rebecca and Joshua’s father, Curtis, was the branch mission leader, and he had gospel discussions with Chris. “He told me he wanted his family to be happier and to be able to have the same things in common with them.”

    “I wanted to share the gospel with my family, but it was tough because my family never went to church,” Chris says. “They really didn’t have time.”

    But they did see Chris’s example after he was baptized.

    “When the missionaries were at our house, I didn’t really pay attention,” says Chris’s stepfather, Terrance. “But as time went on, Chris was baptized, and I saw a lot of changes in him. He seemed to care more and respect everybody a lot more. So my wife and I decided to check out the Church.”

    Chris was surprised by his family’s sudden interest. “When the missionaries told me they were coming to my house to teach my family, I didn’t know if my family would be OK with that,” he says. “Then the missionaries told me that my parents invited them over, and I thought that was pretty cool.”

    A United Family

    Chris’s parents had a great experience going to church, and as they learned more, they grew closer as a family.

    “When I started going to church, I really liked it,” says Chris’s mother, Anita. “I was very interested. Most people were there as a family, and I’ve learned to be more unified with my family.”

    “After seeing the changes in Chris and enjoying church—everybody was friendly, everybody wanted to get to know you and all that—the whole family ended up getting baptized,” Terrance says. “Since joining the Church, we’ve realized family is forever. What you make of your family is what counts in life, and Jesus and Heavenly Father help you unite as a family forever.”

    Inviting Others to Come to Christ

    Chris understands why we all need to invite others to come unto Christ.

    “It’s important because you want to help as many people as you can to be saved,” Chris says. “It’s good to bring people to God. If Rebecca and Joshua’s family hadn’t done that, I wouldn’t be here right now. I know Jesus Christ put them in my life, and I’m so blessed that I’ve been brought into the gospel and that I could share it with my family.”

    Sometimes inviting your family and friends to come unto Christ is as easy as being a good example for them.

    “Chris invited us to church not by directly asking us, but he did more by the way his reactions were in life,” Terrance says. “He showed how much enjoyment church brought. He showed what being in church can do for you, how it can change you, make you better, and help you with what’s going on in life. Chris was our wake-up call from the Lord.”

    Photographs by Richard M. Romney