By David F.
Growing up in New Jersey, there were not many Mormons. In high school, I was the only one. I did not want anyone to know that I was Mormon. When someone at high school would ask me what religion I was, I would say “Protestant.”
My father was the first person in his family to become a Mormon. He joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in his thirties. He married my mother and she was baptized while she was pregnant with me, their first child. I was blessed in the church as a baby, and baptized by my father when I was eight years old. Growing up, I attended all three hours of church on Sundays with my family. However, despite being physically present at these church meetings, my heart was not in it and I was not going for the right reasons—I was going because my parents wanted me there. I was doing what I had been taught.
After graduating from high school, I attended Rutgers and lived on campus in the dorms. Without any pressure to attend church, I stopped attending entirely. I had always done well in school, but during my first year at college my grades had dropped. I did not like who I was becoming and the choices that I was making—I realized that I needed to make a change. I decided that I would live with my parents at home for my second year of college.
It was during this time at home that I can distinctly remember God speaking to me—not through an audible voice, but through the power of his Spirit. One day, I was at home and I happened to come across the lessons that the missionaries of the Church would teach to people who are interested in learning more about the teachings of Jesus Christ. In this moment, I had a desire to find out for myself if what my parents believed was true. I wanted to find out if maybe there was something more that I had been missing before. Included in each lesson were citations to various scriptures in the Bible and the Book of Mormon. I began to look up the referenced scriptures and teach myself the lessons.
I remember reading Hebrews 11:6 “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” I also remember reading where the Savior said, “My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself,” (John 7:16-17). I decided to read the missionary lessons, the scripture references, and to accept the invitations to ask God if what I was reading was true. I began to read the Bible, the Book of Mormon, attend church for the right reasons, have personal prayer, and to strive to live the teachings of Jesus Christ.
I soon made friends with other members of the Church who were my age. We hung out together, played volleyball, and went to religion classes during the week. I was also influenced by strong leaders, men and women of faith and vision, who saw potential in me that I did not see in myself. I eventually served as a full-time missionary in Arizona. I can remember being in the auditorium of the Missionary Training Center and seeing a large picture of Jesus Christ on the screen while we were singing a hymn. It was then that I received an unmistakable impression that the Savior was real. I envisioned him, one day, walking out to address us, standing behind the pulpit, and that I would hear and see him. I met my wife at church and we were married in the temple. We have three wonderful children whom we love deeply.
God speaks to each of us when we are ready. He wants each of us to know for ourselves that he lives and that his son, Jesus Christ, has the true doctrine that will bring us lasting peace and happiness.