I am always interested in how people came to have a testimony of the LDS Church (or any church for that matter). As I mentioned in a past post, when I was a ward mission leader I went around interviewing converts about how they came to be members. I asked stefielynn, who has made many recent comments, to share her conversion story with us. Feel free to ask her any questions about the experience.
P.S. If someone would like to share their conversion story to the LDS Church or any other church (Christian or non-Christian) send your story to email@example.com. I will periodically post stories I receive.
My first interaction with the Mormon church was through by best friend in 2nd grade. She was Mormon and I was Lutheran. My parents did not seem to have much of an issue at this time with the Mormon religion. I spent a lot of time with my little friend and her family. I remember her family being so close, it was obvious that they loved each other very much and they always included me and made me feel loved as well. My family was extremely disfunctional. There was always a lot of yelling and not a whole lot of love.
For 2 years everything was fine and Dandy. Around the beginning of 4th grade I came home from school and my parents sat me down to have a talk. They informed me that a lady from our church had a son that was stolen by the Mormons. They told me it was a bad cult, and they didn’t want me to be stolen, so I was no longer allowed to be Sierra’s friend. This was totally confusing, scary and devastating. I pictured Sierra’s family throwing me in a van and stealing me away to some far off place and never seeing my family again. Of course at this age I did as my parents asked. They even sent me to school with a bible and a scripture in revelations. I was really sad that I couldn’t be her friend anymore. I asked my parents a lot of questions as to why. They told me that Mormons believed they Jesus and Satan were brothers and that Joseph Smith the founder was a liar and a cheater and they believe in magic underwear. They also explained to me that they believed in a different God and Jesus and that Mormons will go to hell when they die and burn for eternity. This did not sound like a good thing, so I stopped asking questions and stayed as far away from her as I could.
When I went to High school I met a few more of these Mormons, and even though I tried to stay away it was a little more difficult. I had a few on my cheerleading squad my senior year and one of them became my very good friend. I tried not to get too close to her, but she was so sweet and fun It became impossible. I never asked any questions about her church, but she would always invite me to her activities, and of course I didn’t want to burn in hell with her so I declined. During High School, I remember only two people who were there for me, and they both happened to be Mormon. I remember asking my mom why Mormons, who were such good people, would go to hell. She told me again that they believed in a false Jesus and that they were a cult.
So eight years later who knocks on the door, but 2 Mormon missionaries. I at this time decided to find out from an actual Mormon what exactly they believed. Our first lesson began with me asking a thousand questions. I told them that I believed in a different Jesus and that they believed in the wrong one and that they were going to burn in hell if they didn’t except the “real” one. I went over with them all the things my parents had taught me. They were kind and they listened. I asked them to tell me what they believed and back it up with scripture, which they did. Every time they would leave they asked if I would pray and ask if it was true for myself…which I did not do. I told my family I was having Mormon missionaries coming over and they FREAKED! They told me to stop having discussions because I would be brainwashed. They also started sending me info about the church. I went against the influence of my family and continued my discussions. But I read as much as I could on the LDS church. Most of it was against the church. The only positive stuff I read about the church was given to me by the missionaries. I read about Joseph Smith and polygamy, I read about the Mountain Meadows massacre, I read about their disbelief in the Trinity and how they believed they would become gods of their own planets. I became very conflicted. What the missionaries were teaching me made sense to me. I read and I read and I read. I became more and more confused. I wrestled with this issue for a long time. I did not want to join the LDS church, I most certainly did not want to burn in Hell. I was so confused and in need of an answer. I got on my knees and I started crying. I cried and poured my heart out to the Lord. I looked up and asked Him. He brought peace like I had never known into my soul. I called the missionaries and informed them that I wanted to be baptized.
The hardest thing for me to get over was the fear of burning in Hell for eternity. I would have thought it impossible to get over. But it was not me who took that fear away. The fear left me when I prayed. And even though I hear it all the time from both family and people I randomly encounter, I just smile inside and remember that I once, was just like them.
My family is extremely upset. They are worried about my soul. But I know that this Gospel is indeed true. I know that my Father in Heaven answered my prayers and healed my heart. There are many people out there who believe as I once did, and as my family still does. Many people (both members and nonmembers) cannot get over some of the history of the church and that is understandable. But I knew all these things when I joined. As weird as it may seem, all the history is frivolous, compared to the change that occurred in my heart. I know that throughout church history mistakes have been made. Joseph Smith was a man. I don’t worship Joseph Smith. I worship my Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ and I cannot imagine where I would be without the Gospel in my life.