Wednesday, 29 October 2014

My Decision to Join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

It was 2007, the beginning of February, and I had just started at a new school – a week before cycle tests began. The teacher seated me alongside a kid named Dylan Farquharson and, unbeknown to me, my journey began. In fact, it wasn't until March 2013 that I actually knew he was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It wasn't until March 2013 that I even knew the Church existed.

That’s me; obliviously unaware – and ironically so. As it turns out, my mother knew he and his family were members, yet we never spoke about it. Apparently he even showed me a copy of the Book of Mormon and invited me to a Youth talk on drugs (which I vaguely remember attending). Interesting, isn't it? I mean, even at 12, I know I had questions. I had recalled the ‘the lost scriptures’ and the beliefs of various denominations in my discussions with him. He and I spoke on various doctrinal topics and pierced through the Old and New Testaments in our walks home from school. I thoroughly enjoyed having someone who’d listen to, and participate in, my out-there rants on spiritual matters. Why then, didn't I know anything about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?

We lost touch in 2011 and came back in contact around March 2013. It was then that he invited me over to his house for dinner, not telling me that other “guests” would be joining. Though, to be fair, I doubt he even remembered that it was Friday night, DA with the missionaries. It was first the short, ash-blonde man with the physique of a rugby player that greeted me; an American, wearing a suit, to boot. Elder Beanfield. Muscular, American, suited up, and he couldn't even get my name right. These are a few of the things I despised the most.




“Only my friends call me that, but whatever.”

Then was his companion, Elder Black. The little bugger; he told me he came from Congo, which led me to talk much smack to him about Americans. You guessed it, American. He was a writer and artist of note, with an accent like none other. And that laugh. Oh, that laugh.

Anyway, that was the night I met missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They, and my friend’s father, Kevin Farquharson, were talking about Church stuff. I say “Church stuff”, because I was mortified to realise that were talking about “stuff” I knew little to nothing about. How could that be? I’ve researched practically every religion in existence (even those no longer in it). Eventually the gnawing voice at the back of my head pushed me to ask, “Do universities have modules or classes that teach about your church?” BYU they said; only BYU. Thanks. Eventually they said that they could teach me, reluctantly handing over a copy of the Book of Mormon. I didn’t recall ever seeing one. They went on to ask Dylan to tell me how the Book of Mormon changed his life and testified of its truthfulness. All good and well, but I was a wall. My curiosity was purely intellectual.

I went home that weekend and felt an immediate spiritual clash (not at all what I felt while I was in their presence). So I did the smart thing. I Googled the Church. I came across a video titled “Secrets of the Mormon Temple”. I watched it. I learnt of the Adam-God theory, baptism for the dead, their belief in becoming gods, that God was a man, that the Fall was a good thing, and that angels were resurrected beings. I felt sick. Voices bombarded my skull and I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t move. The simple thought of reading the Book of Mormon brought turmoil to my soul.

But I went back. I opened the book anyway. Because of all the voices shouting at me, the one telling me to read was the softest, the stillest. They gave me a pamphlet on the restoration and I joined them in watching conference, and going to Church. I brought them questions upon questions, explaining my theories and plausible solutions. I contended their teachings with Biblical scripture and rehearsed myself well in anti-Mormon literature. I became fluent, and they grew silent. I shared with them my deepest secrets, my deepest concerns, and in their soft, unanswering voices, I felt comfort. Though frustrating, though contended, I felt truth in their tongues and sincerity in their hearts. I grew fond of the Americans, even though I disagreed with almost everything they said.

A period of time went by and I returned to the home of the Farquharsons to find out the Elders, Black and Beanfield, were no longer there. Elders Dalton and Baker had taken their place. Americans. I was angry. I hated them. Everything I had shared with them had left with them. Any progress I may have made took a turn for the worse and this was when I officially started delving deep into LDS doctrine and scripture… to prove it wrong. To prove that Moroni and the Book of Mormon were what Galatians 1:7-9 was talking about.

They continued headstrong, unmoved. And I grew to love them as well. Elder Dalton left and Elder Zulu took his place (the first non-American, a South African). Elder Baker left and Elder Tew took his place (also an American).

I can still remember my first lesson with Elder Tew present. It was the first time we met, and he said, “I love you.”

What?! I thought. I didn't understand, but in that moment I heard the soft voice return, He will baptize you. I was nowhere near accepting the Gospel, but the Spirit whispered, and I could not deny. In that moment, everything changed. My research on anti-Mormon literature didn’t stop, but it began frustrating me. It never answered any of my questions. Instead, I only found flaws, inconsistencies, and untruths in each rebuttal.

Elder Zulu suggested Mormon 8 and it spoke to my mind. Elder Tew suggested Ether 12 and it spoke my soul. Sister Shan, Kevin’s wife, chastised my external research of the Gospel and said I should focus solely on the Book of Mormon; a message Elder Tew had been trying to get across. I listened. That night I finished reading the Book of Mormon. It rained. I felt the Spirit and knew I had a testimony. The only thing on my mind now was baptism; something the missionaries never asked of me. I tried to sleep that night and arose early that morning to find the first priesthood holder I could, Brother Kevin Farquharson, and told him that I wanted to get baptised. A date was set with the missionaries that day and, as I learnt months later, I filled the much prayed for spot of 8 December 2013.

My decision to join the Church did not come likely. In fact, my decision to join the Church came by way of testimony, a mighty change of heart. I had found my answers and found the truth. “I knew it. And I knew that God knew it. And I could not deny it.”

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