WHEN THOU ARE CONVERTED

For all of my growing up years I was raised in a God fearing home. My mother was Lutheran and that was the church I attended. When I was twelve years old I went to catechism, which is a course of instruction to teach the youth the basic beliefs of the church. Upon successful completion of that study program, we were then permitted to participate in taking communion.

My father had been raised as a Catholic. When he was dating my mother, her father would always pull this young boy aside and try to show him that the Catholics were wrong and that the Lutherans were right. Finally, one day, my father decided to prove that just the opposite was true. In violation of the rules of the Catholic church, my father started reading the Bible. To his surprise, he became convinced that the Catholics were wrong in their doctrinal beliefs. However, he also convinced himself that the Lutherans were also wrong. As a result of this endeavor to find the truth for himself, my father became an avid reader of the Bible from that time forth. Yet, because of his studies, he developed his own unique brand of religious thought that was different from any other faith, including the "Mormons"

During my growing up years I remember him loving to get into debates with ministers and other people who would engage him in religious conversation, and most especially the Jehovah Witnesses and the Mormon missionaries, who came knocking on his door asking to talk about God. Very often I sat spellbound listening to these vigorous exchanges of ideas. I also grew up watching every Billy Graham Crusade and every Oral Roberts tent meetings when they were televised.

This was my religious background when I left home to join the Air Force at age twenty. A year later I was given my first permanent duty station near Sherman, Texas, a small town just a few miles from the Oklahoma boarder. The barracks there were more like dormitories, in that they consisted of a series of small rooms with only three people living in each. This afforded us much more privacy than the open barracks with fifty or more people double bunked side by side for the whole length of the building.

One day a roommate of mine overheard me discussing God with another airman, and, when we were alone in our room, started talking to me about his faith. I remember him saying that his church had a prophet, and I remember saying to myself, "So what? Big deal. What difference does that make?" However, that's all I can remember of those conversations, except that we had quite a few of them from time to time.

Then one day he came to me and said he had a couple of friends who wanted to talk to me about his faith, and I responded by saying that I didn't mind talking to anyone about God. He then explained that these friends couldn't come on the base, so we would have to go to their place. Having no objection to doing that, we set a date and, at the appointed time, went to their home. When we arrived at the house, I was escorted down a pair of outside stone steps that led into the basement, where two young men, just barely younger than me, were waiting. They explained that this was their apartment which they were renting from the owners of the house. The area was extremely small and the ceiling was so low we could not fully stand upright. They offered me a chair to sit in while they sat on their bed.

I don't remember much of that first discussion except I came away from it totally convinced that these two kids didn't know anything at all about the Bible. They talked to me about something called the IRONIC priesthood, and I knew that wasn't in the Bible. And they told me about some other guy by the name of Mel-something or other who held a special sort of priesthood, and I was equally convinced that he wasn't in the Bible either. However, after that first meeting, they asked if we could set up another time to discuss their beliefs. I didn't have anything else to do, so I said, "Sure, why not." I was beginning to feel like my father, who enjoyed debating the Bible with whomever he could.

During the next several discussions, they had me open my Bible and showed me things in it that I never knew existed. As they explained each concept of Mormonism, and then pointed it out to me in the Bible, I was left unable to refute their claims. After each point they would ask, "What do you think about that?" or "How do you feel about that?" I was put in a position where I was forced to admit that they were right, not so much because I felt it in my heart, but because they had logically convinced me through the words in the Bible.

However, there was one point they couldn't convince me of, which was that the Father, Son and Holy Ghost were three separate and distinct people. Try as they might, they couldn't make me see their point of view. I remember my father telling me that before the Lord ascended into heaven he commanded His apostles to "Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost" (Matthew28:19). He then pointed out that in every instance in the Bible where it talks about baptism, it states that they were baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. My father's argument was this: What is the name of the Father? What is the name of the Son? What is the name of the Holy Ghost? The answer: Jesus Christ, because He was all three! My father reasoned that the apostles understood this and that's why they always baptized in the name of Jesus Christ rather than "in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost." And that was my conviction too.

Finally, out of exasperation, the missionaries pointed out that since I believed everything else they had told me, why not go ahead and set a date for my baptism? I told them that if I was going to be a Mormon, then I had to believe everything, and until I could resolve this issue of the Trinity, I wouldn't be baptized. Next they asked if I would be willing to fast and pray about it. I agreed, and they also agree to fast and pray for me.

On the appointed day, I awoke and knelt in prayer by my bed and asked the Lord to show me the truth concerning the Trinity. I then arose and went about my normal duties for the day without giving much thought to the matter, with the exception of not eating. Late that night I found myself alone in my room, so I once again knelt in sincere prayer to ask for an answer. When I finished, I rose to my feet, but didn't have any startling revelations. However, the thought occured to me that perhaps I should read the Bible. My father was always fond of saying, "For every Holy Ghost question, give me a Holy Ghost answer." By that he meant, since the Bible was the inspired word of God, then any question about God could best be answered by the word of God. So I sat down on my bed and used a technique he had taught me --just open the Bible anywhere and start reading. The idea behind this method is that whatever page you inadvertently turn to is exactly where the Lord wants to show you something. So I opened the Bible at random and started reading.

Within two verses I had my answer! There it was, as plain as anything could be that the Father and Son were two totally separate and distinct people! Furthermore it was a Holy Ghost, (i.e. Biblical) answer to a Holy Ghost question.

I laid the Bible on my lap and thought to myself, "Why those two dumb missionaries. Why didn't they show me this verse in the first place, and that would have explained everything." I had my answer, and now I was satisfied. But what was I going to do with the rest of the evening? Since I had the Bible already open, I decided that I might as well read some more. I flipped several pages and started to read again. No sooner had I begun than I found myself being confronted with yet another scripture that proved the Father and Son were two different people. I was astonished. Quickly I flipped several more pages and, sure enough, there it was again. I flipped more pages and the same concept leaped up at me. Every time I turned the pages and read, I kept finding scriptural evidence that the Father and Son were two different people. The Bible was full of the doctrine. Then, suddenly, I realized that it wasn't the missionaries who were dumb, but me.

Excitedly, I ran out of the room, and down the hall to the pay phone. To say that the missionaries were overjoyed at my conversion would be an understatement. I'm sure they said many words of praise and thanks to their Heavenly Father that night for answering the prayers of three spiritually inexperienced young men.

At that time, the members were so few in number that we were just a small branch. In fact, we were so small, we didn't even have a building of our own in which to meet. As a result of those conditions, the branch leaders had made arrangements to use the facilities of the Seventh-day Adventists, who would hold church on Saturday, and let us use their building to meet on Sunday. The only problem with this was that the church we were meeting in had no baptismal font. However, the missionary elders took care of that by making arrangements with a local Baptist church who allowed them to use their font. And so, a Lutheran boy went to the Baptist church to become a member of the Mormon faith so that he could worship God in a Seventh-day Adventist building.

From that shaky beginning God has helped my testimony of His church to grow and become strong through answered prayers and personally revealed knowledge. Although I have never had the opportunity to serve as a missionary, I am reminded of the Savior's words to Peter, "When thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren" (Luke 22:32). As a result of all that God has given me, which has helped convert me from my way of thinking to a better appreciation of the true plan of salvation, I feel a duty and an obligation to share that knowledge with others to help them become stronger in their understanding of His word. That is why I have started an internet web page. It's not about me and my ideas, but rather, it is dedicate it to His glory and the building up of His kingdom.


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