In 1978, and nearly two years into their marriage, my mother and step-father felt a void in their lives. They had decided eating out for Sunday brunch and shopping with their only child wasn’t the best way to spend the Sabbath day. Both had grown up in different faiths and agreed that religion needed to be a part of raising a family.
Over several months, the three of us visited several churches and literally sought after what my mom called “the true Gospel.” My parents discussed attending The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and soon after, the Mormon missionaries began visiting our home.
While I wasn’t opposed to them coming, I was initially annoyed and really preferred watching my favorite TV shows. But something amazing happened on their third visit.
The young men in our home opened a flip book and shared the story of a young teenager who sought after the true church. It was a story of a 14-year-old New York teen, Joseph Smith, who, in 1820, read James 1:5, which says “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”
Believing he would get an answer, Joseph ventured into the woods, knelt down and sincerely asked God which church to join. He was confused by the number of churches and varying doctrines and sought after the true faith. We were taught that during that prayer, the heavens opened up to Joseph, and that two personages appeared. One introduced the other saying “This is my Beloved Son, hear him!”
The two personages were God the Father and His Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. Joseph inquired of the Savior which church was right, and which one should he join. The Savior instructed the boy to join none of them.
“I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong,” said Smith, in his official account.
I listened very intently to this story in our Fremont, California, home and cried my heart out. I knew immediately the story to be true, and the best word I have to describe that experience was “homecoming.”
I had come home.
I knew at that moment, my heart filled with the Holy Spirit, that we found the true and everlasting Gospel. There wasn’t a doubt in my mind that God the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ, opened the heavens and appeared to that young boy who sought truth.
My testimony and conversion to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints began in that small living room at that moment. I have never wavered.
My conversion was built on the foundation of knowing that 1) Jesus is my Savior; and 2) His church was restored through Joseph Smith. As the lessons continued, I gained a testimony of the Book of Mormon, which is another testament of Jesus Christ. The Book of Mormon is a companion to the Bible, and records a spiritual and temporal history of ancient people on the American continent. Its teachings, like the Bible, guide our contemporary lives and provide answers to life’s challenges.
We attended church each Sunday, and I felt a strong connection to many people there.
Several months passed, and I witnessed the baptism of my parents at a chapel in Fremont. I am grateful to Steve Mordecai, who came with the young missionaries and helped instruct us. Four months after their baptism, I entered the waters of baptism for myself and felt a radiant burning in my bosom that to this day is hard to describe. I didn’t know what it was, and I described it to a kind woman at my side. She said it was a rare but spiritual confirmation that I had made the correct decision. I will never forget that feeling.
I am grateful to Eldon Seipert, who served as my family’s first home teacher. Home teachers are men in the congregation assigned to visit individual members. They go two by two and not only teach, but nurture and help. He looked after us and made sure our questions were answered. He helped us with the life transition that happens when becoming a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Throughout my life, people have challenged the testimony of a 7-year-old. I witness to you this day, at this moment, that I knew at 7 what I know now:
- That Joseph Smith did receive a visit from God and Jesus Christ.
- The Church of Jesus Christ has been restored. It is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
- The Book of Mormon is the word of God.
- The Bible is the word of God.
- The power of the priesthood has been restored and provides light in today’s world.
- That we are led by a prophet of God.
I was converted to our faith at a young age, and have had the privilege of sharing this message with people in a foreign land. I am grateful for these blessings, and I am grateful for my membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
This article was written by Ernie Geigenmiller, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.