Former Non-Denominational Member
"You Met Him When You Were Supposed To "
By Johnny Mills
I have thought about this over and over. What
makes a conversion story?? What do you write? What can you put into
your conversion story that can fully portray the full scope of the
Have you ever had just one bad day? I have, and it
changed my life forever. In November of 2006, I let a lot of people
get to me and a lot of bad stuff get to me. But the bottom line, I
let myself make a decision that cost me everything. I wanted so
badly to blame other people so that it wasn't my fault but, it was.
And because of it I lost everything and everyone.
A wise woman would always tell me, "You make your
own decisions.." and I always thought that can't be true. What about
what this person says or what about what this person needs you to
do? What I learned is that no matter the "What ifs" or anything
else, it will come down to you.
After I made the worst decision ever in November I
was continuing that trend. I was homeless; I lived out of my car and
had no place to go for a warm shower or even a simple warm meal.
Some of the people that I thought were my friends
disappeared, others helped me to get lost in the bar scene. And no
matter how much I would drink or how many bad karaoke songs I would
sing I was still empty inside.
During that time, somehow I made the choice to try
to find God. I know some people have said in my life that it isn't
hard, you would be surprised. Growing up most of my family and my
familyís friends were involved in many different genres of Christian
churches. None of it made any sense to me.
Growing up I remember seeing a commercial for the
Book of Mormon, Dad never really would explain it to me. So church,
well, I just didn't get it. So during the months of November and
December I went looking for the answers to life so I went to a
number of churchís. I was really trying to find an answer to why I
chose to let my self make the worst decision ever.
I won't even go into detail about all the churchís
I visited but I was about to hit the absolute lowest point in my
life. I washy not in the best of places.
I actually tried my best to avoid the LDS religion
and looked everywhere else. My dad had told me, "Itís of the
devil...Itís a cult...No woman in the church will ever love you,
they would only want you so that they can have a god child." (Yes
these are all direct quotes from my dad.)
He went on and on...and well I let him get to me.
(Again even if I didn't think about it, the choice was still mine to
make.) I had the choice to let him get to me or not and I chose
poorly. For the longest time the help a lot of people wanted to give
me was, "Get this man a beer!" Well that certainly was not the help
I needed. I was going down quick.
This is the part in the conversion story where I
am supposed to say I found the church, but in all honesty, the
church found me.
On December 21st I was driving around feeling
completely lost and alone. It felt as if there was no hope for
anything and thatís when it happened.
A small pamphlet from a missionary, (the church
was in my life for the last 2 years in one manner or another but
that is a different story for another time) actually slid out from
underneath the passengers seat of my car. I can't explain but for
some reason it felt like I needed to call them, and I did.
The missionaries I spoke with invited me to church
that Sunday and I being the crazy guy I am said I would come after
the first of the year. But for some reason that Sunday, December
24th I decided to go. I was invited to go to the Carmel Ward, but I
ended up at the Pineville 1st> I was invited to the 11 o'clock
service,I went to the 9 o'clock service.
Despite my mistakes I was invited in like I was
family. People actually seemed to care about you. I thought, "Wow,
what a concept!" I mean I went to a lot of churches in my life and
for the first time I felt welcomed in one.
"Itís of the Devil"...Yeah right! When has anyone
known the devil to be so kind and giving. I mean I was floored, I
remember Steve Lindsay invited me to dinner that night with his
family. I couldn't help but think "Who are these people?"
On December 24th in sacrament meetingÖ.well all I
can say is... I met "THE MAN". Here I am an investigator going to
the wrong ward and wrong time, but I meet the right missionary.
Elder Bodkin, Imagine Freddy Prinze Jrís looks
with the personality of Jim Carey and the Guitar skills of Edwin
McCain and you might get close. He was able to break things down to
me and well for the first time in forever, things actually started
to make since.
I told the Bishop once that I wished I would have
meet Elder Bodkin along time ago, I thought my life would be a lot
different now. The Bishop in all his wisdom said "You meet him when
you were supposed to!" It felt like the kind of advice or statement
that you never want to hear, but is without a doubt 100% true.
During this time I was still homeless so I
literally had no home to be taught from and so the elders made
arrangements with church family members to allow me to be taught in
Again, people being nice, opening there homes up
to a stranger, people being made to feel welcomed. Itís no wonder
the outside world make comments and picks at the church. The outside
world isn't used to seeing such love and compassion.
During this time Elder Brown came into the picture
and again it felt like, "HEíS THE MAN!" They both are. Elder Brown
is amazingly wise and deep and knows his gospel forward and
backwards. Elder Bodkin, can anyone really say just one thing about
Elder Bodkin. He had the greatest gift of all, I mean he knew his
gospel, he is friendly to everyone, but for some reason he made me
feel like I mattered, they both did.
I was inducted into another group at this time as
well. My second home teaching night I meet Josh Smith or as we like
to refer to him, Batman. Josh and his wife Betti-jo are some of the
best people you will ever meet. Josh was kind enough to open his
home to me for my home teaching class.
That night not only did I have a wonderful lesson
shared I meet a great friend. ( Something that was a rarity for me.)
I could go on and on about how great Josh , Elder Bodkin and Elder
Brown are but I am sure we all know that. That night at Joshís house
I was asked on of the most important questions ever in my life.
"Johnny we like to ask you to consider being baptized on January
It hit me. Whoa. They want me to do what. And in
the back of my mind my dadís words echoed again, "Itís of the
devil". But instead of listening to him I listened to a voice from
the past, "You make your own decisionís"' and with that I decided to
pray about it.
Of course the Elderís asked me to pray but I
really decided to put serious thought into it. Baptism, what would
happen to me?? Where would I go?? What would I do?? To hear my dad
talk one could think I would sprout wings and grab a pitch fork. But
then I seriously sat and thought and prayed, for the first time in
my life I really prayed hard.
In my past I always took a poll to see what
everyone wanted me to do, but for once it was me. I had to think
about how joining the church would affect my life. I knew some
people would hate me for joining, some would be upset, and some
would try to understand.
The main thing I looked at was for the first time
in my life I looked forward to going to church, I looked forward to
learning more; I looked forward to actually being around people who
weren't just church folk but almost an extended family.
So with a lot of thought and heavy prayer I made a
decision. I was going to be baptized and joining The Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter Day Saints.
On January 13th I was baptized. Elder Brown
conducted and Elder Bodkin dunked me. I invited my family and I
invited a few people that I would have loved to see come, out of all
I invited only my Mom and little sister came.
To my surprise however, the church showed up in
droves. I mean it was a packed house. I was absolutely taken aback
at the support that was there. I may have lost one family, I may
have lost...well I may have lost a lot but I gained a new church
family and an amazing understanding of life, love, marriage and
everything in between. It took me losing everything to gain
After I was baptized things became hard. A few
voices from my past came back to, well letís just say to remind me
of past mistakes. People started look at me differently, family
stopped talking to me as much, a few friends disappeared all
together but something was different.
I had a small spring in my step, I actually
started making decisions in my life to be proud of.
I worked hard to excel in my calling, I have
helped 6 stranded motorists, 1 homeless man, 1 person who was
investigating and later joined, I helped to paint someoneís home and
I have gone out on a number teaching lessons with the missionaries.
The one thing I am most proud of is I was blessed
with the opportunity to take portraits for the wedding of the
century, Josh and Betti-jo were married on July 13th.
After my baptism things continued changing. I went
from being homeless to living in a beautiful home. I went from
having no friends to being inducted into "The League" (ask Josh!
hahaha), I went from not understanding life to knowing exactly what
I have helped friends meet people they have cared
for deeply. I have helped a number of people and will continue to
help a number of people.
Some times it feels weird to say, I never thought
I would be saying it. I know this church is true. There is no
question. No matter how bad my week is, I get to go to church and
get recharged for the next week. No matter how big the problem I
have an amazing church family that will support me 100%.
I may feel sometimes it cost me a lot to have my
eyes opened to the church, but it hasn't cost me anymore than it did
God to send his only Son to Earth to die for me. I know this Church
is True, I know that there is a prophet on the Earth and I know that
Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God.
My dad always quoted a bible verse that goes
something like, "You will know my people by the fruit of there
labor" (I know its not exact ) but the point is the churchís fruit
is Love, Family, Kindness and a set of Moral values not really found
I am grateful for God sending Elder Bodkin, Elder
Brown and Josh Smith to show me the church. To help me see the
wonder the church has to offer. I say this a lot but the church
literally saved my life. I would hate to think about where I would
be if the church didn't find me.