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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 change??

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 their homes.

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 13th."

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 eternity.

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 everything means.

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 anywhere else.

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.


 

 

 

 

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