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Former Lutheran Church Member

 

"Our Spiritual Journey!"

By Chad Nordenstrom

I don't remember a time that I did not believe in God. I was exposed to the Lutheran denomination of Christianity as a child. After my parents divorced when I was 2 years old I went to live with my mom, we never attended church accept Christmas and Easter.

My mother, who had been Catholic, had a positive attitude about Christ. When I was a young boy my mom and I where driving down the road, when my mother rear ended a car going about 25 mph!

When this happened I was on the front seat with no seat belt on. I can still remember what happened that day until this day.

When we hit I came completely off the seat and was going to fly right through the windshield. Right at that moment I saw a white bright light and a tremendous force right on my shoulders pushing me back into the seat. I looked over at my mom and I asked her…"Did you see that?" She said, "what?" I said, "the Angels! "

At this time in my life I was 7 or 8 years old in 2nd grade. I did not go to church, I was not religious, it was what it was and my mom is my witness.

When I turned 10 I went to go live with my father and step mom, they sent me to a Lutheran church when I was in 5th and 6th grade, they also always said prayers before meals and spoke about the importance of Jesus in their lives and I think would be considered non denominational Christians.

When I was 12 years old I moved to Silverstrand Beach in Oxnard, California and I ended up getting baptized by a Pastor named Scott O’Friel in 1991. I felt a very close connection with the Savior at this time. I knew that he loved me, and I knew he would protect and watch over me. I went to this bible study for about 2-3 years.

I met my future wife when I was 15 years old, she was 12! We were best friends right from the beginning. We went to bible study together which helped build a strong foundation for our marriage. I ended up getting married when I was 19 and have been with my wife ever since.

From the time I got married until I was about 28 I sort of fell away from the Lord. The only way I can explain it is, I still walked in the light of the Lord it just wasn’t very bright. I now know how much brighter the light can get, and I look forward to even brighter times ahead.

When I was 28 I felt very inspired by a Christian friend of mine named Debi Eastman. In my opinion she was one of the best persons I have ever met. She made me know I could do better as a person especially when it came to forgiveness.

There were so many things that had to happen to land me where I am now, real estate deals gone bad, and deals gone good. I know there was a plan.

One night I went to the St. George visitors’ center with my neighbors Mike and Sandy Stephenson. I remember when I first really looked at the St. George Temple, it was at night and the temple was brightly lit, it literally took my breath away!

At the time I really didn’t even know the importance of the temple was. But I felt this strange connection to it...I was in awe.

I now know why I felt the way I did, part of my testimony to this being the true Church is the fact that members of the LDS faith are the only temple building people in the world. I truly believe that these are houses of God and I am yet to even step foot in one.

My wonderful neighbors Mike and Sandy, Joel and Sonya, Brent and Sheryl, Paul and Penny took me right under their wing! They made me feel so welcome and so accepted right from the start! They say people are "loved into the church" they aren’t kidding!

Well the next 3 months was whirlwind of learning about the Church and attending Church services and activities. It was fun and exciting as well as spiritually uplifting! I had found my niche! That part of me that was missing was no longer gone.

For the first time in my life I looked forward towards Sundays for something except Seahawks football. Even so, being the skeptic that I was, I wanted to know for sure that this Church was everything they said it was.

I did a lot of my own investigating, praying and fasting, which the missionaries encouraged me to do. That's what impressed me most....no one in the Church wanted me to "follow blindly" they were very supportive of me finding my own answers.

One of the missionaries giving me my discussions told me....."You don't have to believe what we tell you...YOU pray and ask the Lord yourself if it's right or wrong!"....Well that's what I did....and I got my answer. No, it wasn't as thrilling as a 'burning bush’ or anything....but when you feel the spirit of the Lord upon you....well there's just no doubt!

This is what happened to me, it was the night of Tuesday, March 27th 2007.

My missionaries Elder Ward and Elder Mathias were at my house along with my neighbor Mike and John Southwick. We were hearing the message of the missionaries and talking about the gospel when somehow the subject got brought up about Joseph Smith being a true prophet.

I must tell you I said I have never believed in Joseph Smith. I have seen all the movies, I have heard the talks, I have prayed with a sincere heart and I have had no answers. Earlier that week I sent an email to my neighbor Mike that detailed my many concerns I had concerning the Church. These were the type of questions that even the very most skeptical person could ever ask.

That night ended with a not so good feeling in my opinion. I was not mad or upset; I think I was just extremely frustrated. I felt nothing for the prophet Joseph Smith. I knew that without Joseph Smith the Book of Mormon was not true, and that made me feel very frustrated.

When it came to Joseph Smith I went onto the internet to find every negative thing about him I could find, and believe me it is out there. Once you find this negativity you now have to research the source, then you can try to come to some conclusion.

I think Mike said it best when he said “If you wanted to learn about Jesus would you go ask Caiaphas about him? Or would you ask Peter, John, Luke, or Matthew?” This made a lot of sense to me, but still I had no confirmation through my prayers on whether or not Joseph Smith was true.

On this night I went out to take a Jacuzzi, it was cold and windy outside so Sarah said that she would like to stay inside. After I had got into the Jacuzzi I looked up in the sky and realized just how grateful I was to have the life I had and how blessed I felt. After I sat there for awhile I thought to myself, right now would be the best time to pray. I sat there for the next 45 minutes in the deepest prayer of my life.

I closed my eyes and prayed to Heavenly Father to please tell me if Joseph Smith is the true prophet, I continued over and over and over, asking Lord please tell me or give confirmation somehow Lord that Joseph is or is not the true prophet. After about 20 very long minutes nothing happened!

So I went on praying about how I know Jesus is true, and how I knew for a fact with all my heart that he had recently been watching me very closely. I thanked him for giving me the strength for the first time in my life to be able to cut alcohol out of my life. I never knew what it was like to have a consecutive 30 days or so off from alcohol completely.

As I thanked him over and over I could feel this very warm presence over my shoulders. It felt almost exhausting for some reason. I felt almost if I could feel someone behind me just over my shoulders, so I opened my eyes and no one was there just the wind but I still felt something, so the next 25-30 minutes I started praying to Jesus, then I started saying

Dear Heavenly Father and I continued to just go on and on praying with all of my heart. I went into James, and Moroni 10:4 I asked over and over for anything that would bring confirmation regarding Joseph Smith…nothing happened! At the very end I was so frustrated that I told the Lord that I felt like maybe that Joseph Smith was not a prophet and maybe the Church is not true.

So as a last ditch effort I said Lord, it says in Moroni that if I asked you with a sincere heart I would get an answer…I said I have run out of patience Lord. I guess I will just watch conference with the elders and Mike and if I do not receive any confirmation of Joseph Smith by the weekend I will return to the Lutheran Church and continue my journey.

I then got out of the Jacuzzi with the intent to come into the house and tell my wife Sarah my new plan and about the lack of answers to my prayers. I then went into the house and for some reason walked right by Sarah on my way to the shower.

All of this time still feeling a real presence. When I got into the shower I went to turn on my shower radio…When I turned it on the first thing I heard was “Joseph Smith the prophet and seer of the lord has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men of this world, than any other man that lived in it.”

I really thought I was going to faint for a second but then I started screaming Sarah, Sarah, Sarah! My wife came running into the bathroom and was like, what? I said, did you touch my radio? She said no! I don’t even listen to that thing. I told her it had been on my country station for 3 months!

I listen to the radio every time I shower. I only get  3 clear stations. At this point she had no idea what was happening! I jumped out of the shower to go out to my garage so I could get into my car to find out what station I was listening to.

It happened to be 105.7fm. So, I came back into the house and sat on the couch next to my wife with tears pouring down my face and explained to her what I was just praying about in the Jacuzzi.

Then, right there during the talk he mentioned the verse Moroni 10:4! Now I know that this is a common verse, but! What are the chances of that talk going on at that exact moment I got in the shower?

And how did my radio get to BYU broadcasting? This radio was never even near 105.7 on the dial, it was on 99.9! Right after the talk ended it returned to music.

At this time I was so emotional I just wanted to go to bed. I woke up in the morning in disbelief of what had happened to me. I kept thinking was this my sign? Was this my confirmation? I thought could this be a coincidence?

Well, I went to work, as I sat there I thought I need to find out who gave that talk, so I looked up BYU broadcasting and got there number.

The girl on the phone showed me how to access that talk and download it. She told me that this talk went from 9:07 to 9:53pm it was by Milton V. Backman Jr., it was a talk he did at a BYU education week conference in 2004 on the Theological Contributions of the prophet Joseph Smith.

I thought to myself what chance would there be of turning on the radio even if you knew you were on 105.7 BYU radio and having the very first things come out be, “Joseph Smith the prophet and seer of the lord”? I bet I could turn the radio on at random for the rest of my life and not catch that!

I know what I am telling you sounds unbelievable, or to some it may sound quite coincidental but I am telling you that I know what Heavenly Father had to tell me this night. I told the Lord I could handle it if I saw a vision or an angel but I now believe the Lord knew I could not.

This was the most powerful moment in my whole life. It felt as if Heavenly Father spoke directly to me. He knew what I needed to here. Now here comes the further confirmation.

Two weeks ago I prayed that I wanted to know if the LDS Church was true. I got an answer in my head that was of my own voice it was like that same voice that is in your head when you think a thought and thought simply said Chad, In your opinion if you had to see which people you see walk the most Christ like life which faith would it be?

I immediately thought the LDS but it was later confirmed when I thought about the cookies that our neighbors welcomed us with, and the hygiene kits that were put together at Sheryl’s house for the military and when Sandy had asked Penny (Sarah’s mom) if she would like to sew.

I thought back to when I very first moved in and Sandy asked what could we help you with? I thought about the times I had with Joel and Sonya and the kids, riding motorcycles, eating pizza together, it was just everything coming together if that makes sense.

I know the Church is true with all my heart!

The Church has helped me so much and got me through some very trying times....I know Jesus is my Savior...and that we have a living Prophet guiding our Church today. I am thankful for all the blessings that have come to me and hope I will continue to live worthy of those blessings... and be able to share my testimony with any who want to hear...
 

 

 

 

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