I was baptized on December 15, 2007 at the age of 54. Not long after my baptism I was asked to share my conversion story on the Church’s Canada webpage. Recently I have been asked to do a follow up to that story.
At that time, I had been married to Lynn for 30 years. She was an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and because of her our four children were raised in the gospel of Jesus Christ. They were great missionaries and had asked me about joining the Church several times. I always told them I was not interested.
God took matters into His own hands when on November 7, 2007 I became very sick and ended up in the ICU with streptococcal pneumonia. My body went into septic shock. I was given a blessing by family and friends, was intubated, and put in a coma. My kidneys failed, my muscles deteriorated, and I was put on a feeding tube. I was not expected to live. Many friends and associates fasted for me. My son was brought home a week early from his mission for fear that he might never see his father alive again. He too gave me a blessing with the assistance of our Stake President. What a powerful experience that was.
To make a long story short, after this blessing my condition began to improve and I returned to good health. Some of my doctors could not believe the change.
But I did not only heal physically, but spiritually as well. I could feel the Spirit, the prayers and the love and faith which surrounded me. It included the support of everyone who knew me. Because of these powerful examples and the influence of the Holy Ghost, I was overwhelmed and chose to be baptized.
The original article that I shared was titled: “Becoming a Mormon: My Conversion Through Prayer and Fasting.” It was still appropriate to use the term “Mormon” back then. But to correct an inaccuracy that is alluded to in that title, my conversion did not stop at my baptism. It continues to this day.
Four areas have impacted my life enormously since I entered into the waters of baptism: faith, love, prayer, and example.
Alma compares faith to a mustard seed. “But behold, as the seed swelleth, and sprouteth, and beginneth to grow, then you must needs say that the seed is good; for behold it swelleth, and sprouteth, and beginneth to grow. And now, behold, will not this strengthen your faith? Yea, it will strengthen your faith: for ye will say I know that this is a good seed; for behold it sprouteth and beginneth to grow” (Alma 32:30).
I can relate to this verse because after my decision to be baptized I could feel the spirit constantly with me and the seed inside me was my testimony which grew and grew. I felt good about my life and about the role the gospel played in it.
I was amazed at the faith of my family, especially my wife. She had had enough faith and conviction to work hard making sure our children had the gospel in their lives. Their examples of faith also overwhelmed me.
Before marriage I had only ever met one member of the Church. When I was fourteen and living in Quebec, I met Larry, a classmate. He was different; kind, gentle, spiritual, and full of faith. He shared with me that he was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I remember thinking that I would never be able to remember such a long name for a church. He moved back to the United States, but I always remembered him.
In Mark 12 we are taught about the importance of love. “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:30-31).
I am so grateful for the love that was shown me through my association with the Church and especially since my baptism. The opportunities to serve have allowed me to express my love for those around me and to support family and friends.
I have always felt love from my family, before and after marriage. My father served in the Canadian Armed Forces so we moved a lot. We were strengthened by our very loving, insular family. After marriage these tight family ties continued.
My love for our Saviour and for our Heavenly Father is real. Because of this love, my wife and I accepted the call to serve in the Paris France Mission, beginning in October 2014. I was called as the branch president in a small branch in northern France. We were blessed with the love we felt from the members and friends we met, and the faith displayed.
It has already been mentioned how I could feel the prayers of those around me while sick in the hospital. My name was on the prayer roll of five different temples and I am totally convinced that this was a huge part of my returning to good health. Bruce R. McConkie has said: “Prayer changes our lives. . . . Through it the sick are healed, the dead are raised, and the Holy Spirit is poured out without measure upon the faithful” (Bruce R. McConkie, “Patterns of Prayer,” Ensign, April 1984).
Prayer continues to help and guide me. The sacrament prayers strengthen me weekly as I reflect on the Saviour and His Atonement. My patriarchal blessing also directs, uplifts, and protects. Strength comes every time I have been asked to provide a blessing for someone in need, and I never feel closer to Heavenly Father than when giving a blessing.
I can honestly say that prayer has greatly changed my life and continues to do so.
There have been so many wonderful examples in my life of love, faith, and prayer. It seems that when I was baptized they threw me into the deep end of the font, because five months after my baptism I was called into a bishopric for a YSA [young single adult] ward. This was exactly what I needed. The bishop was the director for Church education for Canada. He was such an example for me and there was not a better person in Canada to mentor me as a neophyte member. Since then I have served in many varied callings and in each I was influenced greatly by the examples of men and women.
My conversion is an ongoing process as I am influenced by the love, faith, prayers, and example of others. I hope that this process will never stop because those influences make me a better person and better prepare me to live with my Heavenly Father on the other side of the veil. It is my hope that my faith, my love, my prayers, and my example can be a force for good for others.
I know the Church is true. It has been such a positive influence for me. I feel the blessing 24/7. I love to read the scriptures and to serve. I love the soft whisperings of the Spirit. What a great change these influences have made on my life.