My name is Hunter Swift, and I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints aka Mormon. I joined this church on August 1st, 1999. My mom, Marcia Recendez is also a member of the church; she joined the church in 1998. I am an only child. My mom Marcia Recendez and I are the only members in our family. The Church and the gospel of Jesus Christ has changed my life as well as my mother’s and I would like to share with you how this all came about.
Our conversion story is actually quite interesting. After my parents divorced, my mom who was raised a non-denominational Christian, married a Catholic, and became Catholic. After about a year she met a couple that were members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They tried to share the gospel with her by giving her a Book of Mormon, but she had the misconception that Mormons considered Joseph Smith to be the center of their church (instead of Jesus Christ). She thought Joseph Smith was a competitor of Jesus Christ instead of being a messenger from him. My mom then became Anti-Mormon and became opposed to the church to save them from what she thought was the “church of the devil”. She began reading Anti-Mormon literature and watching movies made of lies and contention to deter people from the Mormon Church. Her friends had invited her to the Mormon Church, which she attended, however she went only to try to find the truth from within. She ended up reading the Book of Mormon to prove it wrong, trying to find an error or something that was contradictory to the Bible. After reading The Book of Mormon she had the Spirit bear record of its truthfulness and she knew that it was true. My mom ended up being baptized. My mom in turn wanted to share the gospel with me but I was young and not interested in anything like that, and I told my mom, "I don't care what you do just don't bother me with it." I didn't even know anything about Mormons or the church, except they couldn't do all the things that I was doing that I thought was fun.
About this time I joined the United States Army. The day I left I was hugging my mom goodbye, and she said that I should start to going to church, that it might be good to get a religious foundation in my life. I told her that I probably would someday, but if I did it would be Protestant or Catholic, it would never be Mormon, because I thought I could be a good Protestant or Catholic and still do all the things that I was doing.
That first night away before they shipped us to basic training, they put us in a motel for the night. It was our last night of freedom for 18 weeks, so you can imagine all the worldly things that were going on that night. We were all leaving to go party when I one of the guys just sat on his bed and started to read the Book of Mormon. I questioned why he didn't want to go with us, and tried really hard to deter him from reading and to go out with us. Never before have had I met someone with as high morals and with as much strength to resist my temptations and trust me, I didn't make it easy. I was very disrespectful and insultive. But his courage and strength really allowed me to have a lot of respect for him. Well, he happened to be stationed at the same basic training; in the same platoon as I was. He and another member of the church were really the only two friends I made in all of basic training. I could tell right away that they were different from others; they seemed to always have a light in them that seemed to shin from within.
During basic training you are allowed to go to a 3 hour religious service. I mostly went to get away from getting yelled at and maybe get some sleep. I was attending a Protestant religious service, but I had many questions, and I was confused. And I didn’t seem to get the answers that would help me understand. This made me a little judgmental of pursuing something that I really didn’t understand. Some of my questions were, why were there so many different Christian churches that all used the Bible but yet understood it so differently as to do disagree upon doctrines, and be divided in different sects? I was confused as to how these churches were formed, by what authority did the preachers have to preach, and where did they get it from? I was also confused as to why there were no longer prophets, apostles, and revelations. All these questions made me lose hope in all organized religions, that there wasn’t any church that was true.
One day my new Army friends invited me to attend the Mormon Church. It was a great meeting. All these guys were bearing their testimonies; they were going through the same problems and difficulties that I was going through. It was the first time that I heard someone say that the gospel could help me with my struggles. I had always thought that that religion helped just spiritually. Hearing there testimonies really helped. I felt something that made me interested in learning more. The missionaries were there and they shared with me their beliefs. They taught me about our Heavenly Father, a plan that he has for us and the role of Jesus Christ in this plan as our Savior. I was surprised on how much they talked about Jesus Christ. I felt right away that my belief that Mormons weren’t Christians was wrong. They taught me about Christ’s church in earlier days with apostles and prophets, and about the Apostasy when the prophets and apostles were killed, and then about the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ through living prophets in our days. The excuses I had were becoming irrelevant. I decided that I was going to go back to church the next week. I had many questions, many doubts, and was interested in finding out if it was true or not.
They invited me to use my faith and confidence and pray and ask god about the truthfulness of their message. I prayed long and hard to know that it was true. Just like it says in The Book of Mormon: "Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts. And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost."
I asked God and received an answer from the Holy Ghost and I knew that it was true but I procrastinated the day of my repentance, I wasn’t ready to change and commit myself to living the commandments of God, and I went back to doing the things I used to do. In with the bad, out went to the good. I did not get baptized. I knew it was true but just continued to live my life worldly.
A year and half later I was stationed at Fort Hood, Texas, and hit a low part in my life. I was dealing with my problems in ways that was just making them worst and I made some foolish decisions because of them, which had some severe consequences. I felt like I was hitting “rock bottom”. I wasn’t happy and needed help. The next day, I was looking for help and was discussing the matters over with a sergeant of mine, that night he came over bringing two missionaries. My sergeant was a member of the church I didn't even know. It was answer to a prayer, the day before I had made a decision to talk to the missionaries if they ever came around. I really appreciated his courage to invite the missionaries over.
I was real eager to talk to them. I came to learn that I was tired of the way I was living my life. I wasn't happy. There was something missing in my life. I came to realization that when I was the farthest away from God, that was when I was the most unhappy. I had felt that because of bad decisions I had made I was carrying with me my sins, which to me felt heavy and burdensome. I wanted to be clean. I have heard if you don't like your life, to change it. So I decided that I was going to turn my life around. It wouldn't be easy; I had to dig myself out of a pretty big hole. I had tried before but always gave up when I saw the obstacle before me. Thinking that there was no way I could do it. The truth is I couldn't do it, at least not by myself. But Jesus Christ helped me. He took my hand and helped me through it. I know I couldn't have done it with out His help.
I continued with the discussions and was taught more about God’s plan for me and after much thought and prayer; I followed the example of Jesus and got baptized on August 1st, 1999, and received the gift of the Holy Ghost. It was such a great day. I remember coming out of the water free and clean. It was comforting to know that I was baptized by someone who had been giving the authority from God to officiate in these ordinances, and become a member of the true Church of Jesus Christ.
There were times in my life that I thought God didn't love me and that if he did, why would he have me going through this or that ordeal? But I look at it now like this: God loved me so much that he put me through all that so I can be where I am now. I can trace everything good in my life back to Christ and I am so thankful for everything that he has done for us. The Holy Ghost has given me a solid testimony that burns inside of me. I have completely changed my life for the better. Friends and family could see a change in me. I was able to draw closer to God-closer than I had ever come before.
Since I have joined this church it has been incredible, and a lot has happened to me. I love going to church every Sunday, and I look forward to Sunday all week. I love everything about this church. It has allowed me to grow spiritually, and has allowed me to experienced many wonderful things. I have come to know that this is the same church that Christ formed when he lived on the earth, only now restored personally by Jesus Christ.
I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of the Lord. In 1820 at 14 years of age he was trying to find a church to join but was confused by the many churches and differences in their beliefs, when one day he was reading in the Bible in James 1:5 which says, "if any of us lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally." So he decided to do just that. One day he prayed and received a visit of our Heavenly Father and his son Jesus Christ.
In response to his prayer, they said that there was not a true church of Jesus Christ in the world; that the other churches were in error because of the Apostasy. Apostasy means a falling away, or a time when the gospel has been lost or taking away from the world. Since the very beginning God has given his children prophets. These men were often mocked and scourged, beaten and killed. After every prophet came rejection and an apostasy. But because of God’s love for us he has always given us a restoration of another prophet. After they were all rejected, and the people began to twist and distort the laws of God. God sent his son Jesus Christ to establish a church, one church, his church. He did this with the foundation of prophets and apostles.
After the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, there was much persecution, and the prophets and apostles were killed. There were no longer men who had the authority to receive revelation and guide his church. Since these leaders were gone, people began to understand the gospel and the scriptures differently, and people began to form there own church based on what they believed to correct. For this reason there are millions of churches out there. All claiming to be Christ’s church, but all have different beliefs and doctrines. “But is Christ divided?” Does God change? He has always talked to us through his prophets. It says in the Bible in Amos 3:7 "Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets."
After the visit of God the Father and his son Jesus Christ; Joseph Smith was called of God to be a prophet, like Moses or Noah, but in our days. He received revelations, and received the authority of the priesthood. Through Joseph Smith, Jesus Christ personally restored his gospel and his church to the world for the preparation of his second coming.
We now have a living prophet named Gordon B. Hinckley and 12 apostles who like prophets and apostles of old, also talk with God and receive instruction for us, and stand as living witnesses of our savior Jesus Christ. I was able to see the Prophet and Apostles, hear them speak. I was filled with the Spirit, and I know what they were speaking was true, for if it wasn't I know that I would not have felt the spirit as much as I did when I heard them speak. It strengthened my testimony so much that I can't even explain. How fortunate are we to know, that there is a living prophet on this earth, and that God speaks to him.
I know for some it is hard to accept these things to be true, but God has given us a way to know. It is the way I have come to know that these things are true: The Book of Mormon- another testament of Jesus Christ. We know that before us lived people here in the Americas. These people were also sons of our Heavenly Father. They too had the need to know about God, his son, his plan, the commandments, etc. God used the same method of revealing theses things to them as did he in Jerusalem, through living prophets. These prophets brought down their stories, experiences, and dealings with god, in books called scriptures which contain the word of god, for example the Bible. The Book of Mormon contains the writing of these ancient prophets who live here in the Americas. Joseph Smith translated these ancient writings into English by the power of God, and now we have The Book of Mormon and a fruit of Joseph Smith; as it says in the Bible, "for their fruits you will know them". Now we have two records from two separate continents (the Bible and the Book of Mormon) that both testify that God lives, that Jesus lives, and that he is the Savior of the world.
I have read the Book of Mormon many times. It has helped me understand better Gods plan for me, and to understand really why Jesus is so important to me and help me find answers to my prayers. The first time I read it I finished it in 13 days. And trust me I am not a fast reader. I think I have only read a handful of books in my life. But once I started reading it, I couldn't put it down. "A careful examination of this book may overwhelm the reader who relishes uncertainty, for little of that is left. It provides a powerful independent witness of the reality of Jesus Christ and his divine mission. The Book of Mormon restores plain and beautiful truths about the Gospel of Christ which have been obscured for centuries by the teachings of men. It proves that the heavens are not sealed, that truth and revelations yet remain for us to feast upon. And it indirectly confirms that the translator of this monumental ancient record, Joseph Smith, Jr., was indeed a prophet of the living God."
We can read The Book of Mormon, we can think about what we have read and then we can ask our Heavenly Father if it is true. The Holy Ghost can answer our prayers and let us know it is true by feelings of peace, joy, happiness, tranquility or love. I have received a witness many times. I invite all to do as I have done and use your faith and confidence in the Lord and ask him personally. Don't take my word for it, trust in him.
When we gain a testimony of these things we will have the desire to share it with other. It has helped me so much I decided at 24 to serve a two year mission in Chile. A mission is without pay; you actually pay for your own expenses. It is two years of no TV, beaches, parties, and no girls, nothing but the Lords work for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week teaching people about God and Jesus Christ, his gospel and his restored church. We helped people use the gospel of Jesus Christ to help them with their problems. I saw many people who received a testimony of these things, and saw their whole lives change. I prayed long and hard on the decision to serve a mission and I know that this is what God wanted me to do. I loved serving a mission, to serve God. I love missionary work. It is so great to see men and women come into the waters of baptism. And be able to see a change in them, and to see them walk in the light of Christ. I have had so many wonderful experiences.
I joined this church because it is true. God lives, he is our father and he love us. I know that Jesus Christ lives. He lives in me. He is my savior, me redeemer, my lord and my king. He is the only way we can return to live with out Heavenly Father. His sacrifice is real. I bare you my testimony that I know that God the Father and Jesus Christ visited Joseph Smith and that he was a Prophet of God, and that by the power of the Holy Ghost he translated The Book of Mormon. I know that The Book of Mormon is true, and that it is the word of God. I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only true and living church on this planet. This church is Christ's church. It is the same church that he established when he walked on the earth; established again in this dispensation. It has the same simple principles and ordinances; Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism by immersion for the remission of sins, and the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost. It is organized with the foundation of Apostles and Prophets. I know that Gordon B. Hinckley is a Prophet, seer, and revelator. I know that the Priesthood, to act with the power and authority and of God has been restored once again to this earth and that I hold it. I know that our Heavenly Father loves us, and wants us to return to him. I KNOW that all these things are TRUE because I HAVE PRAYED AND ASKED GOD IN THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST AND HAVE RECEIVED ANSWERS TO MY PRAYERS FROM THE HOLY GHOST.
May God bless you find the truthfulness of all things. I leave this in the name of his Son, and our savior Jesus Christ, Amen.
Thank you for reading my story. If you'd like to get in contact with me or if you have any question you can e-mail me: firstname.lastname@example.org