At the beginning of this month, Elder Neil L. Andersen shared on Facebook the incredible story of an LDS convert whose decision to remain faithful ended up converting his family.
If this story sounds familiar, it might be because this is the full version of the shorter story Elder Andersen shared during general conference.
As I mentioned in general conference, many members of the Church are baptized and live the gospel with little or no family support. We love these members, and we need to reach out to them and invite them into our family circle.
There are many who eventually get the family they so eagerly desire, often as a result of the good example shown by a single faithful member in a family. This is true for Brandon Caywood, a young man I briefly mentioned in my message in general conference.
Brandon grew up in Colorado, where he became friends with several LDS youth. These friends extended several invitations to Church meetings and activities, many of which he declined. Brandon noticed, however, that his reluctance to accept these invitations never affected his relationship with his friends.
Over time, Brandon agreed to go to Mutual. Then he went to Church dances and eventually started to attend early morning seminary. Once, as he was preparing a spiritual thought for his seminary class, he opened the Book of Mormon. As he read, he felt he needed to pray about whether this book and this religion were true.
He told me, “I sat in my room with my arms folded for what seemed like forever. I didn’t really know how to pray. Awkwardly, I began to speak to God for the first time ever. Immediately my nerves were calmed, and I felt peace in my heart.”
Not long after this, Brandon went to church and began visiting with the missionaries. It was around this time that Brandon learned that both his father and grandfather had been baptized when they were much younger but were no longer active in the Church.
Six years after he made LDS friends in middle school, Brandon was baptized. He said he owes his conversion to his friends’ persistence, love, and friendship.
Although it was a challenge for both Brandon and his family, he decided to serve a mission. Some miraculous things happened while Brandon was away. For one, Brandon’s father started attending church again. Brandon’s sister went with him. On the day Brandon returned from his mission, he was able to baptize his own sister. She was his last convert before he was released from his mission.
The story doesn’t end there. Five years after Brandon joined the Church, his mother also chose to be baptized. Later, Brandon’s grandfather received his endowment in the temple just a few months before he passed away.
The common thread I’ve noticed in Brandon’s story is the power of love and example. Because of the example of LDS youth in Brandon's life, his heart eventually softened and he honestly prayed about the restored gospel. And because of Brandon’s own righteous example, his family eventually went to their knees to get answers to their prayers, although it didn’t happen overnight.
I pray that we will all be righteous examples, especially to our youth. Think about them, welcome them, embrace them, and do everything you can to strengthen their love for the Savior.