Finding a Testimony Again
During his years of fighting against the Church, Smith and his first wife divorced. But by 2014, Smith was happily Catholic, happily living in a historic district in Dallas, Texas, and happily remarried.
That year his wife, Susan, had been offered a promotion in Baltimore if she made it through the vetting process. With Smith working as a managing attorney in Texas, the prospect of a promotion that would take his wife so far away from him was bittersweet.
He called up his good friend Mike, asking him to pray for them and to put Susan’s name in the temple. As a joke, Smith added, “However, Mike, if God really wants me to be LDS again, He will send her to Salt Lake.”
Smith continues: “There wasn’t a position open in Salt Lake, so I felt pretty comfortable saying that. But the very next day the person in Salt Lake retires and my wife’s paperwork is transferred from Baltimore to Salt Lake, and she is hired with no vetting. I called Mike and said, ‘You are not going to believe this. Susan is going to Salt Lake!’ And he said, ‘Well, you know what you told God.’” When Smith explained that he had only been joking, Mike quipped, “God wasn’t.”
After this exchange, Smith felt shaken and reawakened to the possibility of returning to the Church. “I hit my knees and said, ‘Okay, God. You want me to be LDS again? Fine, but you’ve got to do your part. I don’t have a testimony, and I have these issues that I need answers to.’” After listing all his questions and doubts, Smith watched in awe during the following days.
He recalls, “One by one, I would wake up in the middle of the night with an answer—every single night. One of my issues was [the lack of] archaeological evidence of the Book of Mormon. [One night] God said to me, ‘Does the fact that you can walk the streets of Jerusalem make the Bible true?’ And I said, ‘No.’ He said, ‘But what if somebody uncovered a sign tomorrow that said, ‘Welcome to Zarahemla, population 420’? What would that do to the Book of Mormon?’ And I said, ‘Then it would make it true.’ But He said, ‘Then where would be your faith?’”
Still, Smith had other questions about Joseph Smith’s life, treasure seeking, polygamy, and other difficult topics in Church history.
These issues were addressed as well. “One night,” Smith recalls, “God said, ‘Okay, Mr. Attorney, if you are so smart, who would you choose to be a prophet? You, who doesn’t believe anything? A doctor who needs proof? I happened to choose a young boy who could accept the impossible, who could dream the unimaginable. That’s the kind of person who was needed to be able to accept and to believe the visions he was seeing and act on the voices he was hearing. Would you have? You have [spent] 26 years fighting it.’”
These answers humbled Smith, opening his eyes to the fact that no matter how much he searched, researched, and debated online, these answers could come only from his Heavenly Father.
One by one, his questions fell away until, on March 16, 2015, he awoke with his testimony alive and strong. “In my mind, I could see the Lord, and He walks up to me and says, ‘Okay, I have kept your testimony warm and safe. This time take care of it.’” Smith recalls the Lord cupping His hands around the testimony and placing it on Smith’s heart. “He held it like a living thing when He gave it back to me. [And I realized that] it is a living thing, and if you don’t feed it and nourish it and nurture it, it will die.”
Smith returned to the same stake president he had met with in 2009, asking to be re-baptized, knowing he would face a Church hearing. “But the difference is, this time, because I had my testimony back, I was willing to do whatever it takes,” Smith says. “It’s cool when you know you have to have a Church court but everyone is rooting for you.”
Less than a week after his Church court, Smith was once again baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Meeting President Uchtdorf
Before his baptism, while he was visiting his wife in Salt Lake City during general conference and Easter weekend, Smith had a strong prompting: he needed to move to Salt Lake City. The only problem was that Susan was a born-and-raised Texan, and Smith didn’t know how she would respond to the news.
When Smith broached the topic, Susan admitted, “I haven’t known how to break this to you, but I want to live here from now on. I don’t want to go back to Texas.” But there was still another problem: their historic house in Dallas, built in 1929, was riddled with foundation problems and nearly every other problem you can imagine—it was virtually unsellable. Undaunted, Susan responded, “We’ll think of something. If the Lord wants you here, something will happen.”
Soon thereafter, Smith received a knock on his door. A complete stranger offered to buy his house for more than its value. Even after Smith explained the foundation problems, the man insisted on buying the house. Yet, on a later trip to Dallas, when Smith returned to his old home, he learned that the buyer of the house had disappeared and the house was in foreclosure. For the Smiths, the sale of the home was a sign and a miracle.
“When the Lord wants you someplace, He wants you someplace,” Smith affirms. It was in 2016 that he received the phone call from then-President Dieter F. Uchtdorf and an invitation to meet the apostle in person. During their meeting, President Uchtdorf asked for permission to relate Smith’s story in the priesthood session of the October 2016 general conference.
In his talk, titled “Learning from Alma and Amulek,” President Uchtdorf said, “I was touched by the journey of one brother who asked himself, ‘When the Lord calls, will I hear?’ I will call this fine brother David.” After detailing Smith’s unusual story of reconversion, President Uchtdorf added, “I am happy to report that this past summer, David’s blessings were restored to him. He is again fully participating in the Church and serving as a Gospel Doctrine teacher in his ward. He takes every opportunity to speak to others about his transformation, to heal the damage he caused, and to bear testimony of the gospel and the Church of Jesus Christ.”
Shortly after sharing this incredible story, President Uchtdorf ordained Smith a high priest. Before the ordination, he asked if he could speak with Smith and his wife. While Smith was expecting some form of apostolic guidance, he was surprised when President Uchtdorf took 30 minutes to talk to Susan, who wasn’t a member of the Church. “He told her, ‘Bring what you have, and we’ll see if we can add to it. And I know that your husband wants to be sealed to you. We’ll save a place for you in the temple,’” Smith remembers.
“The next night, my wife says, ‘I’m ready for the discussions.’” On September 23, 2017, Susan was baptized a member of the Church.
While Smith’s story has inspired those close to him, it has also touched thousands across the world in immeasurable ways.
The day after President Uchtdorf related Smith’s story over the pulpit, Smith walked past a family on Temple Square who were animatedly discussing the talk. “An older gentleman, I’m assuming it was the father, said, ‘You heard President Uchtdorf’s talk. Anybody can come back to the Church, even if they’ve been gone for a long time. There’s still hope; there’s still prayer. It happens.’ And the younger man said, ‘How do we know he didn’t just make that story up?’” Smith stopped and interrupted the conversation by introducing himself.
“He didn’t make it up,” he explained. “I’m the guy he talked about.”
Even before the October 2016 priesthood session of general conference, Smith’s story had a way of reaching those who needed to hear it. On April Fool’s Day 2016, he received a call from a sister missionary asking if Smith had just logged in to mormon.org requesting answers to his questions. Smith was out of town, his laptop hundreds of miles away. There was no way he could have logged in.
But the sister kept insisting that she could see that Smith had logged in and requested to talk with a missionary. She could quote all his information. She could see the conversation. But still, Smith knew nothing about it.
Confused and a bit flustered, the sister missionary asked if Smith knew about the Church. “I said, ‘Well, let me tell you a little story,’” Smith says. “I told her my story, and she began to cry. She said, ‘I am at the MTC. I was considering leaving my mission. I am having a testimony problem. Your story has restored my testimony. I am going back on my mission.’”
A year later, at a gun show, Smith struck up a conversation with another Texan about their home state when the discussion turned to the gospel. Smith told the man, with a laugh, “I’m a member of the Church. In fact, if you listened to President Uchtdorf’s talk, you’ve heard about me.”
The man suddenly became serious and quiet. He pulled Smith aside, explaining that he had been on the cusp of leaving the Church when he heard that very same talk and recommitted himself to living the gospel. As the two talked more about their lives and backgrounds, the young man discovered yet another way he knew Dusty Smith: In 2009, he happened to knock on Smith’s door as a missionary—and healed him with a blessing.