The following is an excerpt from Converted. In the book, Lee Nobleman details his exposure to religion in his younger years—growing up Episcopalian, attending a private Catholic school, and learning from Jewish relatives—as well as how he became a Jehovah's Witness. Then he relates the following account:
One afternoon there was a knock on my front door. When I opened it, I discovered a pair of LDS missionaries with broad smiles standing on my doorstep. I invited them in, but it was not what I would call a cordial meeting. They taught, and I firmly refuted their teachings. They left, never to return. In retrospect, I feel bad about what occurred. But they had knocked on the door of a committed Witness. I certainly wasn’t going to miss an opportunity to teach and testify to my young, misinformed friends.
A few months later there was another knock on the door. This time I was greeted by sisters, rather than elders. I discovered that I lived in an apartment that had apparently been previously occupied by a less-active Latter-day Saint family, and the missionaries were out looking for members who had “gone off the grid,” so to speak. Hence the two visits in such a short window of time.
As with the elders, I invited the sister missionaries in. I suppose I was a bit better behaved this time—but only just. Once again, we spoke, we argued, and we were largely unproductive. However, they came back—and we became friends. And, over time, I found myself developing respect for the missionaries and also for the members of the LDS Church. And, even though I felt their knowledge of the Bible was sorely lacking, I could not deny the goodness of the people I had met.
By way of confession, I have to admit that I allowed them into my home—and spent months discussing their religion—not because I was looking for something I felt I was lacking, but really for two other reasons. First, I thought I could convert them, and I was up for the challenge. (Clearly, they were thinking the same thing about me!) Second, Jehovah’s Witness literature often provides information for its members on other religions; but there was almost nothing in the literature about the Mormons. That struck me as strange—very strange—and so I was curious to know a bit more about what Mormons believe.
When a Challenge to Be Baptized Turned Into a Fiasco
You often hear of missionaries who challenge their investigators to be baptized the very first time they meet. This wasn’t the approach the missionaries used with me. On the contrary, they took things very slowly with me. We moved methodically from one discussion to the next, and I agreed with very little of what they shared. After months of them teaching and me disagreeing, one of the sisters asked me if I would “follow the example set by Jesus and be baptized.” I burst out laughing because the question was absurd—so absurd, I thought it was a joke! I kept laughing for some time until I realized I was the only one laughing. Sister Bonny, who had asked the question, was now openly crying.
I quickly apologized and told the sisters that, while I greatly respected them, after talking to them for months I was more certain than ever that I had the truth. Their efforts to teach me had only convinced me more that my Church was true and theirs was not. In addition, how could I be baptized when we agreed on nothing! Sister Bonny excused herself and ran to the bathroom. Her companion quickly followed after but first took the time to tell me that I was a “jerk.” While there was very little the sisters had taught me that I could agree with, unfortunately, they were right about this—I was a jerk!
Feeling the Spirit for the First Time
After what seemed like an eternity, the two sister missionaries came out of the bathroom, gathered their things, and prepared to leave. But just prior to leaving, Sister Bonny turned to me and bore her testimony. Her companion did likewise. I was absolutely overwhelmed! I had been active in the Witness faith for some 12 years, but I can honestly say that this was the first time I could remember ever feeling the Spirit.
It came with such power and certainty that I could not dismiss it. Indeed, I was in awe at the force and certainty of the missionaries’ testimonies. And yet, how could these young women be so sure when they struggled so much to support from the Bible the most basic of LDS doctrines? It made no sense to me. And yet, oddly enough, I was no longer sure I had all of the answers. Thirty minutes ago I knew that I was right and that they were totally wrong. Now I stood in front of two 22-year-old girls, and I knew they knew more than I did.
Read more inspiring stories from Converted: True Mormon Conversions Stories from 15 Religions.
Before Alonzo Gaskill was a popular BYU professor and best-selling author, he was an altar boy in the Greek Orthodox Church. Discover his journey firsthand as he and 14 others share their profound stories of conversion to the restored gospel from very different religious backgrounds—from Amish to Atheist and Muslim to Hindu. These inspiring true stories give you a new perspective on your faith.