When Chris Schoebinger was a senior in high school, he moved out of his home and into the home of, unbeknownst to him, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
As a result of repeatedly crossing paths with members of the Church, he subsequently joined the Church, but it wasn’t until 31 years later that he felt an urge to share the gospel with his mother, Jeanie Sadowsky.
Still, his mom’s acceptance of a baptismal invitation at nearly 80 years old? That came as an absolute shock.
The following excerpt has been edited for clarity.
Morgan Jones Pearson: We’ve noted you were having a rough time at home and ended up going and living with another family, but not too long ago, your mother got baptized? Can you tell me a little bit about that?
Chris Schoebinger: Yes. So, through the years after I joined the church, I went on a mission when I was 20 years old. And when I returned home, I was just excited to share the gospel. And, you know, I tried sharing the gospel many times with all different parts of my family, and no one seemed to be interested. And my mom was really the only person that said, “Chris, if it makes you happy, then I’m happy” when I joined the church.
And so, I remember one evening, we had the missionaries over for dinner. And I remember, an Elder Thomas from Nottingham, England, shared his testimony of the First Vision. And the Spirit flooded the room and said, “Chris, it’s time to invite your mom again.”
Now, it’s been 31 years since I was baptized. I had shared this message of the restored gospel several times with my mom—at least tried to start it—through the years, but nothing seemed to be happening. So anyway, to make a long story short, 31 years after I was baptized, God said it was time. And I knew my mom was coming out to Utah on Thanksgiving in a few weeks. And I had this prompting, and it was like, “Chris, you should invite the missionaries soon.” And so I said, OK, so I called the missionaries. But I didn’t feel right about dropping this on my mom when she came to visit me. So I called my mom and said something like, “So mom, you know how your grandson is preparing for a mission? … Well, I want him to see the missionaries in action, so he can get a sense of what it’s like.” I’m not sure if my mom was buying this completely, but I was going to go for it, so I said, “I was wondering if you’d be willing to help out? Steven could watch them teach you. And then you could ask any question you want. So Steven could just see a real Q&A in action, no big deal.” And she said, “Okay, I can help.” And I was thinking, “Wow, Heavenly Father, this is kind of working.”
So long story short, a few weeks later, my mom returned, and the full-time missionaries showed up, and it was Elder Thomas, the same missionary from England. And I have to say, my mom is a sucker for a good British accent. And also an Elder Estrada from the Philippines was there, and of course, my son Steven was ready to observe. And in fact, our whole family was in the family room. And the Spirit was so strong while the elders were teaching, and I thought, ‘Great, mission accomplished.’ And then from out of the blue, Elder Estrada—I think he’d been out for maybe a couple of weeks—asked my mom, “So now that you’ve heard our message, will you be baptized?” And I’m pretty sure I stopped breathing. It was dead silent. This was not part of my plan. This was not how the story was supposed to go. I was [thinking], “Elder, what are you thinking?” And then my Mom replied, “After all the lessons, if I’m feeling the way I’m feeling now, then yes, I will be baptized.” And my chair might have fallen over. True to her word, a few months later, we flew out to Oklahoma for her baptism. And she turns 80 next year, and she loves her ward and her ward family. And God is good at what He does.