From Critic to Convert
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“From Critic to Convert,” Ensign, Sept. 1982, 29

From Critic to Convert

A young lady I met at a Saturday evening dance in Belfast, Northern Ireland, was my first contact with the LDS church. We made a date for the following evening—Sunday—and I attended my first meeting of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Because of my religious upbringing, however, and my activities in two Protestant faiths, I was not very responsive to the Latter-day Saints.

Indeed, in a friendly way, I heckled the elders as they held street meetings in the city, and I argued with them in regard to the validity of Joseph Smith as a prophet. Perhaps as a result of my interest in the young lady, I continued to attend LDS church meetings and social activities, but I continued to stubbornly oppose the claim that Joseph Smith had been given divine authority.

And then it happened! One evening at sacrament meeting a young elder who arrived in the mission field just that morning was called on to bear his testimony. He looked a little unkempt and travel-worn. He spoke English with a German accent, and as he stood to bear his testimony, I thought he was the most unlikely ambassador the Church could possibly have appointed.

Simply and humbly he told “The Joseph Smith Story,” and as the tears rolled down his cheeks I unashamedly believed him as my tears joined with his. Shortly thereafter I was baptized in Helens Bay in Belfast Lough.

  • Joseph William Darling, a retired accountant, is patriarch in the Crawley England Stake.

Illustrated by G. Allen Garns