“The Gospel’s True, Julio,” Ensign, Aug. 1998, 59–60
My wife and I had always wanted to be effective member missionaries, but we didn’t know how to proceed. One Sunday we attended a sacrament meeting that focused on missionary work, and we were deeply impressed by the message. That evening and the next morning we prayed fervently that we would be able to find someone with whom we could share the gospel.
I was stationed at the time at Fairchild Air Force Base in Washington. On Monday I was introduced to a new airman in our squadron, Julio Reyes, and we were assigned to work together for the day. No sooner had Julio and I been dropped off at our post than he turned to me and said, “I hear you’re a Mormon. Why don’t you tell me about your church.” For the next eight hours we discussed the gospel, the Restoration, and the Book of Mormon. By the end of our shift, Julio had committed to taking the missionary discussions in our home.
Julio had been raised in a faithful Christian home and had considered entering the priesthood upon his discharge from the service. He had an intense interest in religion. During the first three discussions, everything went well. He read the Book of Mormon faithfully and came prepared with thoughtful questions. He and I continued our conversations at work, and I could tell he was finding answers to questions he had wondered about for years.
His mood shifted dramatically, however, during the fourth discussion. Julio argued with the missionaries on every point until the missionaries decided to end the discussion and leave. I was shocked by this unexpected turn of events and prayed that Julio would be blessed with understanding.
The next day at work I asked Julio what had happened to make him so angry during the missionary discussion. His eyes immediately began to tear up. With a quivering voice, he said, “All my life I have known that I needed to be rebaptized. I even went to several priests and asked them if I could be baptized again, but they said it wasn’t necessary. Now you have told me why I should.”
“So, what’s the problem?”
He lowered his head and sighed. “If I accept what I now know to be true, I will give up everything I have worked for to this point in my life and destroy my parents’ dream of my entering the priesthood. I may not even be able to see my family again.”
I was at a loss how to help him. All I could do was put my arm around him and say softly, “The gospel’s true, Julio. What are you going to do?”
A few weeks later, Julio was baptized into the Church, and it did cause a strain in his relationship with his family. Unfortunately, within a few weeks of his baptism, Julio was transferred to Korea. Since he was new in the Church, my wife and I were concerned about his leaving behind his supportive friends, but we hoped the Saints in Korea would pick up where we left off in fellowshipping him.
About two months after his departure, my shift supervisor came to me one day and told me I was being transferred to Korea and was to leave immediately. In shock I argued that this could not be possible because a tour in Korea required more months than I had left in the service. He explained that my orders had actually come six months earlier but somehow had been lost until now. As I later pondered the events of those six months, I realized that had I gone to Korea when I was supposed to, I never would have met Julio.
Since I was given such short notice for my departure, I was unable to notify Julio that I was coming to Korea. When I arrived, I took a bus to the base where he was stationed and went to his barracks. When he opened his door, he wrapped his arms around me and shouted, “Where have you been? I have been praying you would come for the last two months!”
Although stationed miles apart, Julio and I spent a great deal of time together talking about the gospel. One of his prime concerns centered on whether after his discharge, at his age, he should serve a mission or go home and find a wife. For months his decision bounced between a mission and marriage.
One weekend we had the privilege of attending an area conference in Seoul. We were fortunate to stay in the same place as the visiting General Authorities. On the last day of their visit, Julio and I were waiting in a crowd for transportation to the final conference session when I saw President Spencer W. Kimball gently making his way through the crowd. He seemed to be coming directly toward us. President Kimball stopped in front of Julio, looked him squarely in the eye, pressed his finger into Julio’s chest, and said, “You need to go on a mission to your people!” Then, without another word, he turned on his heel and was gone. Within a few months of his discharge, Julio received a mission call to Mexico.
When I think back to the night my wife and I prayed to be effective member missionaries, I had no idea then of the blessings that would flow into so many lives.