“There Are No Coincidences,” Ensign, January 2020
Ever since joining the Church, I no longer believe in coincidences. I now look back and see that it was the hand of God in my life that led me to the restored gospel and to my baptism.
I grew up attending a non-denominational Korean church that taught me good morals and beautiful principles I still carry with me to this day. However, there were so many parts that didn’t make sense to me. I had questions like, “What exactly happens to us when we die?” “What happens to the people who don’t hear the gospel?” “Why are there so many perplexing views within this church? Who is right?” But I always felt like my concerns were brushed under the rug, and I was told I would find answers when I arrived in heaven.
During my early college years, I took some time off from that church and stepped into the modeling industry full-time. I traveled, brushed shoulders with celebrities, and got invited to exclusive parties and venues. I lived a life that people dream of. Yet something was missing. I was desperately searching for happiness and trying to fill a void that alcohol, partying, and modeling could not. I was miserable. Finally, I decided to give God one last chance.
I started attending a local Christian church and diving into the Bible. I felt that I was moving toward light but that I wasn’t quite there yet. That month, on a whim, I also decided to stop drinking alcohol completely. I felt that it would draw me closer to God.
Soon after, I went on a date with a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I remember leaving the date very intrigued about his church. He had told me that he believed there was a modern-day prophet and apostles, and I wanted to learn more. I combed the internet, obsessively looking for more information. I was intrigued by how uniform the Church was, no matter the location, and how organized it seemed. It mirrored Jesus Christ’s Church in the early New Testament days. Yet, there was so much opposition against it. I wondered if I was, in fact, considering joining a cult. But I watched countless YouTube videos about the gospel and felt a sense of peace about what I was discovering. I reached out on the Church website now known as ComeUntoChrist.org and decided to meet with the missionaries.
When missionaries showed up at my apartment and started teaching me about the First Vision, I thought I had made a mistake. They taught me about Joseph Smith and about priesthood keys being restored to the earth. I was upset at first. How could a young, unlearned boy be visited by Christ and Heavenly Father? How could anyone believe him? It felt like I was being taught blasphemy.
I was waiting for the missionaries to finish teaching so I could tell them I didn’t want to meet again. But then we chatted a bit, and I found out that one of them was half Korean, just like me. I felt that by sending this particular missionary to teach me, Heavenly Father was showing me that He was aware of me and that no small detail was overlooked. When the missionaries asked me to pray, I felt for the first time in a very long time that I was heard. I knew in that moment I had to continue learning more about the gospel. And four months later, I got baptized.
After getting baptized, I still had many questions. In fact, I think a whole new set of doubts and questions flooded in the week after I got baptized. However, I felt a strong reassurance that I had powerful tools to use to obtain those answers in time. Whenever I would experience promptings or strong answers to prayers, I recorded them all in a journal. I would go back to that journal when I would doubt, and those writings helped me hold on to what I knew to be true.
The First Vision was one of the most difficult parts of the restored gospel for me to accept initially. I struggled to believe it. But as my testimony has increased, I have come to understand and believe that the First Vision is true. Joseph Smith humbled himself and simply asked Heavenly Father a question after being guided by a scripture. I felt a connection to Joseph Smith because we both have inquisitive minds. I had been ashamed of all the questions I asked while growing up, but I was encouraged to ask questions when I was learning about the Church. My institute teacher told me to never be ashamed of my inquisitive mind because questions lead to truth and I’m a seeker of truth.
Looking back, I now see that I was prepared to find the restored gospel when I did. At times I’ve wondered why I wasn’t introduced to the Church earlier, but I know that Heavenly Father was preparing me since I was young. In my eyes, all of these small incidents were not coincidences. It was the hand of God guiding me. But He will never force Himself into our lives—He wants us to come to Him.
I believe that the restored gospel is powerful and changes lives. Yes, there are parts of the gospel that I am still trying to find answers to. But I strongly believe that this is Jesus Christ’s true restored Church and that everything that falls under that umbrella is true, including the First Vision. I’m so grateful that Joseph Smith got on his knees to ask Heavenly Father such a sweet, innocent question that ignited the Restoration—and that my small questions in prayer also led to life-transforming revelations. I truly believe that the “coincidences” that happen in our lives when we are doing our best to follow Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are anything but coincidences. This is why I love the restored gospel.