My Second Baptism

“My Second Baptism,” Liahona, Sept. 1998, 8

My Second Baptism

I was born and reared in China and served as a soldier there. Later, while living in Taiwan, I learned about Jesus Christ and was baptized by a Protestant missionary from northern Europe. For the next 42 years, I was an active advocate of Christianity and a leader in my church.

Although I held to my Christian beliefs, over time I became disenchanted with my church and began searching elsewhere for the truth. So when two Latter-day Saint missionaries knocked on my door in September 1993, I was happy to let them in. Sister Nelson and Sister Shao explained the message of the Book of Mormon, and I accepted a copy of the book. But my mind was in turmoil because I had heard many attacks against this “Mormon” Church. The sisters spent two hours resolving my concerns.

On their next visit they invited me to attend services with them. I entered their rented building in Lungtan Taoyuan for the first time in late September. Among other things, I learned that they also believed in the Bible! This discovery sent me hurrying home between meetings to retrieve my scriptures.

The following Sunday the sisters came again, accompanied by two young men named Elder Roser and Elder Bearman. One of the first topics the elders discussed with me was that the Father and the Son had appeared to Joseph Smith in answer to his prayer about which church to join. We read much of the account aloud, including this verse:

“I was answered that I must join none of [the existing churches], for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: ‘they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof’” (JS—H 1:19).

These words resonated deep inside me, and the Spirit was very strong. I looked up from reading the passage and said simply, “It is true.”

The elders next taught me about the Apostasy, the Restoration of the Church, and the restoration of priesthood authority. But when they invited me to be baptized, I was shocked. I had been baptized many years before, also by immersion. Being baptized again seemed unnecessary; it felt like a betrayal of my former beliefs.

The elders made me promise to pray about the importance of being baptized by someone with authority. Then they left. Without my knowledge, they began to fast for me that very day, praying for me to understand the importance of being baptized by proper authority.

The elders were surprised and delighted when I announced at one of our next discussions that I wanted to be baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. My soul was filled with joy on that day. “God has answered my prayers,” I told them, “and I know it is God’s will for me to be baptized.” They excitedly began to plan for the ordinance to take place on 14 November 1993.

Going into the waters of baptism and being confirmed a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were beautiful and sublime experiences. When the events of the day were over, I tried to express to the elders how I felt. “I have walked with the Lord for more than 40 years,” I told them, “and now, today, I am finally a member of his Church!”

A happy baptismal day for Chen Jya Shen (center), seen with his daughter and full-time missionaries Elder Bearman (left) and Elder Roser. (Photograph courtesy of Michael J. Bearman.)