You’ve Always Known
March 2023

“You’ve Always Known,” Liahona, Feb. 2023.

Portraits of Faith

You’ve Always Known

I had received a testimony of the restored gospel, but I still had 10 months left in my contract as a minister for another church.

teacher with seminary students

Photograph by Leslie Nilsson

When I was about nine years old, I had a bad toothache. The pain became unbearable, but we had no money to go to a dentist. At the time, I lived with my angel grandmother in Mexico.

With tears in her eyes, she asked me, “Do you believe in Jesus and that He can help you?”

I told her I did. She asked me to go to the next room, kneel, and pray for a miracle. I poured out my heart in prayer, but nothing happened. Frustrated, I put as much pressure as I could on my jaw and offered a second prayer. Soon the pain was gone! When I ran to tell my grandmother, I found her on her knees, pleading with God to help her little grandson. I have never forgotten that scene, and I am thankful to my grandmother.

Other spiritual experiences followed.

When I turned 14, I moved to Texas, USA, to join my parents and siblings. I found a local church and began attending regularly. Because of my experiences with God, I wanted to share His name and gospel with everyone who would hear me. At age 15, I enrolled in ministry school to become a minister. For two years, I attended Bible classes before school, after school, and on weekends.

One morning at high school, I heard noise in the boys’ locker room. “You Mormon!” someone yelled. I had never heard that term before, but it sounded like an insult.

Later I found out that the person being yelled at was my good friend Derek.

“I am sorry you got called a Mormon,” I said.

Derek smiled and asked, “You don’t know what a Mormon is, do you?”

He told me it was a nickname for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“So, are you a Christian?” I asked.

When he said yes, I was happy to know that we shared faith in Jesus Christ.

“Have You Asked God?”

“Who are these Mormons,” I wondered, “and what do they believe?”

I went to the internet to find out. After a few minutes, I decided that my friend was not a Christian after all and that he was going to hell. So, I embarked on a mission to save him.

For the next two years, I read every book I could find about the Church, including the entire Book of Mormon—twice. I also met with Derek and the full-time missionaries to try to help them.

When I turned 17, I graduated from ministry school, was ordained a minister, and became the pastor of a small congregation in Texas. Two months after my ordination, I had another discussion with the missionaries.

One of them asked, “You’ve read the Book of Mormon, and you’ve taken every lesson we can offer, but have you asked God if our message is true? You would recognize an answer from Him, right?”

“Of course,” I proudly responded.

“The way I see it, it’s a win-win situation for you,” the missionary responded. “If you ask God if what your friend believes is true and God says no, then you have accomplished the mission for which you began this journey. But if He says our message is true, then think about how much you could gain.”

I had never thought about it like that. That night I knelt in my room after reading Moroni 10:3–5. My answer from God was simple but powerful. In a still, small voice, He answered me: “You’ve always known.”

A New Chapter in My Discipleship

Now that I had a testimony of the restored gospel, what about my ministry? I still had 10 months left in my contract as a minister. After much prayer and counseling with God, I decided to complete my service. For the next 10 months, I continued to share traditional Bible truths, but when possible I added the perspective of the restored gospel. People resonated with those truths, and my little flock grew from 20 to nearly 150.

After I had completed my contract, I was offered a permanent position, but I knew it was time to be baptized into the Church. It was time to begin a new chapter in my journey of discipleship.

When I told members of my family, they were not happy—at first. But three months after I joined the Church, I baptized my mother and two of my siblings. After serving a full-time mission in the Oklahoma Oklahoma City Mission, I baptized my younger sister.

If someone asks why I changed my religion, I always answer, “I didn’t change my religion—I am still a devout Christian. Rather, I simply strengthened my relationship with the Savior by becoming a baptized member of His Church—The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I know Him more personally and intimately now than before because of the Restoration of the gospel, the Book of Mormon, modern prophets, and the sacred ordinances of salvation and exaltation available in the temple.”

Today I have the privilege of working as a full-time seminary teacher. I am still dedicating my life to Jesus Christ and His gospel. And I am still telling anyone who will listen about the “good tidings of great joy” (Luke 2:10).