Teaching by Example
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“Teaching by Example,” New Era, June 2004, 46

Teaching by Example

During my first year away from home, I roomed with a girl named Joanne [name has been changed]. She insisted that she did not believe that God existed. Our beliefs could not have been more different.

Everything I did amazed Joanne. She wondered how I could fast on Sundays and sit through hours of Church meetings, why I dressed modestly, why I studied my scriptures, and why I woke up early to attend early-morning institute classes. She asked me lots of questions, and we had many late-night discussions about my beliefs.

Joanne started to change. She started dressing more modestly whenever she went with me to a Church activity or out with my friends. She didn’t swear as much. She started attending activities with my singles ward. She talked about how welcome she felt and how kind my friends were. She wanted to know everything about their lives and our beliefs. She loved how we were able to have a great time without alcohol or drugs.

Joanne, however, still didn’t understand my faith in God. One night she suddenly spoke up and asked, “What would you do if someone came up to you with absolute proof that God does not exist?”

No one had ever asked me that before. I said, “No one could prove to me that God does not exist any more than I could prove to you that He does. That is what faith is for.” I told her that I feel strongly that my Father in Heaven is there and that I can never deny my faith. As I bore my testimony to her, I felt the calming spirit of the Holy Ghost come over me. I also shared some of my spiritual experiences with her and read her some scriptures.

About a week later Joanne asked if she could go with me to family home evening. I agreed but informed her that we were having a testimony meeting and that she might be uncomfortable. She insisted on attending. That night, Joanne listened intently as my friends and I bore our testimonies about our faith in Jesus Christ. When we talked about what life meant to us and talked about the sacrifice that Christ made for us, I saw that she recognized that we were speaking the truth. Her eyes filled with tears, which she quickly wiped away.

I wish I could say that this story ends with her baptism, but it doesn’t—at least not yet. Joanne never talked to me about that night. In fact, she avoided the subject of religion altogether for the rest of the year. However, I know I planted a seed in her heart by living my standards, bearing my testimony, and letting the Holy Ghost work.