The Best Buddy Who Changed My Life
Mostly at the insistence of my Mother, I was raised in a prominent local church in Hagerstown, Maryland.
However, at age twelve, I already was disturbed and troubled about the meaning of life.
My Sunday School teachers couldn't answer my questions, and my several abortive attempts to read the Bible left me even more confused and frustrated.
(It probably didn't help that I began with the Old Testament).
During the next several years, I even made inquiries into non-Christian religions and philosophies, all of which which fascinated me but none of which resolved my dilemma.
Finally, at the tender age of about fifteen, I came to the reluctant conclusion that either God really didn't exist, or, if He did, He just wasn't interested in or accessible to me.
And so it was that I wavered between agnosticism and outright atheism.
It was at that time in my life that I was both mystified and derisively amused by my new and younger next door neighbor, Ray A. Geyer.
He was enthusiastic about his recent ordination as an Aaronic Priesthood Deacon in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), and anxious to share the good news of the Restored Gospel with me.
After a series of discussions and sometimes contentious arguments with Ray, I ever so reluctantly sat down with two LDS Missionary Elders, and directly confronted them with my questions and concerns.
To my surprise and chagrin, Elder Wayne Platt Smith's humble spirit immediately touched my heart and soul.
Even more surprising to me, this mere high school graduate was able to readily answer all my questions, questions that had stumped all the learned and older ministers from so many other faiths.
Elder Smith warned me that neither he nor anyone else could convert me to Christ, and this was something that I had to determine for myself.
He also encouraged me to continue to meet with my parents' pastor and others, so that I could better sort out truth from fable for myself, and not be led astray in my quest for the meaning of life.
It was then that I began to read the Book of Mormon to find out for myself if all of this really could be true.
Subsequently, after reading the Book of Mormon and also the Bible (cover to cover), I knelt alone in my parents' living room on one hot Summer afternoon.
Confessing to God that I still had serious doubts about Him and feeling foolish in my awkward attempt to pray, I nevertheless boldly challenged Him to tell me if He was real and if the Book of Mormon was true.
The surprising, satisfying, and immediate reply from Him to my belligerent yet anxious prayer infused me with both joy and gratitude.
My parents thereafter stunned me with their hostile reaction to my newfound faith, refusing to give me permission to be baptized or to have any further contact with the LDS Church or its members.
It wasn't until six years and many missteps later, when I had reached the then legal age of consent (twenty-one) and was a student at Frostburg State College, that I at long last revisited my previous inquiry to God and finally was baptized (in Cumberland,MD).
Sadly, my family and college chums opposed my rediscovered faith and subsequent baptism, and many of them even went so far as to deride my change of heart.
This personal quest of mine began about fifty years ago.
Now, I am an adoptive and divorced parent, multiple times recovered cancer patient, and one who has been through my share of personal trials.
I promise you, in the name of Jesus Christ, that the Book of Mormon is the most correct of any book on Earth and contains the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ (in tandem with the Holy Bible) as well as the answer to your heartfelt prayers.
And so it is that all I am or ever hope to be I owe to the Book of Mormon, two young Missionary Elders, and a boyhood neighbor who took the time and cared enough to lead me to the meaning of life.
So, this is my response to those of you who have been curious about the swimming pool photo of me and my friend Ray, for whom my love and gratitude exceeds all others.
(Some of my favorite Book of Mormon passages are 2 Nephi 28:29 and 29:3-13. Also read in the Book of Mormon: Mosiah, Chapter 2, verse 4; and in the Doctrine & Covenants: Section 112, verse 11 and also Section 121, verses 41 & 42).
For a free copy of the Book of Mormon and/or the King James version of the Bible, call 1-888-537-2200, on any day or at any hour.