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May 3, 2014

Conversion story: John Bynum

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 11:12 pm
I was 24 years old and standing in the backyard of an older man I had just met about 7 days prior when he said to me, “John, I challenge you to take the discussions.”  At that time I had absolutely no idea what the discussions were.  I had never known a Mormon, nor did I know what the gospel was according to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  I grew up in Texas going to The Church of Christ fairly regularly until my parents divorced when I was 10.  After that I didn’t go regularly again until I started living with my dad when I was 14.  Then, once I went off to college, I stopped going completely.  I did have basic religious beliefs and did pray sometimes, but at that point I did not know if I would ever be a member of any particular church again.  Fortunately for me, I met this man and his wonderful family and they were faithful enough to share what has turned out to bring lots of happiness to my life.
The entire process started not long after I finished my second year of teaching and coaching high school in East Texas.  I thought that was the career I wanted to pursue in my life, but after two years of not having much money even though I enjoyed what I was doing, I decided to move to Houston and see what other opportunities were out there.  I interviewed for a job in marketing and met a young man who was the son of the man I referred to earlier.  We started working together and within about two months I had met his whole family.  There was so much happiness, peace, and love between him and his wife, his parents, his three sisters and their husbands, and all of their children.  They were all so accepting and friendly to me and to each other.  There was a spirit about them that was intriguing unlike anything I had ever felt, and when I was challenged to take the discussions, I said yes because I could feel it was the right thing for me to do.  Then, after I asked and he explained to me that the discussions take place with missionaries who teach the gospel during a number of different meetings, he promised me that I would not be obligated to continue if I ever felt like I wanted to stop, nor would I have to become a member of their church if I felt like I didn’t want to.  We would all still be friends regardless.
I am so grateful that I said yes.  The discussions were all about feeling the spirit, learning, and then deciding what was true as it was made clear to me by the spirit.  The missionaries taught the gospel according to the Bible and the Book of Mormon and we discussed many religious topics.  I could tell they truly believed what they were teaching.  Never once did any of them tell me what to believe, speak negatively about the beliefs or practices of other religions, or avoid questions I asked.  Once I started to realize that the Book of Mormon is true and that the teachings were correct, I had to decide if I wanted to make the changes in my life that would be necessary for me to live in accordance with the beliefs of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  I had been using tobacco for many years, enjoyed gambling fairly often on sports, and preferred to spend my Sundays relaxing and watching sports rather than going to church and participating in religious activities.  Fortunately I didn’t let those things stop me from getting on a more righteous path because I could not ignore what I had come to know was true.
Since my baptism, life has not always been easy.  I’ve made some bad decisions that have led to troubled times and/or losses.  As has been said many times, the school of hard knocks can be very costly (and not just financially).  Now that I’ve lived more righteously for several years, life is so much better for me and my family.  I have a wonderful wife and three fantastic kids with lots of love between us.  All of our lives are better because of our active membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  I know Heavenly Father knows me and that this gospel is true.  Even in difficult times (our 15 year old son is currently battling cancer), we feel so blessed and can see Heavenly Father’s love and guidance in our lives.  It’s amazing how wonderful life can be if we just make good choices, rely on the Atonement, live with gratitude and love, and show our faith with our actions.  I’m so thankful for finding so much more, or really for what found me, when really all I was looking for was a new career.

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