WHY I CHOSE TO BE A MORMON
I'm Wilford Akwasi Asare Adjei better known to my friends as Zion. I am a return missionary from South Africa Johannesburg Mission and a student of the University for Development studies. I am currently studying Bachelor of Commerce(Accounting) and hoping to join the Institute of Chartered of Accountants(Ghana). I am a salesman and a painter for Genaston Company Limited. I am also the founder of Ubuntu World and a member of Imagine You Can (IYC). I am a Young Adult of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I'm single and hoping to become a responsible father one day. I enjoy writing, reading, research, ice skating, soccer, and love any game that makes me think on my feet. Today, I write this piece to inform all my friends who are not of the same faith with me about a decision I took 10 years ago to enter into the waters of baptism. I know most of you have criticized me for taking or being a member of this sect. I do not write to condemn your beliefs but I write as a critical thinker and someone who will put reasons before emotions.
Since the time I grew old enough to wonder about the meaning of life, I've had a strong desire to find answers. Is God really there? Does He care about me? Is there more to mortality than being born , reacting to stimuli, and dying? I was taught by my parents that God is real and He loves me, but I wasn't willing to believe blindly. I didn't have a lot of interest in just pretending that God is real. I knew there might not be any definitive answers. It could all be relative. Life might only hold as much meaning as we each decide to impose. Then again, what if concrete truths are awaiting those willing to seek them? What if an actual God exists who has created everything for a reason? Either way, I wanted to explore the possibilities and discover as much as I could.
I had some reasons to suspect that God might exist. It was hard for me to imagine a universe as orderly as ours without an architect. Left to itself, it seemed to me that the cosmos should be a meaningless void: no matter, no energy, no space, no particles, no natural laws. Let alone vast system of stars and planets. Let alone the infinitesimal complexity of atoms and molecules. Let alone life and intelligent life. I also found it interesting that so many people throughout history had professed to see God or communicate with Him. In the scriptures, individuals testified that they had interacted with angels. Signs and wonders had supposedly followed certain ardent believers. Observers had documented the miracles that Christ performed. And although many of these witnesses were hated and even faced death for their testimonies, they did not back down. That didn't seem like the behavior of liars.
Close friends, family members seemed convinced that God was real based on personal experience. Many other friends and relatives felt likewise. None of this evidence really proved anything , but it motivated me to keep exploring my questions with an open mind. I wanted God to be real. I wanted life to have a meaning. I wanted to my existence to continue beyond this life. I wanted my loved ones to continue existing with me. But I didn't want to fool myself. I wanted to find the truth of the matter. This is where my religion became helpful. My mum and dad are converts to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. They both joined the church through LDS missionaries, accepted the message and got baptized. At church I always heard that God is living and real. My religion didn't talk about God as somebody who used to communicate with humankind thousands of years ago and had now become silent . He also wasn't discussed like a personage from a fairy tale who lived long ago and far away. I wasn't told I had to place all my trust in some specific preacher. My teachers and parents claimed that just as God spoke to prophets in the past , He still peaks to prophets of our day. They emphasizes that since God is really there and really cares about us, anyone with enough faith and sincerity could reach out to God and get answers. Anyone could learn for themselves that He exist.
The articles of Faith summarize the beliefs of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day saints. One of my favorites is the ninth: "We believe all that God has revealed , all that he does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God". I don't think a religion that views God as inaccessible could have motivated me even to try to believe in Him. If God had spoken to humankind for centuries, as described in the Bible, guiding people with both their immediate problems and their more far reaching spiritual issues, why would He stop? God either exist or He doesn't. He either interact with humankind or He doesn't. Would a perfect , all knowing Being change? Would He take a break? Biblically, God only stopped responding to nations and individuals when they turned away from Him. My religion assured me that the best way to learn of the reality of God is to ask Him directly. I had the same right to know for myself as any ancient figure in the Bible.
This idea appealed to me, partly because I had doubts. What if God were a myth? What if people had lied about miracles ? What if the Bible were fiction? What if believers were simply good people deluded into sincerely believing a comforting lie? Could religion exist only to offer consolation to the doomed citizens of uncaring universe? Any of this doubts seemed plausible. But if God told me directly that He lived, then I'd know with surety that I should learn more about Him. If I prolonged attempts to communicate with Him yielded nothing, I'd eventually have a pretty good reason to stop trying. I read many scriptures that if I asked I could receive, if I sough I could find, if I drew near to God He would draw near to me. And it made sense that we could only know God through revelation. Guessing or wishing or imagining would be useless. For humankind to know God with any confidence , He would have to reveal His existence to witnesses, like the prophets of the Bible. For an individual to fully trust those witnesses, he or she would need some kind of personal , recognizable confirmation that the testimonies were valid.
Answers didn't come all at once. I read the scriptures. I pondered what I read. And I prayed. I prayed sincerely, on my own, asking straightforward questions as if I were actually talking to somebody. At times I felt a confirming feeling in response to certain questions , especially when I asked God if He were real and if He loved me. These answers were felt both physically and emotionally. God has aided me in a lot of things over the past years and even presently. I came to Him in prayers with my problems and he answered. He has directed me in all the choice that i have made. He taught me that death is not end of existence. I have many experiences where I've been absolutely positive that communication with God was more than wishful thinking. I feel strongly that anyone who seeks God diligently and sincerely can achieve the same knowledge. Anyone who doubts me can experiment it and prove it to themselves.
I'm a Mormon because the way I was taught to communicate with God works. I'm not sure i could believe in a religion that offered less than a personal relationship with my Heavenly Father. We believe that the accounts in the Bible are true. Those records tell mostly of God's dealing with the descendants of Abraham in the Middle East thousands of years ago. W e also believe that God interacted with some of the ancient inhabitants of the Americas, and that some of those records were compiled into the Book of Mormon. This book of ancient scripture was translated by a modern prophet , Joseph Smith, less than two hundred years ago . Like the Bible, the Book of Mormon testifies of Christ and let us know some of what God expects from us. We believe the Book of Mormon was prepared for our day to serve as a confirming that the Bible is true and that Jesus Christ really is the Son of God and our savior. The book bears powerful witness of Christ and Christ and clarifies some of the doctrine that seem open to interpretation if one is relying solely on the Bible. It feels authentic. Most importantly, the Book ask its readers to ask God if it is true. I did . It is.
We believe that God is alive , that anyone can talk to Him, that He continues giving the world evidence of His existence through recent and living prophets and apostles, and that after years of prayer, study , personal revelation, I sincerely believe this is true. We place a huge emphasis on family and relationships. One of my favorite quotes from a modern prophet "No success in life can compensate for failure in the home". Think how much better our world would be if everyone believed and lived that simple statement! We value free will. Many of the commandments we follow help protect our ability to remain in control of our choices. It is a big part of why we avoid drugs, alcohol, tobacco. We even avoid some mildly addictive drinks like coffee and tea. It's also why we counseled to avoid excessive debt and gambling. We are searching for lasting happiness and we try to base our joy on meaningful relationships with friends and family and on a real relationship with God. We try to give service and treat others how we would want to be treated. Even if I didn't believe this was true, I would know from experience that the commandments we live help people avoid a lot of pitfalls that can interrupt happiness. To the aspect of polygamy, it has not been allowed in the church for a long time. In the early days of our church, God asked some of our members of the members to live that law for a time. Before anybody throw stones at us for it, all Christians, Jews, and Muslims revere prophets who had multiple wives, such as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I'm glad the law existed anciently , because it makes it seem a little less weird to me that some of the pioneers in our church felt God asked them to live like that for a time. These are a few basics WHY I'M A MORMON. CONTACT: 0547010674 or Visit www.mormon.org to accept a free copy of the Book of Mormon as a gift.
BELIEVE IN YOURSELF
For twenty-four or Eighteen months of our life we leave our family, friends and love once behind. We take the mantle that Peter, Paul, James and many disciples took upon themselves in our youthful age. We live a sinless life and Christ is the center of our ministry. We say what He wants us to say and do what He wants us to do. We teach, testify, baptize ,and proclaim repentance unto the people. We believe in wearing and wasting our life even to save a soul to come unto Christ. Along the way, we face depression, homesickness and even rejected by our love once. We see opportunities to our problems whilst on mission. Dogs chase us, threaten to be killed by strangers but in all we stand firm and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Millions of us have return from serving a full time mission and others for some reasons couldn't go or finish their mission. Both of us go through similar challenges that no one knows only the inner us. I'm pleased and humble to write this piece to mark my one year celebration as a returned missionary. When our mission is over, we feel relieved and feel like the burdens of the world are no more upon us. To me, that is a wrong feeling because the burden becomes more heavier even after mission. In this piece is my experience as a young missionary who returned home with a pair of torn trouser, scriptures, worn-out shoes and a brownish long sleeve shirt. This items I cherish so much. A dear friend by name Sister Quaye once said to me" Wilford, you've got to start believing in yourself". This simple but powerful words changed my thinking and all that I am doing even on my mission and after my mission.
When I returned from my mission, I felt like a fish out of water. I was a stranger in my home. Some traditions and lifestyle became so weird to me and had the eagerness to move on with life on a high speed. Little did I know after my mission the lord wanted me to be an active return missionary rather than a retired Mormon. Like any other return missionary, I battled with many life choices after mission but in all, the spirit guided me. The Lord has been my hope and strength. In Him, my past is redeemed, my present makes sense , and my future is secured. I am finished and done with low living, small plans, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed visions, worldly talking, cheap giving , and dwarfed goals. I no longer need to be noticed, have positions, promotions, plaudits or popularity. I don't have to be right, first, recognized, praised, regarded or rewarded. I now live by faith, lean on His presence, walk with patience , am uplifted by prayers and thoughts of Heaven. I cannot be bought , compromise , detoured, lured away, divided, or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of the adversary, negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity , or meander in the maze of mediocrity. Like the Lamanites of the Book of Mormon, who laid down their weapons and had no desire to slay or to murder, so was how my mission changed me. Mission taught me to believe in myself. I know how imperfect I am, I serve to perfect myself and my brothers, I serve so that I will be a better man, a man that my future wife will be proud of, a man that my mum will be happy she conceived and gave birth to, I serve so that my savior will see that this is the child He saved.
Napoleon Hill "Failure comes to those who indifferently allow themselves to become failure conscious". Many return missionaries fail to live the life they have always wished to live. They fail to realize their ambition and give up on their dreams as soon as they encounter their first obstacle. It's time for us to live beyond our failure. "Don't limit yourself and don't let others convince you that you are limited in what you can do. Believe in yourself and then live to reach your possibilities. You can achieve what you believe you can"(President Thomas S. Monson) I definitely believe that the most important thing to know as you go about searching for a job, getting education, or choosing a career, is to believe in yourself , not only for what you are now, but for what you have the power to become. Believe in yourself and together we can change the world since Christ has changed us and men changed by Christ can change the world. My deepest appreciation goes to my family, companions, and to my mission president who had so much believe in me that I can make a difference in the life of the wonderful people of Egoli (Johannesburg). To my dear friend Rachael Quaye, I say NGIYAKUTHANDA . To all others I say, NGIYABONGA KAKHULU.
"Believe in yourself. Believe in your capacity to do great and good things. Believe that no mountain is too high that you cannot climb. Believe that no storm is too great that you cannot weather it. You are not destined to be a scrub. You are a child of God, of infinite capacity. Believe that you can do it, whatever it is that you set your heart on. Opportunities will unfold and open before you. The skies will clear when they have been dark with portent"-Gordon B. Hinckley.