After searching for me high and low, my mom once found me arguing with the Anglican (Church of England) priest after Sunday School. I was 8. Even though my parents only attended church sporadically for a year simply because we lived on the opposite corner to a Methodist church when I was twelve, and then much later became serious evangelicals when I was a father of two children, I always found a church to attend. (We had lived in 18 different places by the time I was seventeen.)

I subscribed to the Youth For Christ magazine when I was eleven and received and read it from cover to cover  for two years. From the age of thirteen to sixteen, I didn’t attend church but prayed regularly, then I went and got myself confirmed in a Methodist church and attended for a year. When I was seventeen I finished school and was conscripted into the army, so apart from army church some Sundays, I stopped attending church but still prayed and believed.

Then I got married and got busy and moved around until, at the age of 29, I was “led to the Lord” and committed my life to Jesus on my knees in the parking lot of a life insurance company I was selling for, started attending church, and got serious. We sold everything we had and moved to my parents’ house in another city to serve God. I attended Bible College, got my degree, and became a pastor, but I left when I was disillusioned by the politics, financial motivation, ego driven choices, manipulation of the doctrine of demon possession (A friend of mine committed suicide because of it and I found his body) and the misapplication of the Bible, in my opinion, that I found in the particular evangelical church I was involved in.

My wife had an affair and divorced me when I was 32, and I got remarried at 33, this time to a wonderful Methodist woman to whom I am still very happily married to the most Christlike person I have ever known. We started our own business when I was 34 and I am  still self employed. We tried other churches, but couldn’t find one we were comfortable in.

I started trying out alternatives: Theosophy, Christian Science, Buddhism, you name it. I joined the Freemasons. I read large parts of the Bhagavad Gita and the Koran. I tried sorts of spiritual and New Age pursuits. I was looking for people who “walked their talk,” whose religion and beliefs were grounded and worked in the real world, and whose values I shared. I met some wonderful people, but I couldn’t find a spiritual home.

We immigrated to Canada. I was now 46. We tried some Christian churches here and couldn’t find one we felt comfortable in. There were some good, godly people attending them, but there seemed to be too much of show and ceremony for us, limited real respect for God and a lot of thinly veiled Liberation Theology and moral relativism, situational ethics, and a leaning towards socialism and entertainment. So I drifted. I still believed in God and prayed, and my wife believed and prayed. We watched church on TV sometimes – she more than I. I became the Master of the local Masonic Lodge but finally left, disappointed.

The coal that falls away from the fire dies.

Then I listened to Sam Harris, the atheist, speaking about his book on CBC radio, read it, followed that with Richard Dawkins’ and most of Christopher Hitchens’ books, and became a committed and outspoken atheist.

One day I sat thinking that I could choose to believe in God or not. There was, I thought, no proof that He existed or that He didn’t exist. My wife still believed. I had no faith left, but I could start with the HOPE there was a God. It’s really hard to be an atheist after you’re been a sold-out Christian, believe me.

We had Mormon friends whom we really respected and liked and trusted, and they never pushed us, just patiently and kindly answered my barrage of questions and challenges. I started thinking of all the Mormons I had met in my life in business, and fortunately, they had all been great people with an excellent work ethic and high standards. (We’re not all perfect – after all, they accepted ME.)

I researched The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) for two years on my own, without talking to missionaries, and read the book, The Mormon People by Matthew Bowman. My wife had health problems at the time, so I started attending our local Mormon church on my own. The men and boys wore white shirts and ties and suits. The ladies and girls were demurely, decently dressed, and while there were some wealthy people in the congregation, I saw no flashy cars in the parking lot.

I was extremely skeptical and looking for proof that the people attending were a bunch of hypocrites that belonged to this Mormon cult. I looked for proof of all the misinformation I had read about Mormons on the Internet – nothing. I found nothing weird, and everyone was very sincere. My wife started attending with me, and although it was strange to us, we liked it and started getting to know the Saints.

We were amazed to find that nobody got paid, that after serving as Bishop of a ward (congregation) for 4 or more years, the Bishop would just go back and sit in the pews with the rest of us.  Nobody bragged about the work they did in the church, there was no political hierarchy or manipulation, the humble Members worked hard to serve Christ and each other, and no pressure was ever put on us. There was no criticizing of other churches, either. The men are strong, responsible, and principled, and they look after their families. Two and a half years ago, we joined the church and were baptized. I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop; it never did. We were loved and included and accepted from Day One.

A year later we attended the temple for the first time, then we were sealed in the temple. Within a year and a half my level of faith in God had returned to the previous high. By this time I was teaching the 12 year old boys Sunday school. Two weeks ago, we received our Patriarchal Blessing, which was amazing. the Book of Mormon is perfectly aligned with the Bible, and the systems work perfectly all the way to the top. We share the Mormon values. I have great respect for the men and women of our church, and it only grows as I get to know them better and understand more.

We feel at home. The better we get to know the men and women and children in the church, the more we admire them. The missionaries, both young and old, make a huge sacrifice, as do their families, and you will never hear them complaining. Everything the church does is high quality, professional, and well organized. They look after each other as well as non-members.

I’m now 63, and I know that this is the restored church of Christ, that the Book of Mormon is another scripture from God, that our President Monson is a Prophet of God, as was Joseph Smith, and that God led us to this church. I am eternally grateful to Him and to my Mormon family. By our fruits we will be known.

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. And I will be found of you, saith the LORD: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the LORD; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive.” Jeremiah 29: 11-14

I still have a lot of learn about our church and a lot of growing to do,  but let me know if you would like to know more, or visit our church websites here and here. Or both. No pressure. Perhaps this is God reaching out to you, as He did to me. He loves all people He and cares deeply about you.

Robin Elliott