Mark Albright is the president of the Washington DC South mission and shares these missionary stories with Meridian Magazine.
If you want to share a missionary story, send it to President Albright by clicking on the “email author button” by the title of the article. Please note the names of new converts and investigators may be changed to maintain privacy.
Dear President Albright,
I was born into a Southern Baptist family, who lived in the Northern Appalachian area of Alabama. I went to a Baptist school and Maranatha High School. I continued my education at Pensacola Bible Institute, then Mercer University, and then to Southeastern Bible College. For six and a half years I majored in theology. I became an ordained Baptist preacher, and was interim pastor for various churches while attending Bible College. Eventually I began to experience doubt about the authenticity of the scriptures, and left religion in pursuit of other ventures.
In 1978 I was run down by a speeding trucker as I was leading a street march in Alabama. Then on May 26, 1979, I led a rally in Decatur, Alabama that ended in a shoot out. I survived an assassination attempt by gunshot and was nearly killed in a stabbing at the Federal Penitentiary in Atlanta.
After several additional arrests, convictions and prison terms, I started organizing white power heavy metal bands, and was often a speaker at their rallies and meetings. To make a long story short, I spent eight and a half years in different federal prisons on a variety of charges. My life was going in the wrong direction. I was bitter and unhappy. The one thing I had going for me was my vocation in automotive and tires. This made me an honest living and still does today.
About a year before my baptism in 2009, the Holy Spirit began to work on me. One day as I watched Fox News I listened to Glenn Beck and I was touched by the Spirit as he spoke. I later found out he was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I found a copy of The Book of Mormon that Elder Lund and Elder Olson had left me in 1996. I started to read it. I gave up on the “arm of flesh” and wept sorely.
I fell on my face and with tears I begged God to show me the right way in Jesus’ name. Heavenly Father heard and answered my prayer much faster than I expected. Within moments after my prayer, there was a knock at my door. There stood two missionaries sent by God to rescue me. These two missionaries had a powerful aura about them and bore name tags, Elder Kelly and Elder Heywood. These angelic messengers gave me a lesson and a little blue book — The Book of Mormon.
I made a covenant to do several things: to attend sacrament meeting, to pray to my Father in Heaven, and to sincerely read The Book of Mormon. This book has been a tool for me and I have read it every single day since then.
During my first sacrament meeting, I knew I had finally found the right place. I was home. At long last my search for the ultimate truth was fulfilled in the restored Gospel of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I could stop wasting away my life. I read about Lehi’s vision of the Iron Rod. I grasped that rod and I have never let it go.
When I read Alma 32, the Holy Spirit pierced my heart. I now had a firm belief that the restored Gospel was the gateway for the Plan of Salvation and repentance was the process that would heal my lifetime of rebellion. My eyes became a stream of tears. Elder Shelton and Elder Hollingsworth were very patient with me and answered all my questions.
One of the issues that caused me to have some doubt was the Joseph Smith story. But after the Elders explained the Sacred Grove experience, I felt the Spirit and knew it was true. I next questioned why the golden plates had been returned to the angel, so I prayed about it. The answer I received from the Lord was, “What about the Ark of the Covenant, or the tablets of the Ten Commandments? You accept where they are, then why not the gold plates?”
I then sought for permission to be baptized and after an interview with President James Tate, the President of the Alabama Birmingham Mission, I was baptized. At my confirmation a few days later, I could feel the bitterness, hatred and prejudices that had built up over a lifetime literally begin to melt away under the influence of the Lord’s Spirit.
I met Elder Kikuchi of the Seventy at a fireside in the Gardendale Ward. He shook my hand and told me I would be a testimony of conversion to all creeds and types of people. He explained to me how many Japanese people struggled with anti-American feelings during and after WWII. He told me the gospel would help me to overcome my prejudices.
The Spirit of God spoke to me through this General Authority. I went home and in gratitude fell on my knees in prayer. The cleansing of my heart and soul was drastic. My favorite music changed from heavy metal to the Tabernacle Choir. My favorite channel became BYU TV. My favorite book is now The Book of Mormon which I am starting to read for the eighth time.
I am now happier than I have ever been in my life. I have not missed church since my baptism, and I am currently serving as a ward missionary. I love sharing the gospel and explaining to others the miraculous change that has been wrought in my life.
After a life time of rebellion against God, I have finally found a home in Jesus Christ’s one true and living church. For years I struggled trying to make a difference in the world in all the wrong ways. But the day the missionaries knocked on my door, I realized I had failed miserably. I had been following the wrong path. Now, since becoming a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I know the Kingdom of God has been restored to the earth once more.