I would like to share with you the conversion story of Johnny Ortuno. He wife and daughter had been baptized three years earlier but he would never make the commitment, in spite of numerous visits from many missionaries over the years. He always had many difficult questions for us Hermanas (sister missionaries), and he refused to read the Book of Mormon.
He also had strong opinions against tithing, he opposed the construction of temples, he objected to fasting, and even disagreed with the need for a modern day prophet. In short, he believed that all organized religions had been corrupted by men. After visiting with him for several weeks, my companion and I decided that it was futile. He was not sincerely listening to us and would often end the lessons with a conflict over some doctrine or gospel principle. We decided to put him on the back burner because of his constant criticism of the church, and focus on other families.
Three months went by without any contact and one day, completely out of the blue, I felt a distinct impression to call Johnny and check on him. I didn’t have time that evening, but the next morning, during our planning session, I picked up the phone and called him. He sounded pleasantly surprised to hear from us again and gladly invited us to return to his home for a visit and lesson. As we walked into his home at our scheduled appointment, I immediately felt a different spirit present. The Holy Ghost was there during our pleasant conversation. As we started the lesson, he was very receptive and open to everything we were teaching. We wondered what had happened to him!
We asked what had made such a difference. He then explained to us that during our three month absence, he had been attending another Christian church and he felt terrible. He knew something was lacking. He missed how he felt when the missionaries had come into his home to teach him. He decided that he really wanted to know if our message was true. Had the true church really been restored to the earth with priesthood power? He prayed sincerely for the first time and asked God, “if this is thy true church, then please have the missionaries call me.”
The very next morning we called him. Indeed, the impression to call him had come to us at about the same time he had offered up his prayer. He knew that our calling the next day was an answer to his heartfelt prayer and consequently he was very open to learning more about the gospel. He soon accepted a baptismal date!
As we taught him the lessons again, he seemed excited and he agreed to pay tithing “with all my heart.” He looked forward to visiting the temple as soon as possible. He joined us in fasting the next fast Sunday, and he even began a regular study the Book of Mormon.
Johnny now holds the priesthood and takes his family to church every week. He has received a calling to serve as a ward missionary.
I smile every time I think of the change of heart that prepared him to accept the gospel. He now has a strong testimony and the Holy Ghost is with him and his family. After listening to many missionaries over the years, what it took for him to be convertred was a sincere personal prayer. It was something that he had to do all by himself. It had to come from his heart.
I know that God answers prayers and will use us to help others if we are humble and willing to work hard and follow the spiritual promptings that come to us from Heaven. We are so grateful that we called him when we did.
Breanna Downey Randall
Pueblo, New Mexico
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