I was blessed by Heavenly Father to be born in Japan and adopted by an Irish-American family and have lived in California all my life. I was raised and brought up Roman Catholic and went to catechism. Even as a child, I wasn’t comfortable as a Catholic. Religion as it was taught to me made me fearful enough that I would even get sick in church. My cousin and Aunt were Mormons, but taught me nothing about their faith. Later in my life, I left Catholicism and went into spiritualism. But I was very worried in the beginning about leaving Catholicism, afraid to betray the faith of my father. I didn’t launch out on my religious quest, until he said it was all right. I had close friends who were Mormon, and they warned me of the dangers of spiritualism. Instead of investigating their religion more closely, I became a born-again Christian.
I got saved and accepted the Lord as my personal Lord and Savior. I felt the Lord’s spirit come into me, which brought me joy and peace. I had struggled with a learning disability, and when I became born again, I felt the Lord go into me and give me a new mind and heart. I had no desire to drink, smoke, party, or do anything like I use to do. I knew that I was saved by God’s amazing grace by faith alone, and I knew where I was going when I died.
I began to journey through various Protestant faiths. I learned much from these faiths — about heaven, hell, and evangelizing from the Baptist Fundamentalist Church; about Martin Luther’s reforming principles and about reverent worship in the Lutheran Church; how to be humble and wait for God’s will to be done in the Southern Baptist Church; about the charismatic gifts in the Pentecostal Church; about prophets and personal revelation in the William Branham Group; about keeping the commandments and keeping the Sabbath day holy in the Seventh Day Adventist Church. I learned from various restorationist groups that the truth had been lost and the gospel had to be restored. These are not the only churches I attended and investigated. I also read many, many books on various religions.
In the process, the Lord taught me to accept other scriptures and writings in addition to the Bible. He prepared me to accept modern scripture through a study of the Apocrypha and lost books of the Bible. But I also learned from this journey to be anti-Mormon.
Through the anti-cult movements, I became an anti-Mormon critic. I’ve read every anti-Mormon book. I was a hundred percent involved in passing out anti-Mormon literature and going to my Mormon friends to preach to them that they were going to hell. I pushed aside all inner feelings of my heart. I was taught that the Bible said the heart is deceitful. I went to ex-Mormon seminars. I figured as a young born-again Christian I had a lot to learn, so I pretty much followed along, since they knew more than I did. Anti-Mormon literature presents Mormon beliefs as being very bizarre. The Mormon beliefs presented in anti-Mormon literature turned me against the Mormon Church.
I was taught that the burning of the bosom that can be experienced when one receives the Holy Ghost was satanic and a counterfeit of the Holy Spirit. I got swindled and manipulated into believing The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was a cult. I noticed, however, a peaceful glow about the Mormons. When missionaries talked about the Spirit World and pre-existence something sounded familiar.
It was a total of ten years from 1976 to 1984 that I investigated the Mormon Church off and on. I toook the missionary lessons several times, talked to individual Mormons, went to sacrament meeting and went to all the classes. With all the stacks of anti-Mormon books and literature and videos I had, I decided to buy all pro-Mormon books at Mormon book stores. I read scads of pro-Mormon books — everything from Le Grand Richatds to Hugh Nibley to Joseph Fielding Smith to Brigham young, Orson Pratt, Ezra Taft Benson, James Talmage… the four standard works, to commentaries to the Ensign and many other pro-Mormon books. I still searched other paths before converting to the LDS Church.
Every time I read LDS books, I felt right and good. It got to the point where I was reading the Book of Mormon and feeling right and warm and burning in my bosom. I woke up in the middle of the night knowing. I Knew the Book of Mormon is true and that Joseph Smith was a true prophet. I owe it to my brothers and sisters out there to share with them that I’m not anti-Mormon any more, and that God has opened my eyes and I’ve discovered more blessings. At my baptism into the Mormon Church, and upon receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost, I know I was baptized by fire. I felt the Holy Ghost fill me. My vision was very clear; everything I looked at was as clear as crystal glass. All colors were intense, brighter. It was as if everything was celestial.
Out of all the goodness of truth and positive experiences I had as a born again Christian, I was able to know that the Lord’s Church is true, and the fullness of the gospel has been restored on the earth. I now have the fullness of the gospel and the enjoyment of the fulness of the Holy Ghost along with the priesthood!! The holy ghost burns in my bosom from head to toe ! I know the Bible, the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price are true! I know and feel Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior! He walks with me and talks with me.
We have been redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus. All our brothers and sisters in Christianity have ninety percent of the truth, but lack a prophet and the authority of the priesthood.
John Jeremiah Conroy (known as Uhida Suano) holds the Aaronic Priesthood in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and lives in California.