Why Did I Join the Church

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Joseph Smith's First Vision

While serving as a mission president in Pennsylvania, I was asked to speak at the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. I took my assistants with me. As I addressed those men who were about to become ministers in a variety of Protestant churches, the impression came to me that they believed the only reason I was a Mormon was because I had been born and raised in my church. When I told them my impression, several smiled and nodded their heads. I said, "That is not the reason I am a Latter-day Saint, but instead of my telling you the real reason I am a Mormon, I am going to ask my assistant, Elder Zeller, to tell you why he joined the Church. He is the only member of his family that belongs to the LDS Church and he joined when he was about seventeen or eighteen years old. Furthermore, he is bright enough to be accepted at any university in the country, including Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Brown, or even the University of Pittsburgh."

Elder Zeller almost fell off his chair, having had no warning that he would address that group. But, being obedient, he did as I asked. After relating a few things about his life and his search for the true church, he began to recite Joseph Smith's account of his First Vision, word for word, as he had memorized it. He came to the words, "I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!" The spirit of the Lord filled the room, bearing witness that Elder Zeller spoke the truth. Some eyes began to tear. Then Elder Zeller said, "That is why I joined the Church, because God the Father and Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith and later through him restored the true church to the earth."

After Elder Zeller concluded his testimony I said, "That is why I am a Mormon, too. It makes little difference that my great-great-grandfather was a Mormon, my grandfather and my father, too. I am a Latter-day Saint because, like Elder Zeller, I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet." Like Joseph and Elder Zeller, I also spoke truth.

Ken Godfrey shares this experience in the book "My Soul Delighteth in the Scriptures", p. 108-109