Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Children and Conversion

I remember in the MTC wanting to feel an overwhelming feeling - the classic burning in the bosom, since I have had a conviction of the Gospel and the Restoration since as early as I can remember. I came to realize that I truly had a real testimony, even though I rarely felt a burning in my bosom, but the nature of my conversion never registered completely until a couple of years ago when I was out with the missionaries - visiting an inactive member of our branch.

This woman works Sundays, so she is unable to attend church. As we talked, however, she told us about her upbringing - how she had asked her minister at the age of 7 why Heavenly "Father" wasn't married (since a father needs a mother, right?) - and why scripture stopped with the Bible (since God appeared and spoke to Paul after Jesus' death, right?) - and on and on and on. She said she simply understood at that age that these types of questions were important, and that she needed to find the answers.

As I listened to her, it struck me that she was describing me. The only difference is that I had the answers growing up for which she was searching. We both understood them when we heard them; I just heard them at the age when she was recognizing and searching for them. My "conversion" - as a BIC member - was exactly like hers would have been if she had heard the answers in her youth.

I have served in many callings in the Church, including numerous ones that dealt with missionary work and teaching about testimonies, but I had never grasped that children in the Church truly can be "converted" prior to baptism. I had come to understand that my own testimony was gained while in my youth and was real, but I had not equated it with an adult conversion. As a school teacher, I knew that we vastly underestimate the learning capacity of most of our children, but I had never related that to their capacity for true conversion.

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