What of the
Conversion Story of a Chinese Buddhist, January 3, 2015, by Samantha Shelley, Millennial Mormons
This is the conversion story of Kanokphol Young Limpanasriphong. English is his third language, so itfs pretty impressive that he was able to write this out for me. I have chosen not to edit it, and to keep it in the original wording he used, just to make it more authentic. The images used were also taken by Young himself. This story made me cry, so I hope it inspires you as much as itfs inspired me.
If you would ask me what can change people, I would tell you a story of my own to answer that question. I am from Thailand and I grew up in Mainland China. I am a super happy kid. My family isnft big, just my parents and one younger brother, and we were Buddhist. Both of my parents are wonderful people, they raised me in love and good manner. Everyday my parents would ask me to study the Buddhist scripture, at the age of 6 I would pray daily, and sit down in the worship room at night to read the scriptures. One day I was about to pray at night just as usual, and a thought occurred to me—why do I have to recite the same prayer every time, why canft I say whatever is deep down in my heart? So that night, I tried something different, in my heart I said to the higher being of my thanks, gratitude, and blessings that I wish could be granted unto my family. I felt peaceful.
Years gone by, I continued to be a good Buddhist. I was very blessed by this religion, my family would go travel and worship in different Buddhist temples. Ifve written articles that were published in the Buddhist Magazine in China, and visited hundreds of temples at the age of 14. I enjoyed learning from some of the most well-known monks in China, Thailand and Taiwan. At one point I thought about becoming a monk to go serve others.
When I was about 16, I had the opportunity to join an exchange student organization called gFace the Worldh. The program will assign students from Thailand to live in an American family for a year. Before I came to the States, I had the opportunity to choose where do I want to go in the US, I happily decided on California, New York and Texas. couple weeks later I sadly found out that I got assigned to Utah. I quickly grabbed my laptop and found out that there were only two things in this place so called gWu Tah, mountains, and Mormons. I thought my life was doomed.
But for some reason I decided to go. Nothing else but a prompting! The family that I lived with was the Jensonfs in a small town called Springville. They are wonderful people, Me and one of their daughters, Elizabeth, are the same age, the dad happened to be a missionary back in the days in Thailand for two years when he was about 20 years old. The mom often times would chat with me about the Church at the end of the day—about the love that she has for the family, and she would tell me about Jesus. Even Jesus was a stranger to me and my culture, yet I found joy listening to His story, living with them I started to forget about how out of nowhere this place is and found it interesting.
In the small town of Springville, kids are nice, innocent, they didnft do drink, smoke, not even swearing. I didnft do any of those things neither , but compared to China and Thailand thatfs very different!
I made a lots of friends in high
school, there were couple kids who had a life changing influence on me.
There was one in particular, his name was Michael White, we became good
friends quickly. One day , he asked me about my religion and if I
believed in God. He also asked me if would be interested to learn about
the Mormon church. I agreed. and the agreement was gYoung, you teach
about Buddha and we will teach you about Jesus.h
I had great friends in school, they never pushed me to join the Church or force to do the things that they do. Ben, Connor, Mike, Scott, Jared, Austin, Brandon, and many many others were always kind to me, they would often share their testimony of the church with me. Even though I continually meet with the missionaries. However I still considered myself as a Buddhist. I canft deny that I was really blessed by the religion. When the Elders invited me to be baptized, I quickly said no. and I was thinking that I donft think I will ever get baptized.
One year flew by, I was about to go back to Thailand, at the time, I noticed that I have fall in love with this place , Utah, I love the kindness that people show, I love the culture here, I love the mountains. So I talked to Mike and wondering if I can come back and live with their family and graduate from high school. Mama and Papa White happily said yes! Up to this time, the Whites and the Jensons are like my parents.
The night before I flew back to Thailand for the summer. My friend Connor dropped me at Mikefs home, before I get out from the truck, he told me in a serious voice he has something for me. Connor is a funny kid, so I never seen him this serious before. He gave me a Book of Mormon, he told me that he knew the Church is true because of this book, he invited me to pray about it one more time. I took the book, and that very night, I again kneeled down, and asked God about the Book of Mormon, if itfs truly from Him, and itfs that night, I knew The Book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ!
I canft believe how excited I got when I saw my parents, I realized that because of the church I love my family a lot more than what I used to. Even more surprisingly, I told them about how great the church was. Even I got back to Thailand, I missed the church, the Mormon people, so I went to church, I prayed nightly to have some of the great feelings that I have felt when I was in Utah.
Very soon, senior year started, I was back the States, living with the Whites. I continually met with the elders, I prayed, read The Book of Mormon, the Bible, I went to church weekly, enrolled in early morning seminary. I love the Church more and more, but I never forgot that I was a Buddhist. The elders tried everything they know what they can do, but every time when the baptismal invitation comes up I would always say no!
I had an opportunity to go to
General Conference with the Whites, I sat down and got ready to listen
to the smart old people to talk. That was not the first time I listened
to General Conference, but itfs first time being in the Conference
Center. The clock pointed at a little bit before six, a man walked in,
the room of thousands of people all the sudden go so quiet. Papa White
whispered to me, gThatfs the prophet, President Thomas S Monsonh, a very
strong feeling overwhelmed my body as I watched this man walked in and
hear those words. I again, felt something very special!
One day I came home from school, feeling very very excited, the feeling inside of my soul made me want to do something meaningful. I didnft know what it was. I couldnft sit, I was walking around in the room. Finally my roommate Ben came home, I express to him my feeling, he smiled and told me that if it was him he would go out and find a place to pray to God. I decided to do so, and I told my roommate if I didnft get back within 2 hours, they can call the cop and tell them that an Asian is lost in wilderness.
I was living by the Provo temple, I walked towards the canyon, pondering about everything that I have learned over the past three years about this church. Every testimony that I have heard from my friends, from missionaries came to my ear, every scriptures that I really inspired me came to my heart, every hymns that I loved are like angels sounding in the sky, I walked up to a point that I can see the temple clearly, looked around, no one was there, but me. I kneeled down, called out God, said g Father, what should I do ?h
As I was pondering what to say to Him next, the wind started to blowing very loudly, it wasnft just loud, it was also angry, distracting, and overwhelming, I started to feel scared, and wondering if this praying thing is right. When I was about to give up, the story of the prophet Joseph Smith came up to my mind, and I knew that I canft give up, I kept calling God, and finally, something miraculous happenedcc Everything feeling, every peaceful, uplifted feeling that I can possibly think of all came to me together, the prayer that I said since I was six, the first time I prayed to God alone after the invitation of missionaries, the first time I received an answer that the BOM was true, the first time I watch Joseph Smith Prophet of the Restoration on Temple Square, the first time that I saw President Monson in real life, the first time I found out that I love Jesus Christ, the first timec. ALL THOSE FEELINGS WERE COMBINED and HIT MY SOUL SO HARD!
Then, I heard these words gMy son, donft deny me and my Only Begotten Son, you know all you have learned itfs true, go and do the things that you know you need to do.h In those words I never heard that I needed to be baptized, but I know thatfs exactly what God wants me to do! I got up, eyes are so wet, I see the beautiful temple. My hand went in to my pocket without me noticing, the next second I was on the phone with Papa White, I want to say something but nothing come out of my mouth but only heavy breathing, he asked me if I am ok. All I said was, Dad, Ifm ready to be baptized.
It was that very night, I kneeled down again and thank Him for His answer, and also all the answers He granted me all these years, I apologized for my ignorance and pride. and I promised Him that for the rest of life, I will share His love to all His children and that included serving a full time mission.
I am very grateful for all of them who were there that day, and those who have helped me to find out the true church of Jesus Christ. Even more, I am grateful that God and His Son were there the whole time. I have witnessed something very very very special that day at my baptism! And by personal experience and with a sure conviction I know God the Father and Christ the Son truly truly truly lives! They are living, glorified body and spirit! I can not deny it!
I bare my witness that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the true church of Christ! God hears and answers our prayers. I know that Jesus Christ finished the Atonement, He is our Savior, He is resurrected, and we shall all see Him in flesh one day! In the years of 1820, Joseph Smith saw God the Father and the Son Jesus Christ in flesh, after that event the church was restored. The Book of Mormon and the Holy Bible are the words of God. On top of that we have modern day living prophet who can will lead us and guide us, so we can live a meaningful and wonderful life. Godfs purpose is to help us become like Him , and to bind family members together through time and eternity. I know all these things are true, because I asked God, and He did care! I love Him so I will serve Him throughout my life.