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I was raised Southern Baptist, my parents and paternal grandparents being very active (my grandfather, the Reverend Archie Harold Cole served as the chief executive of the South Carolina Southern Baptist Convention), but in high school I became dissatisfied with their teachings and went in search of a more complete, universal truth. (I am now very, very grateful for my Southern Baptist upbringing and the goodness it instilled in me.)
I was trying to piece together that "universal truth" by studying many different religions, both Christian and non-christian, and the philosophies of men, piecing together what I thought of as a giant jigsaw puzzle by listening to what I felt about different things as I pondered them. It was late summer 1990 when I ordered a Book of Mormon from a TV commercial and put in on the list of books to read.
The following Spring, Adrienne Arnold, the little sister of one of my good friends and band-mates, Rick Arnold, and I became friends. She (and Rick, though he was inactive) was a member of the LDS Church and told me much about it. I bumped the Book of Mormon to the top of my reading list and shortly thereafter went to church with her. During priesthood meeting I sat next to the elder missionaries, and they told me that what they do is teach people about their church. Perfect! I asked them if they would teach me. (They then referred me to the missionaries that covered my area - Elders Eric Calder and Jaron Barney.)
So I met with the missionaries often, picking their brains about everything I could think of and couldn't find answers to before. "So, if we have a Heavenly Father, do we have a Heavenly Mother?" "If we're to be like Heavenly Father and we're going to be resurrected, does He have a body?" "What's the point of getting married if it just ends at death?" — needless to say I was delighted at the frankness and completeness of the answers, but...
I didn't know it was true. Early on in our meetings, the missionaries asked me if I would consider being baptized. I said, "No." Then they asked me if I would if I found out that this all is true. I was skeptical that is was, but yes, if it was, I would. Later, after five formal "discussions" and many meetings, they asked if I would be baptized. Again I said, "No." It really all made sense and fit together nicely, but I didn't know that it was the whole jigsaw puzzle — I didn't know it was the truth. I wasn't going to give up on it just yet, though. If it was the truth I needed to know.
So, one weekend I put everything else aside, fasted and read the Book of Mormon — hoping to once and for all know if this was real. While reading the Book of Mormon I got fed up with it, got on my knees and prayed to Heavenly Father, "If this is not true, please let me know and I'll take the truths I've found and keep piecing it all together, but if it is, dear Father, please let me know and I'll follow it and not look back." Suddenly all doubt was gone. I knew, beyond any doubt, that this was the truth — Jesus is the Christ, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was founded by and is led by Him, Ezra Taft Benson was a true prophet, and the Book of Mormon is the word of God. I was exhausted and overjoyed. The next day I shared that with the missionaries and a week later, 30 June 1991, was baptized.
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