YEAR BORN: 1982
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
HISTORY: RAISED AS A MORMON
I was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, the last of four children. My parents were well-educated and wanted to raise their children in a positive social environment. Four years before I was born, my parents met Mormon missionaries. Impressed by how clean-cut and well-mannered the young men were, my parents soon decided that our family would become one of the first families on the island to join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or the Mormon Church.
As I grew up, I enjoyed the social activities at church and respected the Mormon focus on family life and moral values. I was proud to be a Mormon and made it my goal to become a missionary.
When I was 18 years old, my family relocated to the United States with the intention of furthering my college education. About a year later, my aunt and uncle, who are Jehovah’s Witnesses, came to visit us in Florida. They invited us to attend a Bible convention with them. I was impressed that everyone around me was looking up the scriptures and taking notes. So I asked for a pen and paper and started to do the same.
After the convention my aunt and uncle said that since I was interested in becoming a missionary, they could help me to learn something about the Bible. I thought it was a good idea because at the time, I had been exposed much more to the Book of Mormon than to the Bible.
HOW THE BIBLE CHANGED MY LIFE:
During our Bible discussions over the phone, my aunt and uncle always encouraged me to compare my beliefs with Bible teachings. They wanted me to prove the truth to myself.
There were many things about the Mormon faith that I had accepted, but I wasn’t really sure how the Scriptures compared with those ideas. My aunt sent me the November 8, 1995, issue of the Awake! magazine, published by Jehovah’s Witnesses, which included some articles on the Mormon faith. I was surprised that I wasn’t familiar with many of the Mormon teachings. That moved me to search through the official Mormon Web site to confirm that what was stated in Awake! was factual. It was, and those facts were further confirmed when I visited Mormon museums in Utah.
I had always believed that the Book of Mormon and the Bible complemented each other. But when I began to read the Bible in earnest, I noticed contradictions between Mormon teachings and statements in the Bible. For example, at Ezekiel 18:4, the Bible says that the soul dies. However, the Book of Mormon, at Alma 42:9, states: “The soul could never die.”
In addition to doctrinal discrepancies, I was troubled by the nationalistic ideas taught by the Mormons. For example, Mormons are taught that the garden of Eden was in Jackson County, Missouri, U.S.A. And church prophets say that when “the Kingdom of God will bear rule, the flag of the United States will proudly flutter unsullied on the flag staff of liberty and equal rights.”
I wondered how the country of my birth—or any other country—would fit into this picture. I brought this topic up in conversation one evening when I received a phone call from a young Mormon who was being trained to become a missionary. I asked him plainly whether he would be willing to fight against fellow Mormons if his country was at war with theirs. I was surprised when he said yes! I dug deeper into the teachings of my faith and also consulted with responsible Mormon Church leaders. I was told that the answers to my questions involved mysteries that one day would be solved as the light became brighter.
Disappointed by their explanation, I looked more closely at myself and my reason for wanting to become a Mormon missionary. I realized that I was attracted to the idea of becoming a missionary just as I would be to any other humanitarian cause. The social status that would naturally come with being a missionary also appealed to me. But as far as God was concerned, I didn’t really know that much about him. Although I had looked through the Bible many times in the past, I had not truly valued it. I had no idea of God’s purpose for the earth or for mankind.
HOW I HAVE BENEFITED:
Through my study of the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses, I learned, among other things, what God’s name is, what happens at death, and what Jesus’ role is in fulfilling God’s purpose. At last I was becoming familiar with this wonderful book, and I enjoyed sharing with others the truths I was learning. I always knew that God existed, but now I could speak to him in prayer as my best Friend. I was baptized as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses on July 12, 2004, and six months later began working full-time in the Christian ministry.
For five years, I worked at the world headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Brooklyn, New York. I thoroughly enjoyed being able to help in the production of Bibles and Bible-based literature that benefit millions around the earth, and I continue to enjoy helping others learn about God.