GOD KNOWS OUR THOUGHTS
In my child mind, I always imagined a place where there was no bad, but only peace and goodness. It was just a dream. When I thought about death, I was afraid of being disappeared into some kind of emptiness. It was a scary thought. I did not want to think about it. As I looked around, I saw many people who were busy with their own things. I wanted life to be more than just money and education.
AM I? WHERE DID I COME FROM? WHERE DO I GO AFTER DEATH?
As the time went by, I asked myself several questions like: "Who am I? Why am I here? Where will I go when I die? Just die...?" Something that I always liked to do was pondering. One day I thought about all my ancestors. For some reason, I wanted to become acquainted with all my ancestors, even back to Adam and Eve. They were all dead, but where were they now?
At this time, I knew that there was a God; but I did not know very much about Him. I started going to a mosque. I felt good, but also confused. There were only men in the mosques. Repeating the same Arabic prayers again and again did not seem logical to me. Thinking that God does not have a body or a form did not seem right. (I realized this later...If God did not have a heart, how could he love us then? Did not God create us in his image?) At school, outside or at home, I was quite confused about religion in general. Have you ever been confused? What do you do when you are confused? I, myself, decided to give up with all religion. It seemed to me like religions had many illogical ideas. It was like something missing in my life. I did not know what it was, but I was determined that some day I was going to find answers to all my questions.
When I was going to high school, I had some interesting experiences which let me know that there was something like a spirit world. I knew that my real being was actually something inside of my body. I had thousands of questions but no concrete answers. I knew about Mohammed, and I heard about other prophets like Abraham, Moses and Jesus, but I had no idea about other religions than my own. I wanted to know more, but living in a Moslem country in early 1980s and in a small city made things difficult of course; there was no source of information.
During my search for God and my confusion about religion, I turned to basketball. It became basically my life. I loved this game so much. I played for the high school team and also for DSI club. I was 1:85 tall. When I jumped, I could touch the net with my head. My best game was when I scored a game high 44 points. In times of my soul searching, I always enjoyed shooting the ball through the basket and pondering about life; it gave me some kind of a hope or a vision for life.
Visiting my grandma was something that I always enjoyed. It was great to listen to her life stories. She was a very devout lady with great faith. She always told me about the miracles in her life. She would always say: "God always protects and He blesses those who have faith in Him." Her words made me feel something; somehow, I wanted God to help me. Like many young people who don't get along with their parents, I did not want to live at home; I desired to go somewhere far.
After I had graduated from high school, I started studying International Relations in Istanbul. I was away from home and living with my uncle in a basement apartment. It was actually good for me to get away from home, but it was hard. I lacked a lot of things. Beside, I had a chronic ulcer. Probably, because of everything that I was thinking.
I felt like I was supposed to go somewhere to find something. It was a strange feeling. During these times, I discovered something special. As I looked at myself and others, people seemed to have their own personality as they were born into this life. I knew that I had lived once before (but not reincarnation). Then something happened.
When I was on my campus one day, I saw a flyer on my department bulletin board: This flyer was about a scholarship to study in Norway. I wanted to apply, but the competition was too great. Everybody that applied seemed to have much better background (coming from elite private schools) and GPA than I did. Just a couple of days before the deadline, something told me to apply for this scholarship. Somehow, I felt like I had to do this. I went ahead and got the forms. After filling them out, I sent my application in with the express mail.
After five or six months later, when I had completely forgot about this, I got a letter from Norway. I had received the scholarship. It was just impossible; to my amazement, I also found out that I was the only student from my whole country who had received this scholarship. I knew that somehow God had something to do with this, but WHY, I did not know.
Just before I left for Norway, I was at home with my parents. We started talking about religion. I was going to a Christian country. In my country, when people are born, they become automatically Muslims. I thought this was not right. Why did not people have freedom to choose whichever religion they wanted to belong to? I expressed my concern over this topic to my parents. I just wanted to be close to God and learn more about other religions. I told them I was going to change my religion some day.
Coming to Norway was a great change. The weather and the food were very different, but the people were friendly. I loved their mentality of equality and their advanced social system. I had a lot of fun at my new school. Now, I had also a chance to learn about Christianity. So I started attending some meetings. But to my surprise, I saw a few things that made me really wondering. After a while, I came to a conclusion that it was best for me to stay away from Christianity. I had a hard time understanding why priests dressed up weird! (My opinion today - Professional clergy is very common among all religions. Why do religious leaders work for money?)
THAT IS WITHOUT SIN AMONG YOU, LET HIM CAST THE FIRST STONE
One day I happened to watch a video film at my school called Jesus of Nazareth. In this film, there was one part that really touched me. There was a woman who had broken one of the important commandments. She had committed adultery. According to the law, she was going to be stoned. When Jesus saw this, he said, "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast stone at her." All her accusers left one by one. Right then, something really shook me up. I went to my room, and I said a prayer, but a little bit different. First, I asked God to help me, then I said: "Jesus Christ, I do not know who you are, but I need help. I need answers for my questions. If you can, please help me.
CAN I GET RID OF MY SINS
I was seventeen when I came to this country. I knew that there was something which was waiting for me, but I did not know what it was. One day I went down to the lake nearby. The lake was just beautiful. I made a fire and I watched the sky. As I enjoyed the beauty of the nature, I felt like I was not worthy before God. I wished to be born again, but how could that be possible? I wished I had had a better start from the beginning. All the wrong things that I've done were bothering me. Why were they supposed to follow me? How could I get rid of my sins?
I was one day wondering about our thoughts. Was it wrong to have bad thoughts? During this time, I was asked to coach a high school basketball team; it was great. I still kept wondering about the purpose of life. Why was man created for? Was it just a result of an experiment which somebody or something conducted up there? Evolution! I just could not accept the idea that we were evolved from monkeys. Evolution could explain some things like plants, animals or our world and it's progress, but it was hard for me to understand that we were descendants of monkeys. Coming out as a human by way too many lucky accidents, NO WAY. I couldn't just agree to that. As in nature, was I just going to live my life and let things roll in their self order? I had too many questions, but no answers.
IS NO GOD
I started hanging out with some friends who were pretty intellectual in many things including politics. As normal Norwegians do, they did not believe in God and they tried hard to convince me that there was no God. One day, they were giving me a really hard time about God; I got upset and told them that I did not know very much about God, but I knew that He existed. When I completed my sentence, I felt something. I felt like God had heard me.
The mentality among the youth in this country was not the best, even they were good and friendly people. They drank and partied a lot. Lots of people were living together and did not care about marriage at all. In this country, young people or everyone seemed to care about about physical intimacy, drinking and fun more than anything. I think, this is the common ideology everywhere. I wished to be in a place where people loved God and lived a moral life. I wanted to be together with people who had a different perspective about marriage. I did not like the idea of getting divorced or living together. You don't get married to get divorced. There are exceptions, I guess. I wanted the marriage bond to be strong and unbreakable. I also wanted to raise good children
At the end of that school year, I applied to many different Technical Colleges in Norway. To my luck, I was accepted to several schools. When I was trying to make my decision about which school I should attend, I picked one that I had just applied for the sake of it; I knew nothing about this school, but this was the school I had to go.
I started studying Computer Science. but, I was thinking about going back home. I was homesick. Something was missing; I could not find this missing part. One evening when I was in my room, I had an impression to get out of my room. I obeyed my conscience. As soon as I opened my door to get out, I saw two men dressed up in suits and overcoats passing by my door. I felt a tremendous power over me; it felt like something pushed me from my back; I had to talk to these men. I did not know who they were; but I just had to talk to them. I had this feeling of urgency (Act 2:38). I lifted my hand and pointed at these people and told them that I needed to talk to them. I knew I was supposed to talk to them.
These two gentlemen were missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. They told me that they came to see my neighbor and they promised to come back after visiting with my neighbor. When they came back to see me, it was late. They asked me if they could come back another time. My answer was NO! I told them that I wanted to talk to them right then and I asked them to come in. I knew that I had to listen to these guys, but WHY, I did not know.
As we got to know each other, I found out that Elder Herrod and Elder Peterson did not make any money for their service. Plus, they had to pay for all their expenses during their two years of service. I was really impressed. I had many questions for them; they took time and answered all my questions. They believed that man was a creation of God in His image. Their answers were very logical and made sense. They asked me if I wanted to listen to their six presentations. I said, "Sure".
GOD TALK TO YOU
They began to share with me their beliefs about a plan which is called Our Heavenly Fathers' Plan or Plan of Happiness. Each discussion took about an hour. I became friends with these two great men. While they were teaching me, it was not easy to understand them. There were so many new terms which I had never heard before.
I did not just believe in everything that they said. I questioned them a lot. I had to read and search. They encouraged me to pray! They said to me: "If you ask God, He will answer you and help you to know if these things are true or not.
As I analyzed missionaries' message and thought about it, I prayed for answers. Through my peaceful feelings and other experiences, I came to a conclusion that their message was true. Every time these missionaries came to visit me, they brought a special spirit to my apartment. It was very peaceful. This is something that Satan can never imitate. When they left my apartment, this feeling left my apartment also. I wanted to have this feeling with me; I knew that this feeling was something from God, it was the Holy Spirit. These young men's countenances (faces) were always glowing like angels. They taught me about the plan of salvation, God and His Son Jesus Christ, the Bible, the Book of Mormon, baptism and many other things. When I heard about baptism by immersion, I knew that this was what I had been waiting for all my life. I could start all over again. I prayed about being baptized, and God let me know that I needed to be baptized. I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior. When I was baptized, it felt like I was going down into the darkness and coming up to the light. The water seemed so deep and I felt like I was going to drowned. When I came out of the water, I felt so much joy. A lady told me that my face was glowing.
WAS NOT BY CHANCE
All the way coming from my country to Norway was not by chance. Today I know that God knew my thoughts when I was seeking for Him. I repented of my sins before going down to the waters of baptism. As I came out of the water, I knew without a doubt that my sins were gone. It was a very special moment.
After becoming a member, I desired to become like Elders who taught me. I had this urge in me to share the gospel with others. Once you find something which makes you really happy, what is the first thing you want to do? You want to share it with others. I did share it with others, but I wanted to go on a full time mission. My desire was granted unto me. In 1989, I left Norway and went to Arizona. This was also according to my dream which I had. I had seen myself in a dream, dressed up like a missionary, and I heard the English language being spoken. Being called to Arizona was a fulfilment of my dream. Just like the missionaries who taught me, I worked hard for two years without earning a penny. I had a chance to share my experiences with others. With my companions, we talked to hundreds, even thousands of people about this PLAN OF HAPPINESS, eternal families, life after death, the purpose of life, Lord's health code, etc... I met many great people and learned from them as well. My mission was not just about teaching, we had a chance to do many service projects for people from every walks of life. We helped many people quit smoking and quit drinking. We helped many people with their yards, cars or anything. But let me tell you, me and my companions, laid our hands upon some really sick people in the name of Jesus Christ and we healed them. I saw many mighty miracles on my mission. One day I had a dream, and in my dream I was told that my grandma was going to die in a week. After two weeks, I had another dream that she had passed away. Shortly after, I received a letter from my mom that my grandma had died. I am grateful that she instilled in me some faith in God so that I kept searching for Him. As Christ said, seek and ye shall find it, knock and it shall be opened.
I freely gave up two years of my life. I woke up every morning very early and worked about 12-13 hours almost every day. I encouraged everybody to listen to our important message. I also told them that they should not believe me or take my word, but instead, they should pray and ask God if these things were really true. Personal revelation is available for everyone.
God answers our prayers. If something is true and coming from Him, He is going to CONFIRM that. A lot of people tried to convince me that Satan could answer our prayers or our mind could just speak to us. When God talks to us, we know without a doubt that it is God the Almighty. And when an answer comes from Him, there is so much peace and love that nothing can imitate that feeling.
At the end, I'd just like to say that "life is not easy but once you know its purpose, that's what makes things different." We must endure to the end and never give up.
If you are interested in learning about this great plan of happiness and finding answers to our most important questions in life, I can maybe help. As you read these words, if something ever moved you, if you felt one of these feelings "love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance (read Galatians 5:22-23), you did feel the Spirit of God. This is God through his Holy Spirit is testifying to you or speaking to your soul that these things are true. If you want to learn more about our beliefs, please write to me me.