When I was young, I was used to seeing convert baptisms. At my own baptism (in Lake Texoma) a convert family was baptised before I was as member baptisms always went last.
On my mission (to the New York Rochester mission) in my first area I had someone come up to me and ask to be baptized (and they were in a few weeks — though they had been attending church for some time). Before I was transferred I and elder Hoefling got up one prep day morning and instead of doing laundry and buying groceries felt inspired to go north, about a mile, and start tracting. At the first door we met someone whose only day home was the standard prep day and who had a Book of Mormon and had been wanting to join the church, with growing desire, for about two years.
I’d say I met someone like that on an average of about every six months on my mission.
When I returned I met people who were returning to God or the Church on about the same frequency. Situations like the David and Jacob story from conference (and I met them when the one was still in the Dallas area) were a recurring theme in my life. It is why I wrote the essay about how the Church needs more of its (returning) apostates. The presence of those who have returned provides a path for return, an example, and a testimony of the power of return.
I still see some of those who leave and who return — but they no longer seem a fixture in every ward. I’m also seeing fewer of those who were specifically led to the Church in what seems, more or less, a miraculous fashion (I’ll spare you more mission stories and post mission stories, but for a time it was so common it seemed to normal).
I’m wondering, where have they gone? Is it just my current ward or do we have fewer returning apostates and fewer converts over all?
- What is your experience?
- What do you think the reason for the change?
- Am I just in a different place or has there been a change?
- What stories do you have of people who have returned (like the story in from this conference) or who have come to the church against all odds?