BYU converts share why they believe

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(BYU Converts Club)
Members of the BYU Converts club pose together for a group photo. The club was established in February 2018. (BYU Converts club)

The BYU Converts club is designed to create a community for students who may be feeling isolated or are facing other challenges. The club was organized in February 2018 and allows members to connect with other students who may have had similar situations or experiences in life.

The group held an event on April 11 where club members and faculty shared reasons why they believe in the gospel. The event included six speakers with musical numbers and video presentations throughout.

Jessi Fisher, music education major

Josh Ellis
BYU student Jessi Fisher shares why she believes and details her path of finding faith. (Josh Ellis)

Jessi Fisher serves as the activity coordinator for the BYU Converts club. Fisher spoke first at the “Why I Believe” event. She shared her personal conversion story and how it influenced her perspective on life.

“When I was 11 my world completely changed,” Fisher said. “My parents got divorced and I was dealing with things that I felt like I couldn’t.”

She said the experience shook her faith and she stopped believing in God. Later, she said she came to a crossroads in her life — she was angry, but wanted to find hope.

Fisher ended up investigating the LDS church as a last resort. However, she said the doctrine of eternal families was beautiful and ultimately aided her decision to be baptized on May 14, 2011.

Hank Smith, BYU religion professor

Josh Ellis
BYU religion professor Hank Smith shares the importance of finding belonging within the church. (Josh Ellis)

Hank Smith shared the story of a former student who was a convert. This student often felt out of place at BYU and felt like she didn’t know as much as her peers. Smith emphasized the importance of ensuring everyone feels like they belong.

“I think part of our job here is to take care of each other, but also more than take care of each other, take care of those who are new among us,” Smith said.

He said he was excited when he heard there is now a converts club at BYU. Every member is in a way a convert to the church, according to Smith, but those who join the church later in life face different challenges.

“Converted means changed, and we’ve all hopefully been changed by Christ,” Smith said. “Elder Bednar said to choose the Savior is to choose to be changed.”

Sofia Vang, public health major

Josh Ellis
BYU student Sofia Vang shares why she believes despite the challenges she has faced. (Josh Ellis)

Sofia Vang shared a message of healing and hope. Vang was baptized nearly four years ago and said she never experienced true joy until she found the gospel .

Vang shared a painful experience she had with sexual assault. She said she felt isolated and didn’t understand how God would let this happen to her. Later, however, she said she found healing when she turned back to God.

“The trials you’ve endured from the sins of others will never define who you are,” Vang said. “You are defined by how you’ll allow Christ to paint your masterpiece.”

Jim Brau, BYU finance professor

Josh Ellis
BYU finance professor Jim Brau shares why he believes the Book of Mormon is the keystone of his religion. (Josh Ellis)

Jim Brau encourages all of his students each semester to come speak with him if they are having doubts about the church.

He said he was raised in a loving Catholic home. Brau and his three brothers are now converts — all in different churches.

“I like to be at BYU because I hope that I can somehow or another share spiritual thoughts in my class and I get to teach 800 students at a time and hopefully I do a little bit of good,” Brau said.

He said if one wants to become an “unconvert” just stop reading the Book of Mormon. Brau said he believes in Christ because of the converting power of the Book of Mormon.

David Aruldass, pre-management major

Josh Ellis
BYU student David Aruldass shares how he found the LDS church through living in an orphanage in India. (Josh Ellis)

David Aruldass grew up in India and had a rough childhood. His parents separated because he father was an alcoholic, leaving his mother to raise him on her own. She couldn’t provide for the family because she didn’t have a job so she sent her kids to an orphanage.

Aruldass was introduced to the LDS church living in that orphanage and said it is the best thing that has happened to him. He was impressed by how friendly the members were and how comfortable he felt at church.

“Missionaries came to our orphanage; they were willing to teach me along with some other kids,” Aruldass said. “I didn’t understand what the missionaries were teaching at the time, but I felt the Spirit so strong and I still remember that feeling.”

Fred Christensen, information systems major

Josh Ellis
BYU student Fred Christensen shares his conversion story. He was baptized 3 years and 7 months after starting school at BYU. (Josh Ellis)

Fred Christensen learned about a scholarship opportunity to attend school in the U.S. while living in Denmark. He said he ended up coming to BYU not fully knowing what he was getting himself into. He was introduced to the church at BYU.

“Some of my friends came up with a new term for me — they called me a ‘dry mormon’ because I basically had all the knowledge the only thing I needed was the dip in the pool,” Christensen said.

Christensen was baptized on March 3, 2018 — 3 years and 7 months after arriving to BYU. He said it has been an amazing journey and he is grateful for his friends at BYU who shared their beliefs with him.

“If you share the gospel with (others), but never force it, they at some point will come unto Christ and they will see the truth in the church,” Christensen said.

Watch the video below to learn why the BYU Converts club president and activity coordinator feel the club is important and beneficial to the BYU community.

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