How Brian Chen’s life has changed through BYU men’s tennis

For Redd Owen, Sunday, Feb. 25 was the “sunniest day so far this semester,” and not just because the sun was shining. On that day, Owen baptized his teammate, Brian Chen, a sophomore from Taiwan.

Both Chen and Owen made their collegiate tennis debut at BYU in the 2022-23 season, but it wasn’t until later in the fall semester of 2022 that they became better friends. Owen had been going through personal struggles and asked his roommate to give him a blessing. In that blessing, he was told to look outward for opportunities to serve.

Early the next morning, after praying to ask God to open his eyes for someone to serve, Owen arrived for the team weight training and saw Chen covered in snow. He immediately knew that Chen was who he was supposed to serve.

“From that day forward, I drove him, not just to tennis every morning, but I started bringing him any time I’d hang out with my friends, including going to church on Sundays,” Owen said.

For a while, Chen was simply curious to understand the gospel, but not to be a part of it. He returned to his home in Taiwan over the summer, then came back to Utah in the fall and once again began going to church with Owen.

Something changed in November of 2023 at the Ralston/Neufeld Coaches Challenge tournament in Dallas, Texas. The team had had a rough day of matches, and Chen and Owen were going about their nightly routine of saying prayers and reading the Book of Mormon before heading to bed.

“We were reading about how Christ is the light, and that was my first time feeling the Spirit,” Chen said. “It was a really special feeling for me.”

Owen felt the Spirit in that moment as well, and he said that after that experience, the two of them began having more personal conversations about the gospel.

“The missionaries started to be more direct with invitations to baptism, and it was amazing to see him really start taking it seriously from a personal standpoint, as opposed to just taking it seriously to understand more about the Church,” Owen said. “He really prayed about it, and the decision meant a lot to him.”

Chen’s decision to be baptized didn’t happen overnight; he took time to figure out if this decision was right for him. One of the deciding factors in his conversion was the loving community the Church provided for him.

“Everyone around me was very nice, very supportive, and loved each other, so I wanted to be one of them,” Chen said.

The day of Chen’s baptism was special for all involved. Chen’s teammates and coaches came to support him, including Owen, who baptized him. Chen admitted he was very emotional, making a big spiritual change in his life with all of his friends there to support him.

Owen mentioned that Chen was baptized into a ward different than his, which was sad at first. However, several members of Chen’s new ward came to his baptism in support, and Chen is now very involved as their newest member.

“I don’t even see him on Sunday, and that’s exactly how it should be,” Owen said. “I was an integral role in his conversion process and being the instrument and the vessel through which the Lord can work, but now it’s him. It’s him and the Lord, and he’s in a specific region of the flock that’s taking amazing care of him, and he’s taking good care of them as well.”

Both Chen and Owen have changed significantly since meeting each other in the late summer of 2022. Chen’s spiritual conversion took their friendship to an entirely new level and forged a bond that will never be broken.

“He really did go from my teammate and friend to my brother in Christ, and that manifests itself in every facet of our friendship,” Owen said.

Chen now studies the scriptures on his own every day and sends a daily scripture to a group chat with Owen, some of their other teammates, and a few of Owen’s friends.

“I just feel like I am happier than before, and I’m trying to share my love and support to people around me,” Chen said.

Both Chen and Owen are now stronger friends and disciples of Christ than ever, but Owen didn’t befriend Chen with the goal of conversion in mind. However, he is grateful to have been an instrument in God’s hands to bring Chen to the gospel and wants others to know they can do the same.

“If someone has broken as me can be a vessel through which the Lord’s light and love shines, then it can be true for all of us,” Owen said.

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