We live in a world where the truth is hard to find. Many honest seekers are looking for peace and serenity and the purpose of life. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints offers the peace that all mankind are searching for, as it answers the questions of who we are and where we come from.
Hartman Rector, Jr. and his wife Connie were baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in February of 1952. Seventeen years later, he was called as a General Authority into the First Council of the Seventy for the LDS Church. His conversion into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is compelling, as he is a man who since the early days of his life sought to know the “truth.” Below is an account of his conversion story:
From the period of my first recollection I had an almost insatiable desire to know the “truth.”
As a small boy I tried to read the Bible, but I found it to be very difficult. I’m sure I never progressed beyond Genesis in the Old Testament, but I did read more of the New Testament. I can’t remember anyone else in our home reading the scriptures, but my maternal grandmother had a big old picture Bible at her house. Once my appetite was whetted, I kept after her to read it to me. About three times each year I visited in her small home in Renick, Missouri. Many of my evenings there were spent on her lap. With her arms around me she would hold the Bible, and after reading the scriptures, she would give me her simplified interpretation.
Through the roots that were established in Rector’s childhood, his receptivity to spiritual matters was heightened. His family knew that the world was getting increasingly evil, but nonetheless, they attended church every week. Rector served in the Navy and married his childhood sweetheart, Connie. She. too, was a diligent seeker of truth. Rector continues:
The desire to know the truth was intensified as I studied and prayed and as I attended first one church and then another, but there was something missing in all of them for me. I formulated my own hodge-podge of a philosophy about life and death as I read numerous books and articles and listened to assorted sermons. But as I pondered the New Testament I found much that I could not understand. I decided that all religions were “man-made” and that therefore mine could be as valid as any other. My philosophy was that God does, in fact, exist, though what kind of a being he is I could not fathom. I believed that death was not the dreaded experience which everyone seemed to fear but that each individual did, in fact, go on living somewhere else, and also that rewards would be commensurate with works.
During Operational Training as a Navy aviator I attended a large Protestant church twice each Sunday and once during the week for the eight months of my stay in Jacksonville, Florida. I went there because I was sure the minister was going to give me the answers to my deepest questions. He was a tremendous preacher, and had one of the largest congregations in the city. I talked personally with him several times and he invited me to his home. I felt he came very close to answering my questions, but I was still dissatisfied. The questions which most bothered me were:
1. Why did Jesus Christ have to be crucified?
2. How can his sacrifice really do something for me?
3. What can we expect after death?
4. Was there another life before mortality?
5. What is the real purpose of earth life?
6. How can one gain strength to live the “good life,” or spiritual life, while living in a materialistic world?
[Upon marriage, I had to go to Korea for the Navy]. No sooner had I departed and my wife had moved our possessions into our rented home than the Mormon missionaries came by and knocked on her door. They were using the poll technique of tracting, and many of the questions on which they “polled” her were the very questions we had pondered together, so she was very interested.
In one of her letters to me she mentioned that two young men had called on her and asked a lot of questions about religion, to which they also then seemed to have all the answers. When I returned home from Hawaii, on the first evening Connie, my wife, told me the Joseph Smith story. When she said that he had had visions and revelations it seemed so ridiculous that I laughed in her face, and this made her cry. I then saw how much the message really meant to her and I relented and said, “Well, the least I can do is read some of the material they left for you to study.”
No sooner did I start to read the Book of Mormon than I knew that at last I had found that for which I had been searching.
I had prayed one simple prayer to the Lord for many years: “Dear God, please show me the truth. Please lead me to the truth.” I had sought truth in many places. Now here were two young men, Elders Teddy Raban and Ronald Flygare, boys really—their grammar was poor, their diction less than perfect, they had no great store of worldly knowledge—but they brought the truth right into my living room. And although they were very young, they had two great powers with them, truth and God. I could not argue against what they offered, neither did I wish to.
I went aboard ship [to Korea] on the last day of 1951 and took with me a triple combination (Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price). One evening in February I heard an announcement over the public address system aboard ship, that Latter-day Saint services would be held in the crew library at 7:30 p.m. At the appointed hour I went to the library where I found four young men who looked very much like the two young missionaries who had knocked upon my door in San Diego. I told them I was not a member of the Church but was interested in studying about it. They welcomed me with much enthusiasm and also with many answers to my questions. However, when I asked them for page numbers for their answers they were unable to accommodate me.
When we arrived in Japan in the latter part of February 1952, the group decided that I was ready for baptism. So they accompanied me to the Japan Mission home where I announced to the mission president’s counselor that I was ready for baptism. After an interview which took an hour and a half, I finally received a recommend for baptism. On February 25, 1952, in the garden behind the Japan Mission home in 30-degree weather, seven thousand miles from my home in Missouri, I was baptized. Later I was confirmed a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. My search had come to an end. My wife was baptized four days later in San Diego, California.
I am a witness before God that he lives and he hears and answers prayers, for he has heard and answered mine. I bear testimony that Jesus is the Christ, and that he lives; that he has re-established his true Church upon the earth in modern times through the Prophet Joseph Smith-great, great prophet that he was; and that the true Church of Jesus Christ is upon the earth today, presided over by a living prophet who has been chosen by the Lord for this particular purpose. These things I do not merely believe; I know with that sure witness which can come only from the Holy Ghost, through which all gospel truths can be known.
The testimony and conversion of Hartman Rector Jr. and his wife is evidence of the power that the Spirit of the Lord holds. It is a witness of the peace the gospel brings. The search ends with the gospel of Jesus Christ. I invite everyone to visit Mormon.org, request a free copy of the Book of Mormon and find missionaries near you. They will answer your questions and help you find the peace you are looking for in Christ.
This article was written by Mady Clawson, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Mady Clawson is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (“Mormon” single adult), with a zest for the gospel. She currently studies English, with an emphasis in Professional Writing and Communications at BYU-Idaho.