I met Mercy, a seventeen-year-old woman and second year high school student, on one of my visits to the Asokwa Ward seminary class to observe and assist the class. It was her voice that drew my attention to her. She had a unique way of expressing her understanding of the gospel in her voice. However, a few days later, I visited the class again only to find that Mercy had stopped attending. Upon inquiry, I was told that her dad had asked her to stop coming to our Church and seminary. I felt very sad and began to wonder what could have gone wrong.
After the seminary class, I visited Mercy’s house with her seminary teacher. We found Mercy and her mother cooking. We interacted with the family and asked the mother to intervene on Mercy’s behalf to be allowed to come back to our church, but her mother said everything was in the hands of her father, who stays and works in Tema. He only comes to Kumasi when his circumstances permit. We left the house disappointed but we knew our Heavenly Father is well able when we petition Him. I asked Mercy to pray, and we, together with members of her ward, would do the same.
In another visit to her house, I was full of hope that the situation in Mercy’s house had normalized and she had been given the opportunity to go back to church and seminary. But alas, the situation was the same. Mercy had for some time been going to another church with her mother. I felt impressed to talk to the father on the phone, so I asked permission from the mum to speak to her husband. She gladly obliged and gave me his phone number. The phone number stayed with me for days as I prayed to God for help to speak to Mercy’s father.
One fine afternoon and in the quiet of my office, I knelt down to ask God for help to speak with Mercy’s father, whom I had not met. My heart was pounding as I placed the call. I introduced myself to him as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and seminary coordinator over the ward Mercy attended. We had a pleasant conversation on the phone, and I concluded by challenging him to find an LDS Church in Tema to find out what his daughter and son were missing by not attending. He accepted the challenge, but I did not hear from him again. Recently I visited the Asokwa Ward for an YSA program, and there was Mercy, smiling and happily mingling with other young adults. Could my phone call have assisted in her return?
I asked her to share her side of the story.
Having been taught the gospel by the missionaries, my brother and I came to know that the message was true. Although family members and friends criticized us, we were prepared to go on and learn more of the gospel. As time went on, my parents gave us permission to be baptized and become members of the LDS Church.
Then, to our surprise, on July 18, 2015, my dad told us to stop attending the LDS Church. I could not believe my ears! The question I kept on asking myself was why, why would the very person who agreed for me to be baptized, now tell me to leave the Church? In tears I asked him why but he was not prepared to give me an answer. The following day, when we were leaving for Church, my mum told me to tell the members that my brother and I were leaving the LDS Church - but I didn’t.
A week later, when we were about to leave for Church, my dad called me and told me that if I decide to disobey his orders I should be prepared to look after myself. The kind of anger I felt from his tone as he spoke made me afraid. When we went to church that day I told the leaders what my dad had said, and they advised us to obey him. They added that they would come over and speak with him. Unfortunately, they couldn’t meet with him because he had returned to Tema.
From that time forth, I began making excuses, always engaging myself with school activities, and for more than three months I spent my Sundays mostly at school and sometimes at home. When I finally ran out of excuses my brother and I had no option but to go with my mum to her church. I remember our first visit to my mum’s church. The church elders came to interview us and asked, “If you are allowed to go back, would you?” I answered, “Yes!” without hesitation. They began teaching us their doctrines, but we were not prepared to let go of that which we had been taught.
We knew, within ourselves, that one day we would go back. However, the more we tried, the more our chances of going back decreased. But the LDS Church never gave up on us. The leaders kept on interacting with my mum and the family, and the missionaries also went on teaching us. Each visit they encouraged us to pray that my dad would have a change of heart.
One Sunday I was informed of a Church activity that was being held on the following day. I was desirous to attend the program, so I sought permission from my mum and she told me to ask my dad first. That evening when he called I told him of it, but he became so angry that he abruptly ended the call. He didn’t call us for several days, and when he finally did he wasn’t prepared to speak to me. During this troubling time, we prayed and studied our scriptures as the leaders of the Church have taught us. I remember it was February 15, 2016, exactly a week after the program: our dad called and told us that we were free to go back to the LDS Church if that is what we really wanted. We thought he was still angry, so we asked him if he was. He said no. He also added that if anyone asked us why we have returned to Church, we should just tell them that he had permitted us to go back. We became so excited we couldn’t wait to go back to seminary and Church! That joyful feeling has never left us.
The day that we returned back to Church, the words that kept on repeating in my mind were, “It’s good to be home!” We felt great joy and peace in our heart, soul and mind. I thank my Heavenly Father for His tender mercies and for allowing this miracle to happen in our lives. We are also eternally grateful to our earthly father and mother for graciously allowing us to come back to the fold and to be nourished with the good words of Christ. I am glad the members and the missionaries did not give up on us but encouraged, prayed, visited for us during our brief absence from the Church.