Imagine it’s your first day at a new school and you don’t know anyone. You’ve also decided to switch your area of study from literature to quantum physics. Your new classmates walk in, happily chatting about how excited they are for the lesson. The teacher enters and starts to talk about new things — things that you have no idea about! You begin to sweat, to palpitate, and you look around, hoping to find someone who feels the same way like you do. Unfortunately, all of them are beaming and happily exclaiming “I know quantum physics is true!” You probably get where I’m going with this.
Isn’t that scary? Wouldn’t that make you run out of the room in a heartbeat, question your decision to shift, and decide to never come back again? But how many times must new converts feel just this way?
President Gordon B. Hinckley once famously said that every convert needs “a friend, a responsibility, and nurturing with the good word of God.” Isn’t it interesting that out of all of the factors he could have mentioned, the first thing that a convert needs is a friend? I asked three new converts how sincere friendships really help new members stay.
Sincere Friendships Help New Converts Know They’re Not Alone
Cassie was introduced to the Church by her friend Jane. Although it took some time for her to agree to baptism, she already knew that what she was about to do was right. However, there was a little problem: Cassie already had some impressions about Mormons. “I always thought everyone was super rich because whenever I saw them going to church, they always wore really nice clothes. I thought I couldn’t ever blend in.”
Like being in a quantum physics class, our new converts often are afraid of not being able to acquaint themselves with other members. Most of the time, this results to them feeling alone. What do we do to help them overcome this? Let’s reach out to them. Let’s introduce them to other friends and let them know they’re not alone. “I am blessed that I already have one friend in the Church. Jane introduced me to her best friends, and they eventually became my friends, too. Their friendship sustained me through the years of my membership.”
Sincere Friendships Help New Converts Understand the Gospel Better
Isn’t it comforting when someone cares enough to help you understand something that is totally new to you? Imagine how grateful you would be if one of your quantum physics classmates were to approach you and offer to help you with difficult topics? New converts can learn and know the gospel better if they have a friend who is always willing to teach and bear their testimony.
When my best friend, Chaelyn, was baptized into the Church, she needed new convert lessons as a follow-up to her missionary discussions. Whenever we introduced her to a new lesson, she always asked so many new questions. There were times when she would ask me questions non-stop. Because she had a friend who was willing to help her get to know the gospel better, she was able to understand it more, which helped her stay. What could have happened if she had no one to answer her questions?
Sincere Friendships Help New Converts Look Forward To Sundays
Diana was a new convert that stood out from the rest. One thing that made me notice her immediately was her closeness with the other young single adults. You could really see her eyes glow whenever she got to sit close to her newfound friends. When I asked her how her YSA friends helped her transition in the Church, she quipped “They make me excited for Sundays!”
Imagine how different it would have been if no one had bothered to befriend her. How different would it have been if she felt alone every Sunday?
Sincere Friendships Help New Converts Feel Less Judged
Conrad is a young man who was recently introduced to the Church. At first, he was quiet and shy and refused to talk at all. He said that he was afraid members would judge him because of his past. Then came Roy. He discovered that Conrad loves drawing manga (Japanese comics) characters, a hobby he also enjoys. He approached Conrad, talked with him about Japanese animes, and the rest was history. Today, Conrad and Roy are inseparable and Conrad has bloomed into an all-around young man in the Church.
Sincere Friendship Help New Members Stay
Indeed, the gospel is simple, and the answer to the question “How can we make new members stay?” is also simple: be their true, sincere friend. May we always remember the reminder from the “For the Strength of Youth” pamphlet:
“Everyone needs good and true friends. They will be a great strength and blessing to you. They will influence how you think and act, and even help determine the person you will become. They will help you be a better person and will make it easier for you to live the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Whenever we see a new member who’s alone, may we follow the example of the Savior who said “I have called you friends” — be that person’s friend.