It was just a simple letter. But according to André Wong, it touched his heart and produced a miracle that changed his life.
“I smoked, I drank alcohol, and I did drugs,” André explained. “The Church didn’t mean anything to me.”
A member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from birth, it had been more than 20 years since he had been inside a Latter-day Saint Church building. But when his wife visited the self-reliance center at the Fariipiti meetinghouse in French Polynesia last August, things began to change.
Self-reliance centers are available world-wide to help individuals learn the principles, obtain the skills, and develop the habits nessesary to spiritually and temporally support themselves and help their family prosper.
Eri Tauraa, a specialist at the center, recognized the woman’s married name. It turns out that they had once been neighbors and she remembered André.
That’s when Eri decided to write the letter.
She invited him to come to the self-reliance center and take a class. She bore her testimony that he was loved by his Heavenly Father.
“I never really expected him to come,” Eri said. “But the next Monday he was the first one to arrive.”
He never missed a group meeting after that.
Obedience was the focus of the group’s third meeting, which had a deep impact on André.
“This was my moment of real change. I meditated on this at home and realized that I could not continue with the bad things I was doing,” he said. “I felt unworthy.”
But a chance meeting with a friend helped him take the next steps. The friend asked him why he hadn’t prayed for help to make changes to his lifestyle. That night, he did.
“I asked Heavenly Father, 'Can you make tobacco not taste good to me?'” He said he has not smoked since.
Based on the principles that he learned from his self-reliance group, André is now developing a business plan in hopes of some day creating an agricultural cooperative.
In the meantime, he now describes himself as a strong member of the Church who loves to talk to others about the blessings of the Gospel.
“My life has changed enormously,” he said. “It’s a miracle that I could never have imagined.”
Self-reliance centers are open to the general public as well as Church members.
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