Texas A&M football coach Larry Jackson shares LDS conversion story
Near the end of his college career, Jackson met his wife, Amy, and the two of them journeyed to Denver while Jackson played for the Broncos. Amy was born into the LDS faith, and upon moving to Colorado, Jackson began attending Sunday meetings with her.
“She's taking me to the different wards, but I'm not being pressured to join or anything,” Jackson said. “So I go to this ward and I have this feeling, and I don't really know what the feeling is. I can tell you, I'm a young black man living in Denver, Colorado, and there's not a lot of people that look like me in the ward that I'm in. But I feel more comfortable in this church than I did in my own Baptist churches — and I grew up in those churches. ... It was the feeling that I had when I was in the church.”
After a stint with the Broncos, Jackson played for the Arizona Cardinals for a year and then the Miami Dolphins. All the while, he continued attending LDS worship meetings and received the same feeling of peace and love in each congregation. Slowly his conversion to the gospel of Jesus Christ was happening without him even knowing it.
“Heavenly Father is nipping at me and working on me. He's coming at me in every different direction. No matter where I go or where I run, I get this feeling every time I enter the church-house,” Jackson said.
It’s that same feeling that Jackson recognized later when he opened the door to two LDS missionaries who were knocking doors through his neighborhood.
“When I opened the door, the craziest thing happened. That same feeling hit me in the face!” Jackson said. “So I have these two guys standing there looking at me. They're being really nice guys, like they always are, and they go through their spiel and try to convince me of something, but they don't realize that I'm ready for them and I want them to come in.”
Jackson met with the missionaries over the next few months, and in December of 2001, he was baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints while visiting his in-laws in New Orleans. Since then, Jackson has coached at the University of Oklahoma and the University of Houston before returning to Texas A&M University in 2012. During that time, Jackson said that his conversion has been a journey — one that he diligently continues today.
“After my baptism, I was waiting for this big conversion moment,” Jackson said. “It was real easy for me to think that I've gone through the steps and the conversion is supposed to happen — where is it? Then that’s when reality set in, for me, that my conversion is still happening.
“I'm converted every day because every time I read the scriptures, every time I take the time to pray and ask Heavenly Father to be with me, whenever I'm reading the scriptures and I'm going to church and I'm taking the sacrament, I feel that for me it is something that fills in the gaps and converts me every day.”
Jackson still feels that he is young in the gospel, but he has begun preparation, with his wife Amy, to go to the temple to make covenants and receive eternal blessing for themselves and their family.
“To know that there is a place for me and I can someday go back with my family and be sealed together, that's how I'm converted everyday,” Jackson said. “I had a discussion not too long ago, and we were talking about the speed with which you are heading toward Heavenly Father. Sometimes you're sprinting, sometimes walking, sometimes crawling, but you have to be facing the right direction to go the right way. The only way that I'm facing the right direction is when I'm praying, doing family home evening and studying scriptures. I'm closest with Heavenly Father when I immerse myself with him and his words and teachings.
“Conversion is every day. I just want to make sure that I'm going in the right direction whether one day I feel like sprinting or walking or crawling. Even if you stop, don't turn and look the other direction. Keep facing Heavenly Father, and your conversion will continue to happen.”
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