Growing up in a Catholic home, Danny De La Cruz, a freshman studying architecture, knew religion would always play a pivotal role in his life.
Being raised with a core belief in Jesus Christ, the Bible and other common Christian doctrines made him crave more.
In August of 2019, when he was a senior in high school in Columbus, Ohio, De La Cruz’s girlfriend at the time invited him to attend a church service.
“Growing up Catholic, we wouldn’t really go to church except for Easter and Christmas,” De La Cruz said. “So it was pretty exciting, and even a little stressful, to see what other churches were like outside of what I already knew.”
After the classes and meetings that Sunday morning, he was approached by two missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Sister Christensen and Sister Price. He agreed to meet with them and started to receive lessons.
“If I’m being completely honest, I was extremely skeptical when they first told me about how Joseph Smith saw God and Jesus Christ,” De La Cruz said. “But the missionaries gave me a Book of Mormon and would assign me different chapters to read in between visits, and that really helped.
It wasn’t an overnight change of heart, but De La Cruz eventually started to recognize a calming feeling that what he was reading, experiencing and being taught was true.
“One day I was just pondering the things in my life: the people I was starting to surround myself with, the feelings that were emitting from those people and generally those new emotions,” De La Cruz said. “I then started to ask myself if I would be having such strong emotions if these things weren’t true. Would I be feeling this inner peace if The Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith and everything else wasn’t true? After that thought crossed my mind, it kind of hit me and made me realize that everything I was learning was completely real.”
De La Cruz was baptized on Jan. 24, 2020, and confirmed the following day as a member of the Church, but there was still adversity. His family didn’t support his change of church, and he noticed that support was hard to find even with other members of the Church.
Despite this adversity, he has still managed to recognize the blessings throughout his trials.
“Those first few months after having been baptized weren’t easy,” De La Cruz said. “Had anyone said to me as a kid that I would be baptized as a Mormon, I would not have taken that person seriously for a second. I’ve learned that the gospel really is all about change, and the missionaries helped me to change my ways.”
De La Cruz’s journey to find the church made him appreciate the gospel and living a spiritual life.
“I strongly believe that if I had been born into the Church, my testimony wouldn’t be nearly as strong,” De La Cruz said. “I genuinely feel that if it hadn’t been necessary for me to struggle in a search for the truth, for the light of Christ, I wouldn’t have appreciated it as much. And that’s just how we are as humans. We tend to enjoy and appreciate more the things that don’t come very easy.”
Moroni 10:3-5 states, “Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men.”
De La Cruz invites all others who are struggling with a testimony and conviction if God really exists to take this advice and to truly apply it.
“Something that I encourage everyone struggling with a testimony to do, especially every young person, is to take some time away from everyone and to just go and be by yourself,” De La Cruz said. “Sometimes you have to go through the hard things on your own without anybody guiding you, and that really worked for me.”