When Peter Reis first heard the Joseph Smith story, he found it difficult to believe. A latter-day boy prophet?
But after reading and gaining a testimony of the Book of Mormon, he had no problem accepting Joseph Smith and the restoration of the gospel.Brother Reis, an insurance agent and now stake mission president in the Mesa Arizona Central Stake, first learned about the Church while living in Park Ridge, N.J., with his wife, Anne, and two of their five children.
In the fall of 1977, he began questioning whether the church they were attending was the true church on earth. He queried a Mormon business associate, Stan Benfell, about LDS beliefs, but he was skeptical upon learning about Joseph Smith. He so admired the ethics of Brother Benfell, however, that he didn't close the doors to further investigation into the Church.
In June 1978, while on a business trip to Hawaii, he dropped by the Hawaii Temple Visitors Center.
"I remember paying a dollar for a Book of Mormon," he recalled. "I took it home and started to read it and started to pray about it. Over a period of time, I received a witness that the Book of Mormon was scripture, translated through the power of God. Once I had a testimony of the Book of Mormon, I had no problem with the Joseph Smith story."
But the insurance businessman wasn't yet ready for baptism. For the next year, he studied the gospel and hoped for his wife to gain a testimony also.
Finally, in the summer of 1979, he and Anne were attending a business convention in Florida. "We were having dinner together. I had a very strong manifestation of the Holy Spirit that it would be all right to join the Church. I shared that with my wife, and she said this would be no problem. She would accept that," he said.
He was baptized Sept. 22, 1979. His youngest daughter, Leslie, then 12, joined the following year. Then the Reis family moved to Mesa, Ariz., in March 1981. On Nov. 5, 1983, Brother Reis' son, 18-year-old Peter, joined the Church. One week later, Peter, a newly ordained priest, baptized his mother, who now serves in the Relief Society.
"The Book of Mormon is responsible for my testimony and it's responsible for members of our family joining the Church," Brother Reis told the Church News. "I have a testimony that the Book of Mormon is the word of God, as revealed by His prophets." - Julie A. Dockstader