By Cindy R. Williams
Robin O’Bannon, of Gilbert Greenfield Stake, searched her entire life to be closer to God.
“As a little girl, as soon as I heard about Jesus Christ, I wanted to know more. He was more real to me than Mickey Mouse, and, believe me, that is saying something,” she says.
“For as long as I can remember, around Easter, my mother took me to see plays or movies surrounding the crucifixion, and every year I would cry my eyes out watching them. I felt as though I was being forced to watch someone I loved be unjustly murdered over and over again.”
As a child, she got in “trouble” for asking questions leaders couldn’t answer like: “Why would a good person who was never taught about Christ or ‘saved’ be sent to ‘hell’ when they died, while clergy who taught about Christ, but did unspeakable things have a first-class ticket to the Pearly Gates?” “Why wouldn’t Christ share himself with other people in the world besides the people near where he grew up?” “What happens after we die?” or “Why is the Trinity a mystery of the church?”
The answers seemed incomplete as she explored different religions.
“I had given up any hope of finding the pure love I knew existed –on this planet anyway. I [knew] that God was smarter than all of us … and that He alone would answer my questions when my time on this earth was over,” says Sister O’Bannon.
In October 2010, she read The Shack, a novel about a man who shuts out God after suffering a tragic loss, but later reunites with three separate personages: God, the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ.
“My desire to know God in this real and personal way rekindled. I prayed and cried in earnest, asking God to show me the way. I was willing to do anything to get to Him.”
In November 2010, she moved to Arizona, due to chronic health issues.
“I moved next to a lovely family and met Renae Lukens. She asked me if I had a church, I said ‘No, but I sure do love Jesus.’ Renae said, ‘So do I. We’re going to get along great.’”
When Sister Lukens sent a group of men, including two missionaries, to help unload the moving trailer, Sister O’Bannon invited them to dinner.
“I had no idea what LDS was. The missionaries prayed before dinner, shared a spiritual thought after dinner and I just wanted to know more.”
Sister O’Bannon was baptized in January 2011. Her two sons, Sean and Patrick, followed one month later.
“A year later, I received my endowments and, three months after that, I was sealed to my deceased parents for time and eternity.”
She continues, “I know this church is true. If I could share anything with those who are seeking what is true, I would say, ‘Don’t give up. Don’t you dare settle for something that is “close,” just keep searching. That longing within you is the real deal.”
Sister O’Bannon enthusiastically shares her testimony, saying, “I have loved God and Jesus Christ … my whole life and even when I was doing dumb things or was in the darkest pits of despair and severe illness, I never believed they had forgotten me. My only doubts were that I might not figure out how to get to Them. I am so grateful I didn’t give up. To the very core of my soul, I love this gospel, I love my Father, my beloved brother and exemplar and the Holy Ghost; and I can feel their love for me and I want to tell the whole world.”