Learn how a simple invitation changed one family forever
Scott Duncan could tell
Somehow, amid tackling math equations and writing essays, his faith was also strengthened. “It’s taught me to be a more complete disciple of Jesus Christ,” Scott explained. “I know how to love differently and to serve differently and to learn differently.” Scott knew right away that BYU-Pathway was worth sharing, and he also knew exactly who he wanted to share it with.
For the past 15 years, Scott had been trying to connect Alan Wooden, his brother-in-law, with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Alan grew up a devout Baptist and always politely declined Scott’s invitations to learn more about the Church. When Scott suggested education through BYU-Pathway, however, Alan quickly accepted. “You can’t pass up a gift like that,” Alan said. “It was all part of me trying to be a better person.”
Alan discovered newfound faith in the courses and weekly gatherings and began studying gospel principles. Remembering Alan’s journey, Scott said, “He learned about the Book of Mormon. As he studied each week, he grew to understand this gospel and what it could mean in his life and in the life of his family.”
Alan could also feel and see the growth in himself. “Not only did it help me become a better student, but a better father and a better husband,” he said. These changes inspired him to embrace the Church and get baptized.
Alan largely credits his conversion to the support of both Scott and his gathering group. When his health took an unexpected turn due to a brain aneurysm, his gathering group didn’t miss a beat. While he was hospitalized, they moved the gathering to his bedside so he wouldn’t fall behind. “[Their support] only confirmed that I was going in the right direction,” Alan said.
Alan’s health challenges continued to upend his life. He had three brain surgeries, lost his job, and even became legally blind. But he was still determined to be baptized. On May 11, 2020 — less than 24 hours after Alan was released from another hospitalization — Scott baptized Alan. It was a landmark in their journey of friendship and helping each other become better disciples of Jesus Christ. Members of Alan’s gathering group came to watch and celebrate Alan’s baptism as well.
Since Alan’s baptism, he has also baptized his own son and received the Melchizedek Priesthood. If you had told him a few years ago that he would be serving in the Church and teaching in BYU-Pathway gatherings, the old Alan wouldn’t have believed it. The new Alan, though, is cherishing these opportunities to give back.
With newfound hope and faith, he is quick to encourage others to join BYU-Pathway: “Any sweat that you put into BYU-Pathway, you’re going to get back out ten-fold. Believe me, I couldn’t make this up.”
Scott said, “BYU-Pathway is an opportunity and blessing to lift and to strengthen not only ourselves but also each other.”
Stefanie Diran-Kromopawiro, Suriname
“After my divorce, I lost focus of the Lord’s path. A sister invited me to join BYU-Pathway and promised it would change my life. After joining, I started my repentance process, got married, and received my temple recommend. Later, I was called to be the Relief Society president and now serve as an institute teacher. BYU-Pathway brought me back to the Lord’s wonderful path.”
Neh Lawra, Cameroon
“I invited my little brother to join BYU-Pathway and, since then, my family has never been the same. My little brother told me that BYU-Pathway is the best thing that happened in his life and that he wants to join the Church. I have been praying for a miracle and that miracle is BYU-Pathway.”
Lavinia Tafuna, Tonga
“I wasn’t an active member when I first heard about PathwayConnect. It was God’s way to find me, His lost sheep. BYU-Pathway shaped my life. Those three semesters were the best times in school I have ever had. I learned so much from my institute classes that I went back to church.”