When Johnny Shuping was sixteen, he met missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The glow they carried with them attracted him. He says, “They were looking for somebody to teach, and they found me. We set an appointment, and my spiritual awakening began.”
However, not long after beginning the lessons, Johnny's father reminded him that their family belonged to a different church. He refused to allow Johnny to be baptized and insisted that he attend the family church. Finally, Johnny and his father reached a compromise: Johnny would be allowed to attend the LDS church only after he had attended his family's church first. He recalls, “So for the next two years, I woke up early on Sunday mornings to attend the 7:00 am service at the local chapel in town and would then run swiftly over to Station View to make it on time for my sacrament and priesthood meetings.”
When Johnny was old enough to serve a mission, he had completed his first year of university education. Because of his excellent grades, he had received financial aid to pay for his schooling. However, if he left school to serve a mission, he would lose his scholarship, and all his work to get good grades would have been in vain. Johnny took a leap of faith: he decided to earn money and prepare for a mission.
With no support for his decision at home, he treasured the support and encouragement he received from the Wainwright family. He was grateful for the important role they played in his life for the two years he prepared for his mission. They were almost as excited as he was when he submitted his mission papers and received his call to the Uganda Kampala Mission.
Johnny diligently served his mission, even extending his time there. But eventually, he knew he had to return home, mend his relationships with his family, and figure out what do about school.
After his return, Johnny enrolled in the university, knowing he had a huge outstanding debt from previous years, since his scholarship was invalidated. He recalls, “Discouraged a bit and not knowing what to do, I felt I should get to campus one morning to check exactly how much I owed. The lady at the administration center printed out the account, and I anxiously scanned through it, looking for the “Balance Due” section on the bill. I couldn't find it. What I found instead was, “Credit. “ I asked the lady at the desk to explain to me what that meant. She looked into the details and found that some financial aid program had come across my grades and, impressed with what they saw, paid the entire outstanding fee I owed the school. Furthermore, the amount listed under the “Credit” section was money owed to me for my good grades. What a tender mercy! I sat there, drowning in amazement at the thought that I was debt-free and “...confused at the grace that so fully He proffers me.”
“I remembered President Ezra Taft Benson's promise that “those who put the Lord first will find that all things will fall into their proper place. I experienced the truth of that promise.” Johnny has since earned his degree (with Honors) in Communications, and is preparing to launch his own enterprise. He has never regretted that when it was difficult to do, he took a leap of faith and trusted in the Lord.