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Elder Johnson Teaches to ‘Run Toward the Light’ in New Church Video

In a new Church video, “Running Toward the Light,” Elder Peter M. Johnson narrates his life story of discovering his divine identity through the gospel of Jesus Christ. Screenshot courtesy of Church News.All rights reserved.

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By Sydney Walker, Church News

Young Peter Johnson spent the early years of his life running. Running from violence. Running from darkness. Running in search of his identity.

When he moved from inner-city New York to Hawaii as a teenager, a newfound passion for athletics propelled him down a path of light toward the gospel of Jesus Christ.

“When you’re running from the darkness, it’s a feeling of fear,” he said. “But when you’re running towards the light, it’s hope. You know you’re running to strength and peace and happiness. We all need to be running to the light.”

Elder Peter M. Johnson, a General Authority Seventy currently serving as president of the England Manchester Mission, narrates his story in a new Church video, “Running Toward the Light.”

The 17-minute video, released Thursday, June 10, features Elder Johnson sitting in an auditorium, watching scenes from his life — ending with him standing face-to-face with a version of himself as a boy in the light on stage. Elder Johnson testifies of overcoming the deception, distraction and discouragement of the adversary by understanding one’s divine identity.

After his parents divorced when he was 11 years old, Peter struggled to know who he was and where he belonged.

His search for identity led him to join a gang. When the violence became too much, he joined a rap group with his older brother. But the violence followed. “There must be something better,” he thought.

Still running, still searching, still trying to find himself, Peter was introduced through a friend to the Islamic faith. The Muslim health code kept him away from drug abuse he saw others get involved in, and he began thinking more about Deity. “It was a beginning, it was a start for me,” he said.

At age 15, Peter boarded a plane to Hawaii to live with his mother. He joined the high school basketball team and earned a scholarship to play at Brigham Young University–Hawaii. Seeing parents in the stands cheering on their children reinforced Peter’s desire to have a family — a strong family who loved and supported one another.

In his first semester at BYU–Hawaii, Peter enrolled in a New Testament course and learned how to pray to Heavenly Father in the name of Jesus Christ. He knelt down in his small student apartment and told his Heavenly Father that he loved Him for the first time.

“And then I knew,” Elder Johnson said. “I knew that there was a Father in Heaven, that I was His son. It was a light. It was a light that I felt distilled upon me in a sense that I’d never felt before that time.

“I felt like I knew who I was and I knew who I could become.”

A photo of Elder Peter M. Johnson’s family is shown in the new Church video “Running Toward the Light,” released on Thursday, June 10, 2021. Screenshot courtesy of Church News.All rights reserved.

He no longer had to run from the darkness; he found the light. With repentance and forgiveness in his grasp, he wanted to run toward the light.

The world is filled with many distracting and deceiving voices, Elder Johnson explains in the video. Discouragement comes. “We can overcome those moments in time by strengthening our relationship with our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ,” he said.

Read Elder Johnson’s October 2019 general conference talk, “Power to Overcome the Adversary.”

Copyright 2021 Deseret News Publishing Company

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