Convert follows twisting path to baptism

Friday, Mar. 29, 2024
Convert follows twisting path to baptism + Enlarge
Jordan Ring-Sakabe, shown with one of his daughters, is looking forward with joy to his baptism at the Easter Vigil.
By Linda Petersen
Intermountain Catholic

DRAPER — Jordan Ring-Sakabe will be baptized into the Church during this year’s Easter Vigil at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church. It’s a significant step on a life journey that led him away from religion, down some interesting roads, and back to religion.

Growing up in Utah County, Ring-Sakabe was raised as a faithful member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He served a church mission in Japan, but during a study abroad experience he began to question some of the church’s teachings. In particular, he could not reconcile the church’s history and doctrine with his changing beliefs regarding chastity. As he looked around at the major religions, he saw that most of them had issues with sex abuse among their leadership and this left him angry inside, he said.

“I thought, ‘Maybe it’s just better for me to figure this out on my own,’” he said.

Forsaking not only the faith of his youth but all religion, Jordan Ring-Sakabe decided to pursue meaning elsewhere. Initially he thought being politically active would bring him what he was looking for. Moving to Seattle, Wash., he became involved in the left-wing political movement there.

“Politics became my religion,” he said, but after a while he became disillusioned.

“It wasn’t Utopia at all,” Ring-Sakabe said. “The things that were promised by left-wing politicians – such as socialist government – were not working out. What I thought would be a better living situation and a better political approach [wasn’t].”

Ring-Sakabe started to search for meaning. An unexpected experience where his mother, a member of LDS Church, had information imparted to her through the spirit broke his atheism and let him know God existed, he said.

When he and his wife Yuki, a native of Japan he met at the University of Utah, settled in Saratoga Springs to raise their family, he began looking for a church to join.

“Ever since becoming an atheist I thought, ‘I have become less charitable, I have become more suspicious of homeless people and strangers. I am more isolated; I have less charity in my heart, and I could stand to have a community,’” he said.

He looked into several churches but ultimately joined none of them. Meanwhile, he worked as a high school teacher before changing careers to become a software engineer. When the company he worked for folded, he looked for employment. During this time, he painted a portrait of Jesus Christ as an Easter gift for his parents.

“I felt so good; there were so many times where, when I was painting that portrait of Jesus, I just wept intensely” as he gained an understanding of the depths of God’s love for his children, he said.

The experience made him consider dedicating his time to painting portraits of Christ, but at first he dismissed the idea.

“I thought, ‘Lord, I’m thinking that you’re wanting me to paint for you, but my wife will divorce me if I become an oil painter right now,’” he said.

This fear was immediately replaced with a strong sense of confidence. He trusted in the Spirit and has since seen success in his new venture.  A portrait he completed of Christ holding hands with his daughter Luna sold for $17,000 in December, and he has received several commissions.

“The Lord seriously provided and made a way for the painting career to happen,” he said. “I ended up making more money than I would have with my software developer’s salary.”

Still hungering for deeper meaning in his life, Ring-Sakabe stumbled across the work of Catholic apologists on the internet. The apologists were “really smart, really well-studied and really compelling,” he said.

Eventually he prayed to know God’s will for him and got the answer that he should become a Catholic.

“My thought was, ‘Are you serious? That Catholic Church,” which undertook the Crusades and elected a pope from the notorious Borgia family, “‘that’s your true Church?’” he asked, and received an unapologetic affirmative response.

“It stunned me because it was so clear,” he said.

Ring-Sakabe found that he liked attending Mass; a parishioner gave him study materials and introduced him to others who could help him.

“I was received with huge open arms,” he said, which led him to start RCIA last September. His upcoming baptism will have great meaning for him, he said.

“I realized that just because a church has sinners and just because a church has leadership that are sinners does not at all say anything about its truth claims,” he said of his journey back to faith. “God is not showing us how he only picks perfect men to rule his Church, but he picks imperfect people, and he works with them and he’s able to then change lives, and his power is redemptive.”

Ring-Sakabe hopes to have his family join him in the faith. Through his journey Yuki has become interested in Christianity, and he wants his two young daughters to be baptized as well, he said.

For questions, comments or to report inaccuracies on the website, please CLICK HERE.
© Copyright 2024 The Diocese of Salt Lake City. All rights reserved.