Who is Joseph Smith

image of missionary and member

Swamidasan Daniel Thangaraj was born in Mumbai, India. He worked for Larsen and Toubro as a mechanical engineer for most of his life. Daniel was raised in a Christian family and officially became an Evangelist when he turned 18 years old, following in his father’s footsteps. For nearly 50 years he preached, sang songs and translated songs, scripture and sermons from Tamil or Hindi into English. He preached with “Hallelujahs” and “Praise the Lord,” often shaking a tambourine over his head. He never received a salary for his volunteer work as a pastor and prominent leader over several large congregations.

After the death of his wife in November 2018, Daniel’s daughter Sarah said, “Come, Daddy, come”, inviting him to come and stay a while with her family in Bengaluru. In May 2019 he came to stay for a time at her apartment. Around their Brigade Metropolis apartment are beautiful grounds, trees and walkways. She encouraged her father to take walks as often as possible.

On a cloudy day in early June, Daniel decided to walk out to the main road. On Whitefield Road he noticed a church without a cross that said, “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – Visitors Welcome”. “I was so happy it said, ‘Visitors Welcome,” he exclaimed. This was a rare find in a country where Christian churches are a minority. He hurried over to the security guard and asked in Hindi, “Main prardhana karna chahta hoon,” or in English, “I want to pray.” The security guard understood and escorted him to the chapel and asked him to turn out the lights when he was finished.

Being a singer, Daniel noticed a hymn book and began going through the pages. He happened to stop on hymn number 26, Joseph Smith’s First Prayer, “Oh how lovely was the morning…Suddenly a light descended…Joseph this is my beloved; Hear Him! Oh, how sweet the word! Joseph’s humble prayer was answered as he listened to the Lord...” After reading through the hymn he asked himself, “Who is Joseph Smith?”

When he came out of the chapel, he asked the missionaries, “In Genesis Chapter 37 it talks about seventeen-year-old Joseph, the son of Jacob who was a dreamer, but who is Joseph Smith?” As their appointment schedule was full that evening, they made an appointment to talk about it the next day.

Daniel said with excitement, “They taught me about The Book of Mormon. I learned about Prophets Mormon and Moroni and the prophecy about scriptures written on gold plates that were hid up that would come forth in due time. In 1820, fourteen-year-old young boy Joseph Smith saw God in a forest and was instructed where the Gold Plates were buried. God told him to translate them into the Book of Mormon.”

Daniel was excited that the book was translated in languages he reads such as Tamil, Hindi and English. He finished reading the Book of Mormon in only two months and testified, “It is really the word of God.”

Daniel described the Book of Mormon as the word of righteousness. He emphasized that the Old Testament and New Testament are the first and second witnesses and The Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ, is the third witness mentioned in 2 Corinthians 13:1, “In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.”

Daniel says he now knows that the power and authority of God have been restored exclaiming, “I know it is true. God has given me the truth.”

When he first visited the Church, Daniel was inspired when he saw no statues, as it resonated with his belief that there should be no “graven image” in places of worship. For over three months he would come to the church daily to study and pray. During this time, he met many visitors, shared his testimony and gave out Books of Mormon.

“I’m very blessed. I came with crying because my wife was not there. Now I am going back with gladness and the Spirit of God. The Lord Jesus is my Savior, He is my Redeemer, He is my King and He is my beloved God.”  

Brother Daniel was baptized in Bengaluru and later moved to Mumbai where he attends the Mumbai Branch.