Kevin and Tara Bake can’t contain their laughter as they look at a photo of their children taken last January during one of their first “Come, Follow Me” family study sessions.
As his wife taught, Kevin remembers looking up from his scriptures to realize their five children, ages 16-9, had not only checked out mentally, they were on the verge of death by boredom.
One daughter was sprawled out on the floor while another hung backwards over the side of the sofa. Their faces were dull and listless, their eyes glazed over.
Kevin Bake was so amazed at the uninspiring scene that he lifted his phone and took a photo.
“I promise it wasn’t staged or anything,” Tara Bake said. “We were appalled at how little they were paying attention.”
The Latter-day Saint family from Idaho Falls, Idaho, didn’t give up.
Not only did they keep trying, the couple focused on preparing more interesting lessons that sparked good discussions. The parents made time to show their children how to prepare a gospel message.
Four months later, Kevin Bake took another photo. This one shows much different body language from the Bake children. They are sitting on the floor together playing a matching game created by 9-year-old Davin Bake as they learn about Jesus Christ, “The Good Shepherd.” The photo shows the children fully engaged with smiling faces and happy expressions.
For Tara Bake, the second photo is evidence and fulfillment of President Russell M. Nelson’s promise that “changes in your family will be dramatic and sustaining.”
“I do feel a new Spirit in our home,” Tara Bake said. “I don’t know if it’s dramatically changed, but it has changed. I think the children are seeing the joy that can come from the gospel. They are taking more responsibility for their gospel learning. There’s less fighting. This year in general has been a happy year for us.”
One year after The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints introduced the new approach with a home-centered, church-supported “Come, Follow Me” study guide, the Bakes are one of many families and individuals in various life circumstances around the world who are seeing positive results after implementing the “Come, Follow Me” curriculum into their lives.
The following thoughts from Latter-day Saint families living in places from Taiwan to Germany have been edited for length and clarity.
Deanie Gallaher, San Bernardino, California
Despite the fact the Gallahers had tried to read the scriptures as a family, it wasn’t truly “scripture study,” Deanie Gallaher said.
With “Come, Follow Me,” the family has appreciated the curriculum’s thought-provoking questions which have resulted in deeper discussions that have helped them to “know our Savior in a personal way,” Gallaher said. “There is no question that this curriculum is pure revelation from God to strengthen his children.”
Gallaher said the rewards of “Come, Follow Me” are numerous.
“The questions in the lessons are not only thought-provoking but so relevant to our everyday life,” she said. “It has increased the depth of my understanding of how much the Lord loves His children and inspires me to want to improve. … The call from the Lord to ‘Come Follow Me’ is exactly what families need to draw them closer together when society is doing everything in its power to tear them apart. The work is inspired, needful, and cherished by our family.”
Kimberly Pearson, Waco, Texas
The Pearson family includes members ranging in ages from 12 to 87. They start each day with a “Come, Follow Me” devotional at 5 a.m. Kimberly Pearson believes the curriculum has expanded the depth in which the family reads, ponders and discusses the gospel.
“It has impacted us both temporally and spiritually,” she said. “I feel the greatest impact has been for me, personally. I’ve found as I study before we meet as a family, I get inspiration that can then be shared when we meet as a family. I’ve received revelation on how to better improve my family relationships when there are struggles. I’ve deepened my testimony of the Savior, His prophets and apostles and my love and forgiveness of others have grown. It is truly an inspired program.”
Jessica Beevers, Nottingham, England
After some trial and error with three small children, the Beeverses started having “Come, Follow Me” lessons over the dinner table.
“We pray to bless the food and ask for the Spirit as we read,” Jessica Beevers said. “The kids now know that we sit at the table until we’ve finished reading the scriptures and that there are no toys allowed. They’ll usually sit pretty willingly, now that we’ve been doing it this way for a while. They even eat more of their dinner because they have to stay put until scriptures are over anyway!”
Finding time and getting the kids to listen has been a challenge, but consistency has been “absolutely key,” Beevers said, along with having rules.
“We’ve had to be creative,” the young mother said. “I love how it has opened up opportunities for the kids to share things they’ve learned about the scriptures. Because we discuss the same things at home and at Church, it’s easy to prompt them to remember what they talked about.”
Francesca Ligorio, El Paso, Texas
As a convert and the only member in her family, Francesca Ligorio is rarely able to attend church meetings. “Come, Follow Me” helps her feel connected to the Church.
“I’ve learned so much about my Savior and have felt more connected to Him through studying ‘Come, Follow Me.’ My love for Him has grown tremendously. ‘Come, Follow Me’ is also great for introducing doctrine in a streamlined and easy-to-understand way, which is great for me as a convert,” Ligorio said.
“What I love most about ‘Come, Follow Me’ is that it encourages learning through discovery. One is not told what to believe but is encouraged to learn new things by oneself,” she continued. “We are discovering and cultivating a relationship with God and Christ through the word. That, to me, is incredibly important.”
Aimee Barnes, Tucson, Arizona
Studying the “Come, Follow Me” curriculum together helped prepare Aimee and Eric Barnes for their temple marriage.
She had just started dating her future husband when the curriculum was introduced in her young single adult ward. They decided to study together as a couple.
“We made it a habit to study together almost every Sunday for the whole week. A few months into dating we became engaged and still studied together,” Barnes said. “Now as a married couple we study multiple times per week.”
Searching the scriptures has enriched their marriage.
“This curriculum has helped us create a healthy foundation for a celestial marriage and helped us focus on what is really important in life,” she said. “I have felt happiness and confidence as well as comfort learning from the teachings of Christ and His disciples.”
Bruce Forbes, Lebanon, Oregon
Although Bruce Forbes and his wife are empty-nesters, he finds joy in teaching “Come, Follow Me” as a Primary teacher.
“Primary has become a time to share and discuss our weekly discoveries,” Forbes said. “I think it helps the children to realize that someone my age is still learning and discovering. I also have the opportunity to help clarify things they might not have understood at home.”
Carver Wickman, East Brunswick, New Jersey
Carver Wickman is married with a 13-year-old daughter but neither his wife nor daughter are Latter-day Saints. A big aspect of his “Come, Follow Me” routine is recording his thoughts, feelings and impressions in his journal. He used to study during his 85-minute commute to work in New York City each morning, but it was difficult to write his thoughts on a moving train. Now he goes earlier to work so he can study at his work desk a full hour before anyone else arrives.
“This has proven to be a perfect time to read the scriptures and then record my thoughts in my journal,” Wickman said. “There are times when I feel prompted to record my thoughts immediately. If I wait, the promptings are not as clear or sharp. … I cannot imagine ever studying the gospel and not keeping a journal. I have learned that the Holy Ghost can quicken my understanding when reading the scriptures but in ways I did not expect.”
Markus Teubner, Heidelberg, Germany
Markus Teubner likes “Come, Follow Me” because it doesn’t give answers like previous manuals. It has changed the way he studies the gospel.
“The biggest challenge is not to rush through the material but to let it sink in, to read and ponder,” he said. “I usually spend the most time writing things down, thinking and pondering.”
Jacob Ong, Tainan, Taiwan
For making time to study “Come, Follow Me,” the Jacob Ong family has felt an increased love for the scriptures and each other, Ong said.
“We are more unified and have found answers from the New Testament to help us rely on the Savior as we face our challenges,” said the husband and father of four. “We have remarked many times that we are so surprised that whoever wrote the manual knew we were going to need to hear those specific words to meet that week’s challenges. I now realize that the Spirit teaches us what we need to know and the author of this manual is the Lord. He knows what we need.”
It has warmed Ong’s heart to see his children study, record and share what they have learned. One son told his father that studying “Come, Follow Me” has helped him to answer questions from nonmembers. The family focus on the scriptures has helped transform their home into a “sanctuary of faith,” he said.
“Studying the “Come, Follow Me” curriculum has helped our family with our daily challenges and taught us to focus on the Savior with all our hearts,” Ong said. “Studying ‘Come, Follow Me’ is essential for our family to receive the revelation that we need to survive in this world.”
Rochelle Hale, Simi Valley, California
For Rochelle Hale, “Come, Follow Me” has been “a wonderful treasure chest.”
After studying with her husband on Sunday afternoon, the older couple meets with a group of friends every week for additional learning. Hale also prepares a lesson as a Sunday School teacher.
“The ideas, insights and testimonies from others help enhance our understanding of the scriptures and how we apply Christ’s teachings to ourselves,” she said. “We thought we were both well-rounded in the gospel and had a good mastery of the scriptures, but “Come, Follow Me” has exceeded our expectations and vastly improved our gospel study habits, together and individually.”
Hale’s only wish is that more families, especially those with young children, would give “Come, Follow Me” a try. It’s also saddens her to see those not participating in the home study unprepared for a discussion in Sunday School.
“We know several adults who don’t recognize the value of this program,” she said.
Kent Ashton, Peoria, Arizona
The “Come, Follow Me” curriculum holds a special place in the Ashton’s heart as their son, Brother Brian K. Ashton, helped develop the curriculum while serving as second counselor in the former Sunday School general presidency.
With their large family grown and gone, the Ashtons study both individually and have organized a group for other empty-nester couples to meet and discuss the lessons.
“This has been a wonderful experience as the discussions are rich and lively, filled with the Spirit,” Kent Ashton said. “Testimonies are often born about principles learned from our combined life experiences, and we leave with a sense of fulfillment that lingers through the week and we look forward to joining together the next Sabbath.”
Cathy Liggett, Greenville, Texas
After eating family dinner together, Cathy Liggett’s extended family has “Church at home” as they study “Come, Follow Me.” They take turns in leading weekly discussions and delight in the chance to study together.
Among the group is a family member who has excommunicated many years ago who is struggling to make it back, Liggett said.
“This has been a tremendous experience for this person to open up and discuss the gospel in our family setting,” she said.
Since her mother’s death, Liggett’s father has seemed lost and withdrawn at times but is showing improvement as he faithfully attends and contributes to their discussions.
“We love ‘Come, Follow Me,’ and we love learning together,” Liggett said.
Matt Laker, Brentwood, Tennessee
For Matt Laker, the best part of “Come, Follow Me” is hearing his wife teach the simple doctrine of the gospel to their three sons as they sit outside on the patio.
“I have seen my sons feel that what my wife is teaching is true and applicable to their individual lives,” Laker said. “We also feel that the curriculum points the way and invites discussion that is best tailored to our family. … My wife and I have learned that the Lord has taught us what to say and when and how to say it.”
Laker serves as bishop in his ward, and although it can be difficult to find the energy for a lesson, he knows it’s worth it. Learning about the Savior’s life has strengthened the Laker family as their oldest son, Gage, has special needs.
“We love studying the life of our Savior together, and we have found a powerful spirit and bond that has formed as we have taught each other of the Savior, His life, miracles and His perfect love for us,” Laker said. “We have been most touched as a family to study the Savior’s ability to heal us physically and spiritually. ‘Come Follow Me’ has helped us all feel spiritually that we will in reality all be together forever with perfect bodies, perfect knowledge and the ability to obtain all the Father has. … It truly has been a blessing.”