There's a reason why Adrian Ochoa can move comfortably among folks from different cultures, backgrounds, businesses. The recently called second counselor of the Young Men General Presidency is, himself, a product of diverse worlds.
Yes, he was born in San Francisco and spent much of his youth in Los Angeles, speaking English and experiencing the opportunities and challenges offered by a sprawling city. But he also called the rural communities of Chihuahua, Mexico, his second childhood home. It was there with his Spanish-speaking grandparents that he rode his horse, ran with his dog and breathed "different air."
"I was able to be in touch with very humble people," he said of his split Los Angeles/Chihuahua experience. "I learned to understand all kinds of people."
Brother Ochoa's background has also afforded him a personal understanding of those who might be less active in the Church and find themselves in need of a mentor or friend.
Young Adrian Ochoa's grandmother was an active Church member and taught her young grandson about the gospel. He was baptized when he turned 8 but was never really involved in the Church while growing up. He was 25 years old and living in Mexico when he was befriended by the full-time missionaries. Despite his young age, Adrian was already a successful businessman, overseeing more than 200 employees. Still, he had not forgotten his grandmother's gospel teachings.
At the missionaries' urging, Adrian read the Book of Mormon for the first time. He was moved by an ancient prophet's teachings about humility found in Alma 32:15: "He that humbleth himself, and repenteth of his sins, and endureth to the end, the same shall be blessed."
Adrian felt strongly that the Lord was eager for him to be humble so he could be blessed. He was anxious to "endure to the end."
"I decided I wanted to embrace the Church and its fullness and I never looked back," he said.
Despite his professional responsibilities, Brother Ochoa wanted to contribute in the Church. He approached his local priesthood leaders in Mexico about serving a traditional, full-time mission. Instead, he was called to utilize his business acumen as a public communications missionary in the area.
"I was able to preach the gospel working with media and the government," he said.
While laboring in Monterrey, Mexico, Brother Ochoa attended a stake conference and heard the testimony of a new member named Nancy Villareal. Impressed by the young woman's enthusiastic convictions, Brother Ochoa introduced himself following the meeting and the two became friends.
Nancy had been introduced to the Church by missionaries who knocked on her family's door. They asked if they could share their message of the restored gospel. The young accounting student's testimony of the gospel began to take shape as she studied the Book of Mormon with a small group of members.
"I felt the spirit so strongly. I knew I wanted to be baptized," she said.
Such spiritual sensitivity attracted Brother Ochoa to his future wife.
"She was so pure and good," he said. "I knew that she would return to our Heavenly Father — with me, or with someone else."
The two began dating and were eventually married in the Mexico City Mexico Temple. They are the parents of five children.
Brother Ochoa has experienced firsthand the value of mentors. A short time after becoming active in the Church, he was befriended by a beloved priesthood leader who helped him grow in the gospel, Now as a general youth leader himself, he appreciates the importance of strong leaders in the lives of young men.
"Our youth need great examples and the love of their priesthood leaders."
A strong bishop, Aaronic Priesthood adviser or Scoutmaster, he added, can be especially essential in the lives of young men who are less active in their quorums or troops.
"Our Heavenly Father is there. His arms are open if we are obedient ... we can be blessed," he said.
The Ochoas would become witnesses of the power that resides in faithful young people when Brother Ochoa presided over the Honduras San Pedro Sula Mission. Sister Ochoa called it a joy to see young men and women from various backgrounds come together with the common purpose of testifying of the gospel. President Ochoa soon learned that many of the best missionaries were those who had been taught in their youth to trust the Lord.
"If a missionary trusts his Heavenly Father, and he is trustworthy himself, he can endure whenever he has a trial," he said.
In his new calling, Brother Ochoa is able to speak with large groups of Aaronic Priesthood holders from all corners of the globe. His instruction to young men is direct and simple: the priesthood is the most powerful tool they will ever possess.
"Put it to the test," he said. "Use the priesthood to bless your friends and all the people around you."
Dutiful men who are called to serve with the young men will play a pivotal role in developing the next generation of worthy missionaries, husbands, fathers, leaders and temple worshippers. "It's important that [advisers] do not simply see the youth as part of a program, but to see them as unique individuals," he added. "Love them. That's what they need the most."
As he reflects on his own diverse life, Brother Ochoa is grateful he is part of a Church that is defined by unity, brotherhood and opportunity.
"I truly believe I owe all that I have — including my own family — to the gospel of Jesus Christ."