Although shy and quiet growing up, Elder Jorge T. Becerra received opportunities to lead from his mission president, resulting in his returning home with a desire to be engaged in the work of the Lord for the rest of his life.
Leadership opportunities came sooner than expected — at age 27, he was called into his first bishopric; at age 32, as a bishop. He felt inadequate as people approached him with their problems. “I have no idea what I’m doing,” he told his father.
His father’s reply taught him a powerful lesson, reminded Elder Becerra of his mission president’s faith in him and helped prepare him for future leadership callings, including stake president at age 37.
“He said, ‘Son, how old is the Holy Ghost?’” Elder Becerra said. “That was a great teaching moment for me, because I knew that I could do anything the Lord asked me.”
The lesson has stayed with Elder Becerra through many years of service in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, now including his call as one of nine new General Authority Seventies sustained in April 2020 general conference.
Jorge Eduardo Torres Becerra was born to Juan C. Becerra and Celia T. Becerra on Dec. 18, 1962, Salt Lake City, where he was raised.
Elder Becerra’s lifelong membership in the Church was influenced by the remarkable conversion of his grandfather, Brigido Becerra, in Puebla, Mexico. His grandfather had a dream about the Prophet Joseph Smith a few months before meeting sister missionaries. He changed his life to join the Church. Elder Becerra’s father also joined the Church and felt inspired to move his family to Utah.
“It was a huge turning point in our lives,” he said. “It was a legacy of deep devotion and faith that really changed my father.”
Elder Becerra’s first spiritual experience came after his father baptized him in the Salt Lake Tabernacle’s since-removed basement font. “When I received the Holy Ghost, he recalled, “it was the first time I felt something.”
Other testimony-building experiences followed as he grew up in the Lucero Spanish ward and served as a missionary in the California Arcadia Mission.
The mission field is where Elder Becerra met fellow missionary Sister Debbie I. Schneberger, first at a church meeting in North Hollywood.
“I didn’t know him at all, but I remember looking across the chapel at him,” she later recalled. “I thought, ‘Now there is a good missionary.’”
As they became friends, Elder Becerra considered Sister Becerra to be one of the great sisters in the mission, and because she was a little older than him, he considered setting her up with his older brother. But when he saw her at a mission reunion shortly after returning home, he thought, “Forget my brother, I’m going to ask her out.”
She agreed to go out with him even though she thought he was “awkward.”
Said he: “I had a strong feeling early on that I needed to marry this girl and that I would be successful if I had her by my side.”
Married Aug. 10, 1984, in the Salt Lake Temple, the Becerras are the parents of five children and currently live in Sandy, Utah.
Three decades later while presiding over the California Arcadia Mission, the topic of how the Becerras met became a favorite story among missionaries. Sister Becerra always clarifies one point: “Any romance came after the mission,” she said.
A spiritual feeling led Elder Becerra to a career in financial services.
“When I found out what the career was like, and what it would do, I knew in my heart that this would enable me to be available to the Lord later on in my life,” he said. “It was this strong impression that if I would conduct myself honorably and do my best, the Lord would bless me.”
Over the years, Elder Becerra was not one to always promise clients the best returns, but he did his best to handle their savings with honesty and integrity. On many occasions he was referred to widows and considered it a sacred stewardship to protect their assets.
“I wanted to be the same man on Monday that I was on Sunday,” he said. “I wanted to take care of people and do the right things for the right reasons.”
Not only has Elder Becerra’s career enabled him to serve others, but it has permitted him the flexibility to serve in various Church callings.
One special calling came from 2011-2014, when Elder and Sister Becerra were called back to preside over the California Arcadia Mission, exactly 30 years later.
Following a preliminary interview at Church headquarters to assess their availability, Elder Becerra felt nervous and unsure about leaving everything behind to become a mission president. In the past he had often received a strong spiritual assurance and direction, but this time it didn’t come as quickly.
When confirmation did come, it was in the form of a scripture verse, Ether 12:6: “Dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.” It was not the clear answer Elder Becerra wanted, but after receiving that message in the temple, he surrendered his will to the Lord.
When the official mission call was extended, Elder Becerra said an “electrifying” feeling shot through his body and he knew what he needed to do.
“Once we landed in California and my feet hit the soil, I had a rush of energy and inspiration. I knew I was called and all the fear left me,” Elder Becerra said. “The answer to my prayers was pretty prophetic.”
The Becerras took two of their high school-aged children with them to California, and the experience served to strengthen them, which was a highlight for Sister Becerra.
One powerful experience Elder Becerra had as a young missionary came back to his memory as a mission president. He recalled a conversation he had with his own mission president as they sat in a car. After parking, his mission president turned off the vehicle and suddenly became quiet and pensive. As he looked out the window, Elder Becerra thought he might reprimand him or teach him something.
“Elder Becerra, you know what this mission needs?” the president said, breaking the silence and looking at him. “It needs you in about 20 years.”
The scene came back to Elder Becerra’s mind when they opened their mission call.
“He was 10 years too early, but it gave me a great feeling to know he thought I should return,” Elder Becerra said.
Elder Becerra’s mission president remained in California and raised his family there. One of the tender mercies of the Becerras’ return involved reconnecting with their mission president’s family and helping the oldest son back into full activity, he said.
Elder Becerra has pondered and prayed about his call as a General Authority Seventy and its timing. Despite the trials ahead, he’s optimistic about the future.
“We are coming into a time in the history of the Church that none of us imagined we would see. The Lord has our complete attention,” he said.
“To me it’s a tremendous blessing to be engaged in the work, and I’m honored the Lord would choose me to do His work at this difficult time. I have a lot of faith we’re going to move forward.”