Makara Lim, a yoga instructor and a junior studying mechanical engineering said he had many spiritual experiences with meditation and yoga that led him to become a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in October 2011.
“My parents are from Cambodia,” Lim said. “I was born in a refugee camp in Thailand; we were trying to escape a war-torn country.”
Lim said the dictator of Cambodia at the time was killing doctors, teachers, lawyers and musicians.
Lim said he wanted the masses to be easier to control, so he tried to eliminate intellectuals.
“My mom and aunts watched their brothers get buried alive,” Lim said. “Half of my dad’s side of the family were killed off. My family in general has seen a lot of darkness.”
While Lim and his family were in the refugee camp, they were sponsored by members of the Church to come to the U.S.
Lim said that his parents got baptized to be polite, but his aunt and her family are still active in the gospel.
“When I was 8 years old, I got a picture Book of Mormon, and the first story I read was how the Lamanites were bad, so God turned their skin dark,” Lim said. “Since I had dark skin, I wondered if that made me a bad person. The missionary at the time couldn’t give me a sufficient enough answer, so I banished Christianity for a while. I knew there was a higher power; I just didn’t know what I believed.”
When he was a senior in high school, Lim said he started using opiates and later became addicted. During that time, he became interested in philosophy, meditation and the martial arts, which led him to yoga.
“When I was 16, I started doing yoga for fun,” Lim said. “In my first yoga class, I had a really joyful feeling, and after the class, I was really content and happy.”
Lim said he did yoga off and on during high school and community college, but was not consistent in his practice because of his addiction to opiates.
When he got into Washington State University, Lim said he stopped using opiates, and used yoga to help in his recovery.
He said he became depressed and relapsed when he failed out of the university.
“I hit rock bottom pretty much,” Lim said. “My buddy I was (using) with told me about this book, Autobiography of a Yogi. In the book, they talked about God and how He speaks to you. It was similar to what the gospel teaches.”
During the time he was reading the book, Lim said he posted on Facebook that he was reading it, and an ad immediately appeared on his feed for a camp called “Living With Spirit.”
“I clicked on it because in the book it talks about coincidences, and when coincidences stop being coincidences, that’s how God is playing his role in you,” Lim said.
Lim said that before he attended the camp, he prayed to a higher power and asked for a sign to help him recover because if he did not quit opiates, he knew he was going to die or destroy his family.
“I went to the camp for two weeks, and the first thing I noticed was that I had no withdrawals while I was down there,” Lim said. “All the people I met were so loving, kind and genuine.”
On the third day of camp, Lim said they met with the “healing minister,” who heals through light energy. He said when she asked if anyone had a problem, he raised his hand and said he was a drug addict who was trying to quit.
“She had me sit in the middle of a circle on a chair and had everyone rub their hands together and start chanting “OM” around me,” Lim said. “I just felt this energy flowing up my body. I could feel the energy.”
Lim said he was still skeptical of the experience. When he got back to his tent, he said that as he closed his eyes, he had a spiritual vision, and felt like he was transported into the spirit world.
“Everything was all black, but I saw a pulsating sphere of energy kind of like the sun,” Lim said. “As I hit the horizon and as I go in, I see a bunch of silhouettes of trees, like when people draw with light, that’s what it looked like. Everything was black, but the trees looked like evergreen trees to me. There were five figures walking in the woods, and right as I stopped they stopped and turned their heads. I could sense they wanted to say something to me but I don’t think I was spiritually inclined enough to receive their message.”
When he opened his eyes, Lim said the first thing that came to his mind was Joseph Smith.
“I thought if I denied Joseph Smith his spiritual vision, when I had just had one, then that makes me a hypocrite,” Lim said.
Lim said that when he returned from the camp, his mom said there was a glow coming out of his eyes.
“When I got back, all my legal stuff caught up with me,” Lim said. “I had to do four months of work release. It’s pretty much jail, but they let you out for work and school.”
Lim said he met a member of the Church at work release, and they talked about spirituality. Lim’s friend soon told him that Lim’s beliefs were similar to what was taught in the gospel.
“I started talking to the missionaries while I was in work release, and I got baptized once I got out in October,” Lim said. “The friend who was in work release with me baptized me.”
Lim said he talked to his friend a lot about BYU and BYU-Idaho.
“He said that I should go there because I was very enlightened and that I had a lot of knowledge to help people,” Lim said. “That’s what brought me here.”
Lim said he feels that there is a reason he is at BYU-I.
“My choice to come here was all part of God’s plan to inspire people to love and live more to reach their potential.”