The unknown phone number

Prior to attending Iowa Western Community College, offensive lineman Philip Ford had offers from Kansas and Minnesota. Not too long ago, he planned to graduate from Iowa Western and then play Division I football. After receiving a surprise phone call, that has now changed.

Members of the LDS faith love to hear stories of inspiration and faith. Big 6-foot-6-inch, 330-pound offensive tackle Phil Ford from Roeland Park, Kansas has captured the hearts of many faithful Latter-day Saints with an inspirational story about his conversion.

That story can be read here.

"Since that day I've been thinking about serving a mission," Ford said, referring to his baptism. "I was talking to the missionaries and really wanted to serve a mission."

One particular event following his baptism motivated Ford to serve.

"I really wanted to go on a mission and was watching some videos on," said Ford. "It just really touched me when I was reading about how we need to share the gospel to everyone so they could store up their treasures in heaven. It just really got to me knowing that everyone has to hear to gospel and that there are people out there where it could help change their lives. I just felt that I needed to give others what I've been given.

"The part the truly got to me was a video about the three kingdoms and what's needed to be done in order to reach the highest. I want everyone to be able to have the same opportunity I have and hear what I have and receive the overwhelming blessings that I've been given. I want my friends to hear it, my family to hear and just be able to tell the whole world about it."

The fire to serve burned brighter in Ford.

"I was talking to some of my teammates about serving a mission," said Ford. "They went and started looking into it and found that I have to pay for it on my own. I started thinking about that and was wondering if I need to talk to my mom about it, but she's not a member of the Church and I don't think she could do that for me. I just didn't know what to do and wanted God to show me.

"I started praying about it and was thinking that maybe I need to get a job so I can save up money for a mission. I just prayed about it and asked God to help me. Then I was sitting there on my couch one night and thinking about it more."

Ford then received a message on his phone.

"My coach texted me and said some guy wanted to talk to me," Ford recalled. "I wasn't sure what it was about and was wondering if it was something bad. Then I looked at the number and saw that it was an area code from Utah. I didn't recognize the number but I knew that it was a number from Utah."

After trying to figure out who it was that wanted to speak to him, Ford mustered up the courage to call the unknown number.

"I called the number and all I could hear were happy little kids yelling in the background," said Ford with a laugh. "I heard a man's voice and he said that his name was Michael Hopkins and that he lived out here in Utah with his family. He told me that he had been reading the stories on me and about how I joined the Church."

During the conversation, Hopkins relinquished the phone to his kids.

"[Hopkins] said, ‘Before we talk more, my son wants to meet you.' I was talking to all the little kids and everything and they said, ‘We can't wait to meet you!'"

Regaining control of the phone, Hopkins then told Ford something that brought the 6-foot-6-inch, 330-pound gridiron warrior to tears.

"Then when I was talking to Michael he said that his kids just loved me and that they wanted to meet me and everything," Ford said with excitement. "Then he told me that he had been reading about me and that he wanted to help pay my way to serve a mission. He just said that he was proud of me and wanted to try and contact me so he could help me serve a mission."

Pondering on what had just occurred, Ford was overwhelmed with emotion.

"I was trying to figure [how Hopkins got my number], and after thinking about it for a while, I think he must have called my coaches here at Iowa Western to get my number," Ford said. "I was just so thankful and it was just amazing to me how God has blessed my life and how someone would care for me to help me. It was just amazing to me that someone like Michael would take time out of his busy schedule to contact my coach here just to get in touch with me. He contacted my coach and told me to get in contact with him.

"He said he wanted to help me and then told me that he wanted to make it happen, that he wanted to pay for my mission. My heart just filled with joy and I just started crying. This was a miracle to me that someone I have never met before would call me and tell me that he was going to pay my way to serve a mission after worrying so much about how I was going to do so. I just couldn't help it and started crying. It really is a miracle and a blessing from God. I can't believe it and it's so amazing to me."

Ford has plans to continue improving his grades at Iowa Western Community College and graduate with an AA degree prior to serving his mission. His hope is that BYU will see his progress in the classroom, on the field and in preparation to serve his a mission.

"I'm going to talk to the coaches about it and see how this will all work out," Ford said. "Before I was thinking that I would try and serve a mission after playing college football, but now it's definitely before I play college football. I'm going to be able to serve my mission now, so I want to go serve my mission, then try and come back and hopefully play for BYU. That's the plan, so I'm going to call the coaches and talk to them about all this."

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