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February 5, 2011

Witnessing Christ needs a leap of faith

by Dave Malnes

Witnessing Christ means standing on the edge with feelings of fear and inadequacy, and by faith, jump into the assurances that God’s Word alone creates faith; that God desires all men and women to be saved; and God loves everyone just as much as he loves us. When those golden opportunities arrive to witness Christ, usually unexpectedly, we take a deep breath, say a short prayer, and dive into the message of what Christ has already accomplished for us on the cross.

This is why I like to think of witnessing as an adventure. You never quite know what to expect. The following story is a great example.

This past month, I received an e-mail from a gentleman whose church is going through a Bible study I wrote on witnessing to Mormons entitled, “Preparing for the Adventure.” The class quickly became “standing room only.” The adventure began when a church member showed the student worksheets to her next door neighbor who happened to be a Mormon. The following Sunday, the Mormon lady decided to accompany her neighbor to the worship service and the Bible study.

Shortly into the Bible study and without warning, the lady stood up to identify herself as a member of the LDS church and was there solely for the purpose of making sure the study was “accurate” in its presentation of Mormon teachings. She repeatedly attempted to defend her church throughout the class and pointed to the Bible to back up the teachings. Because the members of the class didn’t anticipate the woman’s presence and in addition were unfamiliar with the language and theology of the LDS Church, the Mormon woman became the focal point of the class and not the material. Since the woman was planning on coming back the following week, they asked me what the church ought to do.

There is a persecution-complex among many Mormons. They will react vigorously to any statement or materials perceived as anti-Mormon. They are routinely cautioned that such materials are from the devil. In a public setting like a Bible class, Mormons will staunchly defend their church as one would defend a family member against false accusations.

It has been my experience that most Mormons are respectful at seminars or presentations I conduct. However, if caught with an unexpected LDS visitor who attempts to dominate a class or a seminar, we can be respectful, yet firm in providing guidelines for discussion while offering the invitation to speak privately.

And that’s what happened with the Mormon visitor.

She must have been surprised to find out that the Bible study offers a respectful and unique perspective on the culture and the language of the LDS church, especially the amount of stress placed on its members to be worthy. Noting the respectful tone and the attention to accuracy presented in the study, the LDS lady confided in a private conversation that there are many people like her who would like to leave the Mormon Church because of the stress. What could have been a disaster turned out to be a golden opportunity.

On the outside, Mormons do appear impenetrable. When the LDS lady at the Bible class trumpeted her church’s teachings, she came across as a valiant and faithful Mormon. But inside, she was hurting.

The adventure of witnessing Christ most often includes sowing a seed of God’s saving message for all people, including Mormons. We shouldn’t be fooled by outer appearances. So, take that leap of faith when God presents you with golden opportunities to witness and trust that God’s Word can penetrate any heart. It was no accident that the LDS lady came to a Christian church and it will not be an accident when the Lord places a Mormon in your midst.

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