Category: Real Stories Real People

Witness Well

Growing up in a polygamist community to faith in Christ

“Up until last October I was a Mormon.”

These are the words of Becky who shared with me her story of coming out of a polygamist group in southern Utah. It was both a remarkable and a difficult journey.

“I grew up in the Allred Group, a fundamentalist Mormon group in Utah, believing in the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith. At the age of 35, my husband and I left that group and joined mainstream Mormonism. Of course, it was an easy decision to make because neither me or my husband wanted to live in Polygamy but we were still brainwashed in the Mormon religion. We were very happy doing works to gain salvation because the works we were doing were way better than being in polygamy. Our children grew up pretty much as mainstream Mormons and our two eldest sons went on missions and cemented their testimonies on the false teachings of Mormonism.

I honestly never liked Joseph Smith because of the Polygamy thing but I felt that I needed to finally gain a testimony of him so I purchased a book available at a LDS bookstore. I couldn’t believe what I read about the details of his life and how Mormonism started. Reading that book destroyed my testimony and destroyed the faith I had in Mormonism. I doubted at one point that God even existed! I got to the point where I knew I had to trust something. Upon seeing God’s creation in this world and in heavens, even the creative design of our bodies, I knew that if I could trust anything it would be my God over Joseph Smith. My husband and I have always wanted Gods truth not our own desires and I know that God drew us to the truth. Through an amazing set of circumstances and timing, we both started studying the Bible and eventually came to faith. It has been amazing to read the Bible as a Christian. It keeps me going.

My adult children and spouses are still Mormon and I along with their dad have broken their hearts because we have found the truth about Mormonism. They are angry and upset with us, plus sad for their two younger siblings that we have taken from the Mormon Church. There is nothing I can say to convince them that the Law was fulfilled in Jesus Christ and we look to him for our Eternal Salvation. One of the hardest things I’ve done is to give my kids up to God. I have always loved my kids more than anything. At one point, I even considered staying in Mormonism just for them. But as I was listening to the Bible and heard the scripture verses that talk about giving up everyone for Christ, I knew I could not throw away the gift I was given. My Eeernal salvation.

I also recently witnessed to my LDS sister and crushed her world. She went home and told her husband and now they are looking into the things I have told them about Mormonism and the true Christ. Obviously we are also broken-hearted that our children and family members will not even look at facts. We must accept the true Jesus Christ and he is only found in the Bible. We believe that we are finally saved because we believe what the Bible tells us. We are free for the first time in our lives! It feels amazing, but we also carry a great burden since we have so much family in Mormonism.”

It is only the power of God’s Word that can transform hearts. Becki’s story is a great reminder and a source of encouragement. To download a free copy of a Bible study on how to witnessing to Mormons please click the following link Preparing for the Adventure

The Power of Taking God at His Word

I love stories. I especially enjoy hearing stories of grace — when God plucks those who have spent a lifetime trying to be good and doing good works until they realize it can never be enough. Allow me to share with you a story about Jim. He contacted our ministry to encourage us that we are using an awesome approach to share God’s love through His Word to his people. He’s a former Mormon who lives among Mormons. But that’s not all. He lives in a community dominated by the religion and the culture of Mormonism. For a variety of reasons, it’s a great challenge to publicly declare his faith. Here is a condensed version of the emails that he has sent to me:

“I grew up Baptist but never had the gospel explained to me properly. I went to church every week and to a Christian summer camp every year. I loved the Lord but did not really understand the gospel nor my sinful nature. Each year at camp kids would run around saying “I am saved” and I had no idea what they were talking about. Years later, when the Mormon missionaries came knocking on my door, I took the lessons and was deceived due to my lack of Biblical study and understanding.

It was completely my fault.

My family moved from Salt Lake City to a smaller town in Utah while I was in the 5th grade. Until we moved, my friends really didn’t care what religion I belonged to. Now, in a small community dominated by Mormons, nobody would play with me for a long while. The only ones that did were not the strong LDS types.

While in high school I had lots of close friends who were strong Mormons. I eventually took the discussions offered by the missionaries and joined the church. I got married to a Mormon girl and we have three kids. My wife and I were sealed for time and eternity in the American Fork, Utah temple.

Shortly after I was married, a man I was working for witnessed to me about the fallacies of the church. He told me some crazy stuff about Joseph Smith and I promptly quit the job. I still had no idea of what it really meant to be saved. All I knew was that sinners that were really bad went to hell but everyone else would go to heaven.

It was not until several years later, I came across a ministry that shared about the true teachings of the Bible. It was in God’s Word where I saw my depravity and knew I deserved to be ground to dust on judgment day and cast into the lake of fire forever. I then understood the awesomeness of our God to stoop down from his throne and die for me. He loved the world so much that he sent His Son to die in my place. I still can’t wrap my head around the depths of why He would do this for me, but I am so grateful for His mercy, and love.

About two months later I woke up praising God as to how great He was and how kind He was to let me live on such a beautiful world. I was halfway to work when I realized what had happened. It was like a light bulb went off. I then had a strong craving for His Word and suddenly it came alive to me. I never liked Christian music before but now I couldn’t get enough.

I was driving my family crazy for a while but have learned to tone it down and turn it from preaching to teaching. Wow a big change now; with the Lords help I have been able to make huge inroads to my family. It’s all in baby steps. I talked with my wife about starting a Bible study about forgiveness and she said yes. That is HUGE!

I have praised God so many times and beg him for patience and discernment to know when to stop or slow down to not shut them off to His word. I know I can’t move to fast or I will lose them. The Lord has let me learn that as I try to take over from His teaching, I mess it all up, so I need to pay attention and keep it simple. I have read so much and listened to so many things it starts to swim in my head. Now I am trying to get back to the Bible and only the Bible and use His word. It’s the only way. I am rock solid in my faith in Christ, the Bible being the inerrant Word and completely trustworthy. And I know where I am going when I leave this earth, only on the shed blood of Christ my King and LORD God by His grace and mercy for me.

I still belong to the Mormon Church and attend its services even though I no longer believe in its teachings and have become a Christian. The people at the Mormon Church do not know that I don’t believe in it anymore. Some are aware that I know the Scriptures (Bible) decent but I don’t believe they know my true feelings. I do try to fit in stories of how Jesus helps me realize that I am completely bankrupt without him and I must completely rely on Him for everything. If I share my true feelings I run the risk of losing my family — and I can’t risk that.  So, in the meantime, I share God’s Word with my wife and children and pray that as a family, we will all come to the true faith of the real Jesus Christ.”

“I make much of my ministry in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them.”   (Romans 11:13b-14)

Our response to forgiveness typically depends on how much was forgiven

Joe Delaney was a star running back for the Kansas City Chiefs.  On a summer outing in his native Louisiana, Joe suddenly turned his head when he heard shouts from a nearby construction site.  Three young boys had been playing in the area and decided to jump into a pool of water formed by a recent downpour.  Unknown to them, the pool turned out to be twenty feet deep and they were crying out for help.  Hustling over, Joe reacted instinctively by jumping into the pool to save them.  To stand on the bank would be unthinkable.  The problem?  He didn’t know how to swim very well.  Somehow, his efforts allowed one of the boys to be rescued.  But not Joe.  In the attempt to save the lives of three children, he lost his own.

I can imagine the grief that befell this small community.  They had lost a hero.  And his mother?  Though proud of his son’s heroic act, I’m sure she was devastated by his sudden death.

Let’s say that several months later, the father of the young boy who was saved by Joe’s heroic act — was deeply troubled by the conflicting emotions of guilt and gratitude.  Not knowing what to do, he may have sought out Joe’s mother and asked if there is anything he could do to help ease his conscience.  A great cost was given to save his son’s life.  Could he ever repay the debt?  What could this man do that could ever come close to adequately satisfy her lost?

Sensing his anguish, Joe’s mother could have told him, “Honestly, sir, you can never pay me back for my loss — and that is something I have to live with.  And that is something you will have to live with too.  Instead of being burdened by guilt that you owe me a debt, perhaps you can think of this as an opportunity to live with thanksgiving from a sacrifice that was given.  Your son’s life was worth saving — not because of what he did, but who he is — a precious young soul more valuable than any treasure on earth.  Out of appreciation for what my son, Joe, did for him, tell him to live out his life full of the grace and mercy that my son displayed.  In doing so, you are thanking me… and my son.”

I can picture this exchange in an attempt to describe God’s forgiveness and mercy.  Our response to forgiveness typically depends on how much was forgiven.  In the father’s case, he knew full well the sacrifice that was given in exchange for his son.  He knew the consequences if the rescue had not taken place.  This was intensely personal for him.

And so is the case with our salvation.  It’s intensely personal.  Christ rescued us from eternal torment and it cost his life.  Our response is to not be burdened by guilt, nor pay him back as a debt we owe — but to live out our lives with thanksgiving and gratitude for what has already been done on our behalf.  The sacrifice has already been made and not other sacrifice is needed.  Faith miraculously receives the full benefit of Christ’s completed work on the cross.  Faith is what God desires and our life of thanksgiving is the appropriate response that God seeks.

This week marks the 29th anniversary of Joe Delaney’s heroism and his untimely death.  His life still resonates today — and he will not be forgotten.

Sports is not her savior

My wife and I drove to visit our daughter who’s a junior in college.  She is a remarkable young lady – as most fathers would attest of their own daughters.  But it’s hard to imagine that there is a father in this world who is more proud of his daughter right now.

We are a family that thoroughly enjoys sports.  From participating in family fantasy football leagues to attending various athletic events, our family enjoys the opportunities that sporting events offer to share memories and have a great time.  I would not call it a passion, but a simple pleasure.  There was a time in my life when sports were more than a passion, it was my savior.

Growing up in a difficult home life, I was physically blessed with a body that allowed me to perform well in sports.  In high school, I was able to be a star athlete.  I don’t mean to come across as bragging, but it’s important to know because I truly believe that being a star athlete saved my life.  Sports gave my life meaning, attention and approval that I desperately sought.  I easily could have been led down a life of making extremely poor decisions which included drugs, alcohol or even ending life itself.  Sports was that critical bridge that led me to making good life decisions and ultimately to Christ.

Sometimes, sports can serve as that critical bridge for many.  Yet, if a person allows the passion to be so consuming that you miss the lessons and opportunities it can provide, it can become a substitute savior from life itself.  An addicting drug, if you will, to forget and avoid the struggles and worries of life or to re-live old glories.

My daughter is an excellent athlete and earned a scholarship to play soccer in college.  Like an artist, she paints a portrait of herself on the playing field for all to observe and to appreciate.  But, playing a sport doesn’t define who she is.  For this, I’m truly thankful.  Don’t get me wrong, she loves to play soccer.  However, she plays with the attention and the appreciation for what it is – an expression of her body and the gifts she possesses; the opportunities for playing with a team full of talented and committed ladies; and those rare experiences of learning those unique lessons that only sports provides that help build character, discipline and perseverance.

Right now, she is in the middle of one of those extremely tough lessons right now.

It’s a type of lesson that parents cringe, wishing they could possible spare a child from hurt and disappointment, hoping that there is some way they can help make it better.  But on the other hand, I wouldn’t want it any other way.  She is going to grow from this experience from a lesson that parent couldn’t provide.  She is going to come out of this an even better person.  The Lord is allowing sports to give her this unique opportunity to mold her character, strengthen her will, and perhaps re-define who she is and what she desires to become.  Yes, this is tough.  But, she’s an amazing person who’s going to grow to an even more amazing young lady.  For that, I am sure, because sports are not her savior.

I’m a father who couldn’t be more proud or thankful to have a daughter like her.