Sunday, February 28, 2010

How the Mormon Missionaries Saved Me

I think my title catches the attention of the people who actually know me. Let me tell you why; I am a follower of the word of God. The Bible. The true gospel of Jesus Christ. I believe in nothing else, but the scripture that is God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16). So how did the Mormon Missionaries save me? I'll show you.

It all started not too long ago in December, 2009. My good friend Melissa and I went to the Mormon Temple in Mesa Arizona to check out the beautiful display of Christmas lights and decorations. It was quite a site. As we walked around, linked arms, and sipping on hot chocolate, we noticed a missionary handing out what looked like pamphlets. We decided to investigate. To be honest, we only felt it was necessary to investigate so that we had a reason to talk to him. What can I say? He was a good looking man in a suit. As we walked up to him, he glanced over, gave us a heart-warming smile and said, "Good evening ladies. How do you like the Christmas display here at the Temple?" We had a small chat about the decorations, but could tell he wanted to get straight to the point. He asked us if we new about the "Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ". Being a "Christian" myself, I was always under the impression that Mormons were just another denomination of Christianity. (I want to clarify the reason I put Christian in quotes was because I was not a devoted follower, I was just raised Christian.) So, since they were "Christians", like myself, I decided I wanted to hear a little bit about what they believed in, and why they were so obviously different from my version of Christians. ( Questions such as: If they were Christians, then why are they called Mormons?, Why are there so many Mormon Missionaries as apposed to any other Christian Missionary? etc.) He asked if I would like to meet with some missionaries in my area, and I responded immediately with a yes. I was really curious to see what was going on in this "denomination of Christianity" that I didn't know about.

A week later, I heard a knock at the door. I opened it to see the smiling faces of two young gentlemen in suits and ties. Oh, joy. Here they are. I was so completely unprepared for their visit and had no idea what was to come of it. They politely introduced themselves, and asked how I was doing. Such sincere, nice boys. Luckily they were there to make an appointment for a later day. Thank God. Literally. I did not want to deal with people coming into my cluttered apartment. They handed me the Book of Mormon, and told me to read through it and pray about it. They could not stress enough how important it was to pray about everything that I read. So I agreed, we set a date for the next week, and they were on their way.

Read the Book of Mormon? Not only did I hate reading, but I hated reading in an old English language that was really hard for me to understand. I didn't even like reading my bible, let alone a restoration of it, but I decided to keep my promise. I started to read the first couple of pages that included these things: The Introduction, The Testimony of the Three Witnesses, The Testimony of the Eight Witnesses, The Testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith, and A Brief Explanation of the Book of Mormon. I will admit, I did not pray about it, because I never really found prayer necessary to begin with, so I didn't think I should start now. To my surprise, it was rather interesting. So, I decided to research, and find some things out about the LDS church, and their basic beliefs. I had many questions, so I thought I would ask someone I knew I could trust. Glenn.

Glenn is my best friend Courtney's boyfriend. He has been studying to be a Pastor for the last 10 years, and is very knowledgeable in Biblical Theology, or any sort of Christian Studies. Not only that, but he has been studying about the Mormon religion for the about the same amount of time, so I knew he would know the scoop on the subject. Since I did not know Glenn very well at the time, I decided to call Courtney and have her ask Glenn for a little more information on the Mormon religion and its culture. With no hesitation, he emailed me with even more than I had asked for. He told me it was going to be a lot of stuff to take in at once, but over some time, I would get through it all. It was quite overwhelming, but I decided to get cracking on it. I only had a week to absorb some of this stuff. I had an interesting road ahead of me.

The first thing I did, was listen to a speech given by Dr. Walter Martin, an American Evangelical

minister, author, and Christian apologist who founded the Christian Research Institute in 1960. This speech was called "The Maze of Mormonism". In just the first five minutes of listening to this man, I had come to the conclusion that Mormon religion was out of its mind (To clarify, this is the thought process that was going on at the time of listening to his speech). Let me explain why I was in such awe about this religion. Mormons claim to believe in the Bible, but they are convinced that there have been some mistranslations. They say this, yet they still reference back to Bible verses from time to time to prove their points. To me, this didn't make too much sense, but that wasn't what got me thinking this way. Dr. Walter Martin first started out with some prayer; a prayer for the Mormons salvation. I didn't understand why yet, because remember, to me they were just another denomination of Christianity. Then he continued with something that really got me thinking. He quoted a very intense Bible verse. I am using the King James Version only because this is the Bible that Mormons continue to use due to the fact that it was the version that was around when Joseph Smith had his "revelation" (Not to mention, they usually carry around a KJV/JST version. Meaning "Joseph Smith Translation").

Galatians 1:6-9 (KJV) "I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:
Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.
But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed."

To better understand this verse. Let me give you a little summary of Joseph Smith's first vision in 1820.

Joseph Smith was confused as to which sect he should join, since there were so many different ones. After reading James 1:5, he was determined to find out which one was true. He went to the woods, and knelt down to pray to God with a wholesome heart, and ask him this question. As he prayed, an overpowering feeling came over him. When he opened his eyes, he explained he had seen two beings above him in the light, who were supposedly the Father and the Son (God and Jesus). The Son had told Joseph that he was not to join any of the religious sects, for they were all corrupt in their teachings.

Just so that I clarify, I used the word "supposedly" because there about 9 or 10 different versions of this vision, ( but this is the vision that they use in the LDS church today. I am trying to be careful with my words, because I don't wish to offend anyone in their beliefs, I am just sharing what I have learned.

I was astonished, because I have grown up believing the Bible to be true. There is no way you could have mistranslated a verse like that. There are only so many ways that you can scramble up words and meanings for you to get a point across. Even the JST version of this Bible verse is getting the same point across. I didn't understand how they could be so blind, so instead of having Christ-like love for them, I formed a hate upon them. I was, in lame mans terms, absolutely pissed off. I couldn't get how people could be so idiotic, it literally made my stomach turn in disgust. From this moment (in my early research) on, my goal for this mission was to prove those Mormon Missionaries wrong. Anything I could do to plant seeds of doubt in their mind, I was going to do it. Whatever it took.

First couple of things I did: Bought a new Bible (ESV), history of the Mormon Church books, Cult books, and any other Mormon history books I could get my hands on, and started reading. I found so many things that caught my attention, that I could not even wrap my mind around the fact that people actually believed this stuff. I have never, in my entire life, done so much research. There was no way I was going to cram all this stuff in before the Missionaries came for their visit. I then realized that this was going to be a slow process.

The First Visit:

I let them talk. I let them explain their beliefs, and tell me why they "knew it to be true". I listened to their testimony, and to my surprise, I agreed with about 90% of what they had to say. They claimed to be followers of Jesus, and believed he died for our sins. They claimed to believe that Jesus was the only way to God, and that we must accept Him as our Saviour to enter Heaven. They claimed to believe in baptism. This list can go on and on, but my point is, is that they used my beliefs to persuade me into thinking that this religion is the only true way to Jesus Christ. As much as I dislike saying this, they got me thinking that they might not be wrong. Everything they said to me, were the teachings that I grew up with. How could they be wrong? At the end, they asked me if I had done my reading in the Book of Mormon. I told them what I had read, and apologized for not reading more into it. They were happy with the fact that I had even read any of it at all. They explained to me the importance of prayer. They told me I must pray, and ask if Joseph Smith was a true prophet, and in doing so, God would reveal the truth to me. They told me to continue reading, and scheduled an appointment for next week.

Wow. They were so nice. They cared so much for my salvation, and I have never had anyone care about something like that. Ever. I decided to look into more of the things that Glenn sent me. In all of this, I never realized the importance of my Bible. I was so focused on researching the history, that the Bible seemed irrelevant. Even figuring this out, I still didn't use it like I should have, and continued with my research. I found more and more truths about the history of the Mormon Church, and how disturbing this cult was. I noticed how much it was poisoning the minds of these people, and completely brainwashing them into believing this nonsense. There was mass amount of information that LDS officials were hiding from theses innocent people.

Every visit after that was a constant battle of who was right and who was wrong. I asked questions that made them uncomfortable, and ones that they were not able to answer. I noticed myself getting defensive of my religion, and using a tone of voice that would have been considered arrogant. I was fighting for a religion that I rarely even practiced. Looking back on it, I handled these debates poorly, and could of made more of an impact if I had used the tool that had been so obviously dangled in front of my face the whole time: my Bible. I decided it was time to pick it up, and do some reading so that I could prove my point. In doing so, I learned so much more truth in the Bible than anything I could have read out of some book. I started to feel a love that was so overwhelming, and something that I can honestly say I had never felt before. This is what the Holy Spirit felt like. I started reading the Book of Mormon out loud so that I could see what I could learn from it, and why it was so different from the Bible. What I felt when I read it out loud was unexplainable. It was uncomfortable, heart wrenching, and stomach churning. I felt darkness, and sadness. It was something that I felt was so evil, that I had to stop reading it out loud to regain my composure. Some may think that I am crazy for feeling this way, and that's OK. What I do want to point out, is that I read it out loud before I started reading the Bible. I read it out loud when I already started all of that research, and had already come to the conclusion that Mormonism was wrong. It wasn't until I started developing a love for the Bible, and Jesus' teachings, that I started to feel this overwhelming gloom.

So, I continued my research on a website that I trusted. I started reading about all kinds of contradictions between the Bible, and the Book of Mormon. Truths that were so vitally important for salvation. My heart dropped, and I started feeling sympathy for people of the Mormon Church.

I was asked to attend a church service with the Missionaries. It's always been hard for me to say no, and even though I really didn't want to go, I did. Besides, what could it hurt? This was only going to make me less ignorant, and help me learn more about their culture. I showed up, in a hot pink shirt, black leggings, imitation UGGS, and a black leather jacket. My hair was done curly, my eye makeup was heavy, and my piercings were placed in their usual spot (at the time it was my septum [bull ring], Medusa [top lip in the middle], and my tongue ring). Not to mention, my shirt revealed my giant tattoo bannered across my chest. I think it was safe to say, that I stuck out like a sore thumb. I was always used to a "come as you are" attire, so I was a little bummed that no one had told me what would be appropriate to wear to and LDS church service. Even though I looked different then everyone there, I didn't get as many dirty looks as I was expecting. I was greeted with sincere compassion, mostly by the male members, and was asked to sit with them. I laughed a little bit after that, because that's when I received more of the dirty looks I was expecting, mostly from the female members. I could kind of understand where they were coming from. I wasn't one of them, and this was a ward for young adults that were "looking for love". I wish they knew the reason for my coming, then they would have understood. The church service was traditional, and I didn't really take part in the singing of hymns, because I didn't really know what was being sung. I didn't want to sing something I didn't believe. There was no standing, and it all sounded very monotone. The whole church service was all about testimonies from LDS members. Shocking. Of course they would invite me to this church service. While I was listening, that overwhelming sense of doom came over me again, only this time, it was every time I heard the name Joseph Smith. This is not coincidence. No way. I felt the need to hold my composure until the end.

I attended their BoM/Bible study after the service to see what kind of information I could get from it. At the end, I asked the leader of the study some questions. I can definitely say that I had asked someone that was way over my head. He was so knowledgeable, and witty. I couldn't even compete with that. Not to mention, he was my age. Even with all his knowledge, he was still unable to answer the major questions I had, which put me at ease. Let me rephrase that. He answered my questions, but in a way where he sort of beat around the bush, and went on to a different subject to prove his point. That is what put me at ease. I knew I had the truth in my hands. The beautiful 66 chapter love letter that God wrote to us. There was no doubt in my mind.

In the last meeting with the Mormon Missionaries the week before, they told me to continue praying about it. They were hoping I would have an answer on what God had revealed to me the following week. In one week, I was going to have my fifth visit. This was probably going to be my last, considering that they were not there to be converted, they were there to convert me. So I prayed, for the first time in a long time. My prayer went something along the lines of :

"Dear Lord,

I know it's been a while, and I'm sorry for that. I just need a favor from you. Change my heart. Fill it with love and compassion for these Mormons, so that the words that come out of my mouth are loving. Guide me in my testimony, and help me not be discouraged. I don't know a lot about your word, but I'm hoping that the change that you put on my heart will be enough evidence to show them the truth.


The Last Visit

My palms were sweating, my heart was racing, my mouth was dry. This is where I discovered my biggest problem. Fear of man. I was not looking forward to telling them the things I have learned, why those things are true, and that my truth is nowhere near their truth. They knocked on the door, and let them in without hesitation. We started off with a quick prayer, led by yours truly, and continued where we had left off the previous week. They looked up at me, waiting for the answer they had come here for. I took a deep breath and told them exactly what I should have told them. Completely out of love, and compassion. I explained how much I cared about them and their salvation. I took the time to listen to their testimony, so that I had a right to tell them mine. I showed them Bible verses that revealed truth in God's word. The Bible I was holding in my hand was the only word, and nothing should be added or taken away from it (Ecclesiastes 3:14), His word is pure (Psalms 2:6), and Gods word is done. The end. Nothing else needs to be added because it is the true fullness of the Gospel (Revelation 22:18-19). In telling them all these truths, I literally started to tear up. I felt so sorry for them, because they truly believe they have it right. They are so close, but sadly, so far away from God. The most heart-wrenching part is that they don't even know how far they are. They were very impressed with the research I had done, and they were very surprised that I knew so many facts about their religion. Facts they already knew, and facts that they had learned that day. (All my facts were backed up with evidence, and doctrines, not from a Wikipedia Website.) I concluded my testimony with a "thank you".

This is where the beauty starts to unravel. I said "thank you" to them because it was well deserved. I told them that they may think they didn't show me salvation through thier word, but they showed me salvation through God's word. If they hadn't continued coming to my house to tell me about thier beliefs, I don't think I would have picked up a Bible for a long, long time, if ever again. They did a lot more for me then they know, and for that, I owe them so much.

This is where my passion has started. I am completely in love with the word of God, and have found so much joy in reading it. I am looking to go to school for Biblical Theology, and Christian Studies. My focus will be on God, and his word. I am so passionate about the Mormons, and showing them things that I have learned. Since God's word was revealed to me through them, accidently, I want to dedicate my life in doing the same thing back. Unfortunately, a lot of Mormons know that what they practice is in fact, not true, but continue to study it. Why? That I don't know. It is shocking considering this is what is preventing them from salvation.

If you are Mormon, and you have any questions about what kind of "contradictions", or "facts" I have talked about in this blog, feel free to ask me. I am not looking for a religious debate, I only want to help in anyway that I can. It is so important to take our focus off of our religion, and put it towards the relationship we want with Christ. Religion is man-made, but a relationship is pure, and true. God is love, and his word shows it. We just have to take the blindfold off, first.

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