8/19/2020 12:53:04 PM
Baptism Sunday August 2020
In January of 2013 we were sent to the front lines of the mission field. Even though Utah is in the heart of America, it is a spiritual wasteland like nothing we have ever experienced (far more so than Las Vegas, New York, or San Francisco). Evangelicals make up less than 2% of the population. That's less than some Middle East countries. This is mainly because of the dominating cult of Mormonism. Though Mormons say they are Christians just like us, the open-mindedness only works one way.
If a Christian marries a Mormon and leaves his/her faith to join the Mormon church, all is good. However, if the exact same scenario happens in reverse, the Mormon Church considers the individual who leaves to be an “apostate” which is pretty much the worst form of treachery one could commit. Indeed, the LDS church makes it almost impossible to leave. Ask any former Mormon who has tried to have their name removed from the rolls. The hottest fires of hell are reserved for apostates. All that to say that this complicates ministry in Utah. For a Mormon to become a Christian would be like trying to row a boat upstream in a raging river. Indeed, I have often said planting a church in Utah is like planting a tree in concrete on the moon. Such a ministry has all the cultural and institutional factors working against them.
For example, last year when my daughters began attending the local public high school, I visited the beautiful new campus on back to school night. I met the dean and asked if I could start a Bible Study for the kids in one of the class rooms. He flatly refused on the grounds of “Separation of church and state”. But when I pointed out that the Mormon’s do it at their Seminary, he explained that the Mormons own land in the center of the campus where they conduct their religious classes during the school day—"It’s called ‘release time’,” he said. When I asked the Missionaries at the Seminary if I could use one of their classrooms, they also refused. The interesting thing is that the counseling office of the High School is plastered with pictures of students celebrating their call to Mormon Missionary service. So much for “Separation of Church and State.” As usual, tolerance works in only one direction. This has all been very disheartening.
So you can imagine our surprise, in June, when God sent us a lifelong Mormon with strong Utah roots. I want to tell you about Monica. She had been living in Hawaii and came to us during a crisis period in her life. It is my belief that God was using this crisis to do a work of transformation in her life. Much like a caterpillar going into a cocoon (2 Corinthians 5:17). On August 2nd, Monica was baptized as a new believer in Christ and it was a joyous occasion. She said, “Praise to God and the Lord Jesus who died on the cross for all of us. I have never felt so loved by anyone ever. My chains are broken and I will forever be in praise to God and my Savior and Redeemer Jesus Christ. I am forever a vessel to be used for His praise and glory. I am forever and for eternity a beloved child of God.” Those were her heart felt words that were declared publicly on the day of her baptism.
The church body came out to the Deer Creek reservoir to show their support as her new family. At this time Monica has no relatives who are Christians. She is facing a level of opposition that most Christians know little about (Matthew 10:36).
It is noteworthy that at the time Monica came to us, our church was one of the few churches in Utah that were open. On Baptism Sunday Monica said, “If you had closed your church, I would have never found you.” Our conviction that Christ is the Head of the church (Ephesians 5:23) has led us to the conclusion that nobody has the authority to tell us to close the church save Jesus Himself. We have held this position from the beginning and it is a glorious thing to see the church at large beginning to stand firm in this regard. So far in 2020 nobody from our entire church has had so much as a cough. This is certainly unprecedented, if not downright miraculous—especially in view of all the ominous media reports.
Whether SCOTUS upholds the rights of the church to gather or not, we know that the opinion of the one and only SUPREME is all that matters. “Those who oppose the LORD will be shattered. He will thunder against them from heaven; the LORD will judge the ends of the earth.” 1 Samuel 2:10