by Richard Atwood
Find out more about the ministry of Free Will Home Missions at www.homemissions.net.
It was so sad. We gazed at the largest building in the world used for religious conferences. We marveled a beautiful temple with spires pointed to the sky. We met many smiling, helpful people, but we sadly realized these people at the Mormon Temple had been deceived. Utah is a beautiful state, but it is also the headquarters for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints—the Mormons. Though they speak with much of the same vocabulary as Christians, they use a different dictionary. Their beliefs are far from the truth of the Bible, and two Free Will Baptist churches are growing right in the heart of Mormonism.
Tim and Jessica Lewis (right) are planting a church in Ogden, Utah. Tim is the son of former home missionaries Bob and Brenda Lewis. In the county where they minister, there are 257 Mormon wards (the equivalent of our churches) and only 36 Christian churches. Tim says, “At least ninety-five percent of the population does not know Christ!” The church rents a former courtroom to house their worship services. With high ceilings and beautiful wood paneling, it is the nicest rented meeting place for a home missionary I have ever seen. Knowing no one when they went there, Tim and Jessica have worked hard, and the congregation has grown to approximately fifty. They are praying and searching for land or a facility they can purchase for a permanent location.
Randy and LeAnn Ledbetter and Scott and Staci Warren recently started services in Salt Lake City, Utah. When we visited them, we drove around the city to take in the sights. Mormon churches invade almost every block. Three to four different congregations meet in each of these buildings. As the Ledbetters and Warrens got the word out about their new church, they came in contact with a group of Christian families who were looking for a church. These families came together and began meeting in the Ledbetter’s home. Then a church offered to let them use their facilities without charge, but they are still looking for a building to rent. One of the good things about having a team work together is that you have someone with whom to pray, to help you in the work, and to encourage you.
The Bible says “…the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not...” (2 Corinthians 4:4a). Many people in Utah are spiritually blinded. Tim and Jessica, Randy and LeAnn, and Scott and Staci are like doctors trying to help the blind to see. Two young girls were our guides as we toured the Mormon Temple. At the end of the tour, they sang one of my favorite songs, “I Need Thee Every Hour.” Tears rolled down the cheeks of my wife because she was afraid those nice, young girls were spiritually blind.
From Scott Warren
(Scott is pictured above, distributing literature about the church.) Here in Salt Lake, you find a huge group of people cut off from the knowledge of the truth of Christ by a century and a half of religious, cultural, and political walls. "The Church" as it's known around here, has its hands in everything. Elected officials are mostly Mormon, and they directly or indirectly promote the agenda of the Mormon Church in every way possible. Religion defines the culture in Salt Lake. I know a man (John) who lost his family and his job because he left the Mormon Church and accepted Christ. His Bishop at the Mormon Church encouraged his wife to leave him and offered to help find her a man who would be faithful.
From Tim Lewis
A couple weeks ago, while eating lunch at a Chinese buffet with a family from the church, our Asian cashier noticed the cross that one of our men wears on a necklace. In broken English she asked him, "Do you go to a Christian church? I want to go to a Christian church so bad!" To make a long story short, we learned that she has only been in the states for six months and has only been to a Christian church once. She works 12-hour-days, six days a week and has never had life so easy!
We picked her up for church last Sunday. We were having communion that day. Her English isn't bad, but there was a lot she wasn't able to understand. She came forward to receive communion, and when she sat down, I saw her raise her cup and bread to Jessica (sitting next to her) and say, "What's this?" She had no concept of the meaning of this act we cherish.
It's amazing how many people live within the United States yet have no concept of Christ or Christianity. We are getting "Sunny" a Bible in Chinese, and I'm confident she'll be back as often as possible. She said she will try to get every Sunday off from work so she can come back to church. How many Christians working twelve-hour-days, six days a week would push to get Sunday off so that they could be in church?
LeiLani Child accepted Christ a couple of months ago. She was raised in the Mormon Church but hasn't been active since becoming an adult. I had been talking to her (along with other members of the church) for several months. She admitted that Christianity made sense, but she was afraid to make a commitment for Christ that she wouldn't follow through on. Her thinking was, "I used to believe what the LDS church teaches, and now I don't believe any of that is true. How do I know the same thing won't happen if I become a Christian?" We've found that many who leave the LDS church have this same sort of disillusion. But LeiLani accepted Christ in the living room of one of our church families with the members of her small group gathered around her. She is very shy, but she said she wanted to pray aloud. The Spirit of God was present in a powerful way as she said one of the sweetest prayers I've ever heard, asking Jesus to come into her heart. A couple of days later she told me, "I don't know why I waited so long. That's the best decision I ever made!" LeiLani is growing spiritually by leaps and bounds, studying the Scripture voraciously, and she is already beginning to get involved in the ministries of the church.