Utah: Home of the Latter Day Saints (7)

We come now to the end of my time in Salt Lake City. Hopefully reading my journals has been an encouragement, an exhortation, or an insight into evangelism. I am thankful for everyone who supported me financially and prayerfully so I was able to be a part of this trip. SLC did not serve to radically alter my thinking; it did not set my life on a new course. But it did teach me to be gracious in my presentation of the Gospel. It taught me more of how to serve. It taught me to be thankful for my own salvation.

Today was hard. I think I’ve started every journal entry with that comment. But I’m beginning to realize that ministry isn’t easy. It is inconvenient. It constantly confronts me about my own imperfections and sinful attitudes. But I wouldn’t trade this week for anything. I requested to go back to Temple Square as opposed to a presentation on LDS ceremonies. Its not that the presentation wouldn’t be profitable, I haven’t even talked to an LDS for three days. That bathroom took forever to fix. The Lord is teaching me what true service is—doing what He wants me to do as opposed to what I want to do for Him. It was a struggle, as I definitely had the attitude of “I drove over seven hundred miles to do this?” No. I drove 700+ miles to serve the Lord. Because I worked 17 hours on the bathroom, others were able to witness to the LDS. I need to learn to joyfully serve regardless of the activity. Thank you Lord for the opportunity to grow.

Rod, Leslie, and I were the only ones who decided to go to Temple Square as opposed to the presentation. We got there, ate lunch, then split up as opposed to working in a threesome. I see why missionaries typically work in pairs. Flying solo is no easy task. I started out by taking another tour of the convention center. I wanted to talk with a tour guide for a long time, and had a good conversation on the tour earlier in the week. I intentionally didn’t go in at the same time as a group of people, so as to not get attached to a large tour. It didn’t matter. I got attached to a tour of six other people and didn’t have a chance to talk to anyone for an hour. Frustrating. Afterward, I talked with the tour guide for a couple of minutes. He just told me to go over to the visitor’s center if I had questions.

I was kind frustrated about the lack of opportunity and tired of approaching people, so I went to the Visitor’s Center. I asked for a copy of their articles of faith, and sat on a couch comparing the articles and the Bible. I knew somebody would approach me, as that is why the volunteers are there. Little did I know what was coming. An elder came up and asked if I had any questions. I said yes, and asked about the ordinance of baptism and the thief on the cross. I like starting out with that because it is easy to question and provides a natural segue into the grace of God. The elder said paradise in that verse is not heaven, but rather Spirit Prison. I commented that it would be funny to call prison a paradise! I asked about works and the free gift grace of God. He answered, and I asked another question. And that is when he went off. Everything was said with a smile, but he was deadly serious,

This is the problem with you people. You come to our property and our temple with closed minds, seeking only to argue and not understand the truth. You are no different than the Pharisees of Jesus’ day who saw the Messiah with their own eyes yet rejected Him. You care nothing for the truth, but only for your own arguments and agenda. You carry your Bibles around and do not seek to know. I hate you all being here. You need to get out of our temple, our square, and our property. And everyone else you’re with. You all need to stop coming back here. We know who you are, who you’re with, and you are not welcome. You’re a bunch of Pharisees and arguers who see the real Jesus and care nothing for Him.

I wasn’t escorted out, but rather left on my own free will. I walked down the street into the building next door, and started again. It is difficult. I have no intention of seeming argumentative. But how do I confront people with the Gospel persistently? Getting told to leave doesn’t weaken my resolve to preach the gospel. It was intimidating to talk to him. He was three times my age, and an upstanding member of the church. But I have the truth and he does not. I think I’m beginning to understand what Paul meant when he said we preach an offensive message. The Gospel is good news, but good news which people really don’t want to hear.

Later in the day, I got into a conversation with two foreign sisters in a subfloor of the very same building. We talked for forty-five minutes, and they agreed with almost everything I said. The language barrier of English compounded with the spiritual language barrier and proved almost impossible to overcome. I didn’t know any other way other than to say, “The Bible says you are following a false Messiah, and are going to hell.” It killed me to say that. But I had to. Father forbid me from antagonism, but I must say the truth. If the only way to get the truth across is to come down hard, I’ll do it out of love. It is hard to present the gospel in a loving manner when the very message of the gospel offends every human sensitivity. But I’ve got to try.

Tonight was fun. Stayed up until 3. We’re leaving at 6:30 tomorrow morning, so probably not the best decision, but hey–live a little.  I’m going to miss The Commons, the team, and Utah itself. This time will never be repeated. Great new friends made, great opportunities to witness, great time in the snow. But it will never quite be the same. But this is life, enjoy the present, for the you can’t go back in time. God, bless the conversations we have had over the last week. Don’t let the LDS rest until they repent and turn to you. I firmly believe you can accomplish anything.


Rod, Leslie, and I in front of the Temple.

Temple Square Proper

There are 14,000 seats behind these!

Me, Ellen, Molly, Rod, Eric Rebecca

Now, just for fun…

Clowning around with the Cal Baptist guys.

Eric showing off his purse-wearing capabilities.

Rod, as he might have been.

Heather chowing down.

Thanks again for reading. I plan to resume “normal” blogging now that I’m finished with my recollections of Utah.


One response to “Utah: Home of the Latter Day Saints (7)”

  1. BHodges says :

    If your description of the comments by the Temple Square personnel were accurate, I regret that rudeness was involved in the exchange. Some of the exasperation likely stems from assertions such as yours being inaccurate. I suggest reading “How Wide the Divide,” a book by a LDS scholar and Evangelistic scholar regarding the differences and some similarities between evangelistic views and LDS views. It really cuts through a lot of important issues and would likely help you understand the LDS position more. I know it helped me understand an evangelical viewpoint, and I really enjoyed it.

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