Moriel Missions Report: Manti, Utah 2003 - Mission to the MormonsWritten by Jacob Prasch
The Watach Mountains were fast disappearing out of the corner of my eye as the plane climbed out of the Salt Lake Valley. The sun was brilliant, blazing and in front of us as we headed east and home. The end of another Moriel Mission Trip to Mormons in Utah was quickly approaching. But the memories are still fresh, wonderful, exciting and at the same time, sad.
This years mission trip occurred between June 16 and June 29, yet the preparation for it started six months before those dates. January brought the first weekly teaching sessions and gathering for prayer. After church, each Sunday, 9 missionaries met, gave of their time, to learn about the doctrines of Christianity and the false doctrines of Mormonism. One week we would learn about the Trinity and the different trinity of Mormonism, another week the gospel of Christianity and the different gospel of the LDS church. Week after week we all studied the Truth and then laid a false doctrine beside it, the differences are glaring. By early spring role-playing began. We broke up into small teams were one person would play the role of a Mormon; another would be a Christian missionary. Back and forth the dialogue would go, Mormon objections to Christian doctrine would be brought out, rabbit trails snuck into the conversations. Role-playing is used in training to help ready the Christian missionary to what they will hear and face when they actually encounter a Mormon. Mid-spring brought fund-raising, candy sales and the distributing of telephone directories; the result $12,000 raised. With airfares bought, reservations made and the roster set, June 16th was rushing upon us.
The Moriel Team: Jason Catizon, Marilyn Mance, Frank Mance, Alec Ansbach, Kelly Luteran, Kelly Mallon, Leslie and Kimberly McCarthney, David Lister and a late edition to the team Moriel Missionary to the Jews, Kevin Doyle. Kevin would fit right in, as the Mormons believe they are descendants of the Jewish people.
Are Mormons Christians?
A few questions and statements are often asked and made to me, "Why witness to Mormons? They seem like good people. Aren't they Christian?" But the real question is, "Are they really Christian?" What is Mormonism and what do they believe? Mormons believe they are the descendants of two groups of people; one called the Jaredites and the other is a group who descended from a Jewish prophet named Lehi. The first group immigrated to the Americas right after the confusion at the Tower of Babel and Lehi's group sailed to the Americas right before the Babylonian captivity. The Book Of Mormon deals mainly with the second group and the wars that occur after the death of Lehi and the descendents choosing to follow either one of two men: Laman or Nephi. These two groups became known as the Nephites and the other the Lamanites. The Nephites and Lamanites supposedly spread across the Americas and built large cities all the while growing to millions of peoples. Mormon belief further teaches that the Lamanites are the American Indians. These two groups warred with each other till one last Nephite was left, Moroni a son of Mormon. It was Moroni who buried the written record of his people in the hill Cumorah in upstate New York after the last battle and the victory of the Lamanites. It is from these records which were supposedly recorded on gold plates, which would make up the Book Of Mormon. These plates, it is believed, were later discovered and then translated by the founder of Mormonism, Joseph Smith,
According to Mormonism, Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon from "reformed Egyptian" into "King James" type English, with the help of a seer stone. Joseph would place the seer stone into a hat draw it tight around his face and then words or sentences would appear. Joseph would read the letters, words or sentences to a couple of men named Oliver Crowdery or Martin Harris. These men would then write the words down and if written incorrectly the words would not disappear from Joseph's site. The finished translation was so perfect in Joseph Smith's eyes that he called it, "The most correct book of all time." All time must have meant something different in his day as the Book Of Mormon has had over 5,000 changes since it was first published. Editions of the Book Of Mormon after 1981 include an acknowledgment that corrections have been made to the text. To me, this means that the god of Mormonism can't spell very well, has problems with punctuations, and has a misunderstanding of various textual meanings, along with many other grammatical and historical inaccuracies. In other words he can't keep his story straight.
Mormonism has evolved over the years with many changes. From the one god of the Book Of Mormon in 1830 to the many gods of his "King Follett" discourse where Smith reveals that there are billions of gods and that you can become a god to Brigham Young's pronouncement that "Adam is the one god which we have to do with." Mormonism's foundation has always been on a shifting bed of sand. In a nutshell Mormonism teaches that their god (Elohim) was a man, who became a god and comes from a planet near a star called Kolob. This god created this earth (by organizing the existing elements) and made Adam and Eve and left them here. Elohim put them into a situation where they had to sin in order to reproduce and populate the planet. The reason they (Adam and Eve) needed to populate this planet is because Elohim is on his planet with his goddess wives making spirit babies who will come and inhabit the physical bodies of the descendents of Adam and Eve. This god at a point in time again comes to this planet and has physical relations with the virgin Mary, "so that no other man would do it" and she produces the baby Jesus who was born in the land of Jerusalem. This "Jesus" who was at the council of gods, offered a plan of redemption for fallen mankind and then is given the right to come to earth and carry out this plan. His plan of redemption is opposed by his half brother Satan who wanted to force everyone to convert to belief in the "Heavenly Father." A war takes place in heaven and Satan and his followers lose. Those that are humanly spirits that rebel against Elohim and Jesus' plan are sent to earth and put into bodies with dark skin as a curse. Satan and his angels are spirts that tempt and help to destroy mankind. Jesus' plan was to give everyone free agency and let them choose to serve, worship and love Elohim. Well, Jesus comes and does everything according to his father's will and does not sin, is crucified and resurrected and raised a god or in Mormon theology an exalted man. Now all the Mormon has is to follow in Jesus' footsteps and commands, "Be ye perfect as your Father in heaven is prefect." Here's the theology and the catch, to becoming a god, all you have to do is quit sinning on this earth by the time you die and perform various temple ordinances, pay all your different tithes along with following all the commandments of god. These commandments would include those in the Bible, The Book Of Mormon, Doctrines and Covenants, the Pearl of Great Price (these last two are additional books of scriptures within Mormonism) and any other commandments given by the prophets of Mormonism. These commandments have to be followed and one must stay in this state of "perfection" until the end of their lives. Then at the end of your life you will be given the grace that Jesus attained for you in the garden by the shedding of blood. (For a detailed explanation of this Mormon doctrine called "celestial law" please see Moriel's website and my article on it.)
So you can see this isn't the Jesus of historic Christianity and not the God of the Bible. Each of these statements can be backed up with Mormon scripture and is easily retrievable from many Mormon websites and documents or numerous Christian discernment websites. I hope you now understand why Moriel witnesses to Mormons and send missionary teams out to Utah each year.
Death Written on Stones
During our training throughout the year we have all become acquainted with various Mormon doctrines and different techniques for witnessing to them. The placing of the Mormon under "the Law" is very effective and disturbing to the Mormon. The Bible teaches us that the Law is our teacher and it also shows us we need a Savior. We are also informed by the Bible that the Law is death written on stones (Romans 7; 1 Cor. 3) So it is our hope that when we place the Mormon or make the Mormon realize they are under the law, we are doing this in hopes that they will be taught that their works cannot save them and that they must die to themselves and trust in the one true gospel of grace which is found in the Holy Bible. It must be stated that this is just one approach to witnessing to Mormons and there is no right approach except the one were you are lead of the Holy Spirit to use with the Mormon.
The Mormon Miracle Pageant
After arriving in Salt Lake City Utah, we head south to Manti. Manti is a very small town in the middle of Utah. A rural area that is 98% Mormon and is also home to a great many fundamentalist Mormons who practice polygamy. The True and Living Christ of Jesus Christ (another cult of Mormonism) resides in Manti. This little town puts on a pageant each year showcasing Mormonism and drawing over 150,000 people and up to 25,000 on a given night. For about three hours before this Mormon Miracle Pageant starts, Christian missionaries will stand and witness in public areas where the Mormons have gathered to view the event. Mormons will often come up to Christians to talk to them about why they are there. Most conversations are amicable and friendly, but occasionally Mormons get mad, angry, cry, or yell at what they are hearing.
The daily routine for the missionary begins with morning devotions after breakfast, followed by lectures from some of the world's leading authorities on Mormonism. These lectures are held at the one local church in the whole of the Sanpete Valley, Ephraim Church of The Bible. Then a break for lunch and some free time to study or prepare for the evenings witnessing. After dinner, prayer and singing before we head up to the pageant.
Besides our missionary team there are at least a dozen missionary teams from all over the United States that come to the pageant each year. This year we had at least 150 to 200 Christian missionaries witnessing to Mormons each night of the pageant. An army of missionaries is an answer to prayers from ten plus years ago when there would be 10 to 15 missionaries and hundreds of Mormons surrounding each one of us. It is so much better witnessing in Manti now as you can often witness one on one or one on two or in small groups, allowing for more in depth explanation of the gospel and the ability to build relationships. One relationship I have built is a young man named Nathan who is 19 and I have been talking to him since he was nine. He was married this year to a beautiful young woman named Miriam (who believes in polygamy and will support Nathan if he decides to practice it). It should be stated that polygamy is necessary for attainment of godhood in Mormonism. Early Mormonism practice polygamy, but later Mormons fearing the American government and their expulsion from The United States received a "new" revelation that this is to be practiced just in the afterlife. Nathan belongs to the True and living Church and each year he searches me out to talk to me and see if I have anything new to talk about. This year I left him with a video on Mormonism and DNA research and how DNA shows that the American Indians cannot possibly be related to Jew. I also left him with a DVD on The Pearl of Great Price and how it is a complete fraud and that Joseph Smith did not translate correctly this ancient papyrus that research shows is a common Egyptian burial document called the Book of Breathings. He is an honest young man who does take into account what has been said to him and searches out answers. I pray that the Lord will reveal the Truth to him. By his coming back to see me each year I know that Jesus is drawing him by his grace and that I know God's Word will not return void.
Each night of the pageant thousands of Mormons were witnessed to and the gospel seed planted. The results are that 16 Mormons have come to know the Lord. In fact the first night of the pageant one couple that had been witnessed to for over twelve years at the pageant came to know the Lord. It set the tone for the rest of the pageant. The results of someone coming to know the Lord are in His hand and it is the responsibility of the Christian to be a faithful seed planter and "waterer." It is this reliance, trusting the Holy Spirit and the results are in the hand of the Lord that unburdens the Christian and his thinking that he has to do it all and do it all now! This thinking that a person has to be converted immediately or that the Christian has to lay out the whole gospel every time we meet or see someone can hurt both the seeker and the Christian witness. One to the Christian it weakens ones faith in the Holy Spirit to do His work and that He will bring it to completion and to the seeker it can sometimes be very overloading to receive so much truth. Have you every stopped and thought about the fact that God became man? That is so mind-blowing! Jesus as our example sometimes left people with just the law (the rich young ruler, Matt 19, or only as much information as was needed as in the case of the woman at the well John 4). In the case of the woman at the well we see He was patient with her, yet always driving to a point where she would know He is the Messiah. Also, for the others that followed her to Jesus, it was after a couple of days that they came to believe.
Bold For The Lord
One of the amazing things that I see each year at the pageant is an increasing number of young Christians coming out to witness. These young people are so on fire for the Lord, so full of zeal combined with knowledge. To me this gives me a hope that young people can be reached for the coming kingdom of our Lord. As I watched a couple of my disciples Kelly and Kelly witness to a group of Mormons, I noticed an older man join the young people. He came with a bad attitude and it only got worse as these young women calmly and patiently held their ground for the Truth. I wanted to step in and protect them but I decided to pray for them and it was that this point he started pulling the young Mormon kids away from Kelly and Kelly, yet they didn't want to go. They wanted to stay and hear what these two girls had to say. He didn't shake them; he didn't faze them as they stood in the Lord's strength. But he was successful in physically pulling them away from the girls. Before leaving Kelly Luteran asked if this was the free agency that Mormonism taught? Mormonism teaches that everyone has free agency to choose but it is often taken away or pushed asunder when it comes to choice about Truth. The Mormon kids protested heartedly and wanted to exercise their free agency but he would have none of it. After leaving the two Kellys' broke into tears over what was real interest being expressed by the young Mormons and their being physically dragged away. We truly believe that God will send more Christian witness to these young people.
There are a thousand more stories that could be told about this mission trip. I could tell you of our friend Alec, a Russian who escaped over the Berlin Wall and had a Divine appointment to witness, in Russian, to a couple of young Russian men there in Manti, or the angry young woman who was lead to the Lord by Kevin Doyle in a gentle and loving way and turn away much wrath. Maybe your story will be told here next year? But what I would most like for you to get out of all this is that God has commanded us to go into the entire world and preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. Is God calling you to go into the mission field? How about coming with us to Utah next June? Does He want you to reach out beyond your comfort zone and take the gospel to a dying world, a world in need of Light? Please pray about this and see what He would have you do. Maybe you might not be inclined to go into the mission field, but you can become involved with missions. Every missionary I know stresses their primary need is to be covered in prayer. Can you help with this? Maybe you have resources that could help missionaries this is needed too! So I encourage you, seek what He would have you do, take a look at the Moriel Mission web page and become involved pray for the missionaries, support them, there will be great blessings and the crowns will all be laid at Jesus' feet on that great day, and all of the glory will go to Him.
David E. Lister