Tonight I have been reflecting back on a significant event in our lives. It actually happened November 10, 2003. Our son, James, had the privilege of leading a young woman, Michelle, out of Mormonism and into a personal saving relationship with Jesus Christ.
James had written an argumentative paper for his college English class in the Fall of 2002. The title of his paper was "Mormonism is Not Christianity Because The Jesus of the Bible is Not the Same Jesus as that of the Mormon Church." There was one other Christian in his English class and all the other students, as well as his professor, were Mormons. As soon as James called and told us what he had decided to write on, I sent a prayer request out to all of our fellow prayer warriors. That paper was prayed over, not only for the professor to be objective in her grading, but that the paper might have an impact. An impact it did have. It has circulated the globe (PTL for email) as people have asked to have copies of it, but the most important impact was when it was used to begin a young woman's search for Truth! In her mind, Truth would stand up to scrutiny.
Michelle's "pedigree" reminds one of Paul in the New Testament. Her Mormon credentials were impeccable, her family was of pioneer stock, her father is the first counsellor to the Bishop in their ward, and she had held many callings in the church.
James and Michelle were lab partners in one of their classes so they were able to talk while they worked. One of their conversations was about James being born again. She really didn't understand exactly what that was, however, she did know that he was not Mormon. One night in early November Michelle got online to find out what Born Again Christians were. As she read she was confused and didn't really understand too much about it. She wrote down some verses and began studying the Bible that night.
The next day Michelle had a lab with James and she shared that she was tired from being up so late reading and studying about Christianity. James offered to let her read his paper that he had written that explained his beliefs very clearly. Michelle agreed to read it and let him know her thoughts on it. They planned to meet to go over her thoughts. She truly believed that she had the truth and that it would stand up to any opposition.
Michelle began digging into the paper, sure she could disprove his position. She found scriptures to support her claims. As she states in her testimony, "I was armed and ready to talk to James about everything."
Now, along with researching James' paper, Michelle was reading the Bible every night for three or four hours. This was the first time that she had really read it and soaked in what the Bible had to offer. (Isn't the Holy Spirit wonderful?) On Friday, they met and talked about some of the things that she disagreed on. They discussed about an hour. After talking about James' paper James began questioning Michelle, finding out what she knew about some of the teachings of her church, such as the Adam-God doctrine, the conception of Christ, and blood atonement. Michelle was absolutely shocked that James would say that the Mormon church taught that God the Father had physical relations with Mary. That was blasphemous to her!
They talked further and she asked James the one question that sent her head spinning for the rest of the weekend. "Okay, James, tell me, do you think that because I'm Mormon, I'm not going to go to heaven?" James chose his words very carefully, "If you do not believe in the True Christ you will not be saved. But I can't be the judge of anyone's heart." They agreed to meet on Sunday but as Michelle walked away she began to question things in her mind.
Michelle went straight to the library to check out the doctrines of the Mormon church that James had shared with her. She found all the information and struggled with why she had not been taught that growing up. She thought maybe she was just misinterpreting things. So she called her dad. He answered all her questions with the answers that James had said. That night Michelle had trouble sleeping. Thoughts regarding her eternal salvation consumed her. She was desperate to find the truth. Even reading the Bible confused her because it contradicted everything she had been taught.
On Sunday as she was getting ready for church she came across the verse in 1 Corinthians 14:33: "For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace." She knew then that God would not confuse her. She was skeptical as she listened at her church that morning. She did more reading and studying before meeting with James. She had pages of questions for him. By the end of their conversation she admitted "that Joseph Smith was a false prophet, thereby coming to the natural conclusion that the Book of Mormon and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints were both false." That was a tremendous shake up to her belief system which she had held on to for her 22 years. She wasn't ready to make a decision yet....fear still held her.
Michelle told James that she would be praying that night. "Which God will you pray to?" he asked. She responded it would be the God of the Bible. That night she couldn't get enough of God's Word. One of the passages that she read was Ephesians 3:14-19 that says, "For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filed with all the fullness of God." (emphasis mine) That's what Michelle wanted!
Monday morning she contacted James and asked if she could ask him some more questions. She asked, he answered until she came to the Ephesians verse. When Michelle asked him how to get "that" he explained the plan of salvation to her and then asked her if she was ready to accept Christ into her heart. She thought about it for a minute and then told him yes. They knelt together as she prayed the most important prayer in her life. As Michelle tells it, she felt that peace she was longing for. "The confusion, the fear, the doubt, it was all gone."
Now, when James' paper is sent out far and wide, Michelle's testimony accompanies it. Who would have thought what kind of impact God would cause with that paper? Would you continue to pray for Michelle? Her family is still steeped in Mormonism and there are times that she feels quite estranged from them. Her story doesn't end there....God has used her in mighty ways and she has grown mightily through the study of His Word. For all of us, here in Utah, that was one amazing week! To see God reach down and touch a young woman who desired to know The Truth was inspiring and faith building!