Evolution: Alive and Well
By Annette Timm
I have been a WELS member all my life. I was raised in a strong WELS family. Except for kindergarten, I attended a WELS school at every level and eventually received my BS degree from a WELS college. I was Lutheran through and through. . . and proud of it! So proud, in fact, that I didn’t really read my Bible that often – I had already taken years of religion classes, you know. Did you notice that I attended church every Sunday and was even on time for all the Lenten services? I gladly sang in the choir and served where needed when necessary. Oh, yes, I was a very faithful servant. In my own dictionary, “faithful” was defined as being seen in the right location at the right time (church) and serving in visible ways (music). Funny how my heart was never fully engaged. I had head knowledge (and even now I’m not so sure of that), but my heart was not passionate for the mission given all Christians by our Lord. But I certainly was comfortable and pretty sure I was doing enough.
Then, God stepped in. And the evolution began.
The week of witnessing in Utah started with me thinking “I’m far superior to these Mormons. I will tell them what they need to know (add plenty of emphasis here).” So even though my nerves were just a bit jumpy, I was pretty confident of being able to rattle off my rehearsed gospel presentation of four whole sentences while hoping I didn’t really need to recall the actual Bible verses with references. The first lower middle class neighborhood that my partner and I “invaded” resulted in several people agreeing with us and seeming to not be really interested. What? Can they not hear what I am saying? Now I’m getting angry! I worked hard on memorizing my four sentences!
Day 2. I polished my presentation a little. Did a little research on the Mormon definition of forgiveness, which seemed to be the buzzword I heard several times on Monday. I was starting to understand why I was getting so much agreement from my listeners. Their definitions are all messed up. I needed to understand my Bible better. I was up late studying. What does repentance really mean to me? What does that strange word, atonement, signify? God was connecting with me.
Day 3. Last night I cried. After a visit to Temple Square in downtown Salt Lake City, I was so saddened by the young girls, the “sisters” who reminded me so much of my own daughter and were serving what they thought was a holy mission to bring others into the LDS church. It struck me that these girls, and the other Mormons with whom I had talked, will not be joining me in heaven, but are trapped in a belief system that can only have been invented by Satan. I could actually feel his presence at the Temple, and I needed to leave the grounds before that tour was complete. I sat down in my hotel room and prayed for God to reach these people with more than I had to offer. He was leading me to rely on him. The evolution was continuing.
Day 4. Everywhere I looked on the streets, in the homes, in the neighborhood parks, I was noticing beautiful families – who were lost. These precious children, with their blonde ponytails and plaid shorts, did not know the true Jesus and they would likely grow up caught up in the demands of their legalistic god and legalistic culture. Someone has to help these families! The moms who came to the door looking haggard and then transformed into smiling hostesses when hearing our introductions as “Christian missionaries” needed strength! I was really beginning to appreciate the blessings I had been given and the God who gave them to me.
Day 5. My week of witnessing in Utah had come to a close. But I found it very hard to leave. Some of these people have never heard a true Christian message other than the one the LDS church tells them is “Christian,” but is far from it. One lady, with a measuring tape around her neck indicating being in the middle of yet another home improvement project, cocked her head in just a funny way when hearing my now heartfelt gospel message on her doorstep. She didn’t express an interest in inviting me in or hearing more from me, but just the way she looked at the handout – would she go inside and read every word and then be amazed at this very different God? I sure pray that is the case. I was ready to hug her and tell her that God loves her and that he wants her at his side forever. I hoped the Spirit had worked through me. Now I pray that he will quickly work in her that same way.
Day 6 and forever. My life is changed. I have found the need to read my Bible daily, noting in a journal what wonderful truths and promises God is pointing out to me as I go, and thinking how the LDS church misunderstands those same precious words. I am discovering more and more lies within the LDS church – and I rejoice when I read or hear of someone whom He has lead out of that cult. The last week of June, 2016, is already marked off on my calendar to be spent with fellow missionaries in Utah. It will be a joyful reunion with good Christian friends, but I’m hoping before that time that some young Mormon missionaries happen to knock on my door. Or that I can witness to anyone who needs to hear our Heavenly Father’s comforting words. The Holy Spirit has pressed my “On” button – in a way that I was not expecting.
Thank you, God, for your work in me. Now it’s no longer about me, it’s about all of your children who still need to meet you personally, through your true Word and promises. I am yours. Use me.