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Preparing for UK Mormon Pageant 2013

January 2013 | by Bobby Gilpin

Preparing for UK Mormon Pageant 2013

 ‘Would you please tell me what Jesus means to you?’ This is the question I asked many Mormons on their way to their seats to watch the Manti Miracle Pageant, in June 2012.

This is an event held by the Mormon Church — full title, ‘The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ — when every year they produce an extravagant stage show, visually displaying Mormon beliefs in history and theology.
    Each night in Manti, Utah, around 14,000 Mormons made their way to their seats, with around 200 Christians looking for opportunities to engage them in some loving gospel-centred discussion. Similar pageants are held in Castle Valley, Utah; Mesa, Arizona; Palmyra, New York; and Nauvoo, Illinois each year.
    Dave Mitchell from Florida, who regularly goes to this, said, ‘I travel 2,254 miles to Manti each summer (at my own expense, on a retiree’s fixed income), only because my heart is broken for the Mormon people. They think they know the true God and the true gospel; they are headed for eternal destruction and don’t even realize it!’
    Keith Walker of Evidence Ministries says this regarding this outreach: ‘In Matthew 4:19, Jesus told us to be fishers of men. If you want to be an effective fisherman, you need to go where the fish are. Manti is my favourite fishing hole. I’ve made lasting relationships with Mormons in the area and I love being used of God to reach those I love’.
Opportunities

For me, being from Middlesbrough, UK, and having travelled to Utah and been involved with this outreach for two years running, I have been amazed at the opportunities to witness to a people that look and sound so clean and righteous on the outside.
    Yet they believe in a God that was once a man and now reigns in heaven with his wife; a Jesus that is their pre-existent Spirit brother; and a salvation that comes from doing everything their church asks them to do, not from trusting in the biblical Jesus.
    I do not say this to belittle or be disrespectful to a faith that has 14 million members and is often involved with great humanitarian work. But these individuals need to hear the biblical gospel.
    Jesus said in John 8:24, ‘Unless you believe that I am he, you will die in your sins’. What we believe about Jesus Christ determines our eternal destiny. Salvation is not about how well we dress or how sincere we are.
    Mormons are a mission field for Christians. This particular missionary task carries as much significance as sharing the truth of the gospel with the homeless, Muslims, prostitutes or any other part of society.
    So why am I saying all this? For the first time ever, the Mormon Church is holding a pageant outside the USA, and it is being held on the grounds of their temple in Chorley, UK, on the last week of July and first week of August 2013.
    The UK has around 190,000 Mormon members countrywide. It is very likely a large percentage of this number, as well as Mormons from surrounding countries, that will make the trip to this event.
    I see this as the best opportunity in years for Christians here to show members of the Mormon Church that we see them as being worth our time and effort to lovingly share the gospel with, as they make their way into the temple grounds.
    
Grace, not works

The Mormon Church believes that the Christian church is in a state of apostasy and has lost its authority to act in God’s name. We know, however, that although the Christian church faced many problems Jesus said he will build his church and the gates of hell will not overcome it. Nothing will overcome the church that Christ has established; there is no plan B in mind.
    In showing up to share with these people the power of the message of Christ, and in displaying the freedom and passion we have to serve him, we are giving a powerful witness to a people caught up in mere religion and in the mistaken need to perform good works in order to receive all that God has for them.
    So you may be thinking, ‘That sounds great, but I don’t even know what to say to the Mormon at my door’. Well that’s where I would love to help you! My ministry — UK Partnerships for Christ (www.upfc.org.uk) — exists to equip the church countrywide to be able to confidently and lovingly witness to these people, by offering seminars at your church, looking at the beliefs of Mormons (and Jehovah’s Witnesses) and how they relate to biblical Christianity.
    You will also learn how to communicate the gospel to them in an effective and loving manner that doesn’t involve going round in circles, as many of us have experienced!
    If this is something you’d be interested in getting involved with, or if your church would benefit from a seminar on how to share with Mormons (or Jehovah’s Witnesses), I would love to hear from you. Please e-mail me at [email protected] and I would be happy to give you further information. (See Events Diary, p.4).
Bobby Gilpin