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Utah outreach

November 2010 | by Bobby Gilpin

Utah outreach

I’m sure many of us think much the same when we hear the phrase ‘mission trip’. Understandably, we think of many places in this world where the poorest and most needy, both spiritually and materially, live.

     In my case, about ten years ago at a Bible conference, God directed me to go to Utah. I knew this was a different call to that which many receive.

     My name is Bobby. I am 27, live in Middlesbrough and am an area director for the Reachout Trust – a UK ministry that equips Christians to reach out to members of cults and those involved with the occult (www.reachouttrust.org).

     A year into being a Christian, through religious studies at college, I was introduced to members of the Mormon and Jehovah’s Witness churches.

     As a new Christian still thrilled by the simplicity of the gospel and God’s grace-filled love through Christ for me, I was amazed that these groups and many others like them claimed that the Christian church has ‘lost the plot’ and they are the true Christians.

    

True and false gospels

 

So through discussions with a Mormon in my class and a Jehovah’s Witness at the door, I began to wonder if these people had a point. So I went to the Bible and really tried to get to grips with what it taught about salvation and God. I found it to be totally different to what these groups teach.

     Through this study, I understood far more deeply that Christ came to save sinners, not people who had everything sorted and lived out every moral law they could find; and that I was saved unconditionally through Christ’s accepting love for me.

     This led me to another conclusion – that the Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses who faithfully knock doors all over the world with their new versions of the ‘gospel’ were actually left with nothing.

     I realised that they believe in a Jesus that does not have the power to save and were committed to a religion that demands so much of them, but cannot give assurance of salvation. Through this, God introduced me to my mission field.

     Since then I have studied the Bible in relation to the theology of these groups so that, as any opportunity comes, I can share the truth of the gospel with them and look to God to work powerfully through his Word.

     So ten years ago God challenged me to go to Utah, a state in the USA. For those who know little about Utah (other, maybe, than that the Osmonds live there), Utah has an estimated population of 2,737,000 according to the latest Mormon Church Almanac. In Utah there is a Mormon Church membership of 1,857,667. That is a 68 per cent membership; or, statistically speaking, one person in every 1.47.

     So there is no better place to go to reach Mormons and learn more about them. This is why I went on 30 September for a nine-day visit to Utah. I was working with Utah Partnerships for Christ (www.upfc.org).

     This is a mission organisation led by Russ East that has people come from around the world, all year round, to experience the culture of Utah and learn more about reaching out to Mormons.

 

Lost people

 

It was a fantastic opportunity to learn from Russ and many others in the Christian population there (around 2-3 per cent of Utah), who reach out to Mormons on a daily basis.

     At first, I wondered whether God was calling me to move to Utah (maybe one day he will!). However, I have lately been challenged about the 183,672 Mormons living in the UK (and numbers growing), as well as the Jehovah’s Witnesses and many others here.

     Many who join these cults come from a Christian background with which they are now dissatisfied, so when someone knocks on the door saying, ‘Well, that’s because the full truth is in our church’, they end up buying into it.

     UK Christians encounter so many causes that ask us to put our time and money into them, so I would not lightly want to add another one. However, I do give this challenge: when we get a knock on the door from these lost people, working so hard for something that will not last, do we give even a small amount of time to show some love; or share our testimony or a few verses of the Bible showing God’s grace?

     If you would like more information, or if I can help you in any way with this, please check out my blog at www.mormonisminvestigated.co.uk

Bobby Gilpin

 

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