GOSPEL MISSIONARIES ARE NEEDED
IN THE INTER-MOUNTAIN AREA OF THE UNITED STATES?
It is hard to imagine that in America there is a vast area that has as great a need for the Gospel to be preached as any Foreign mission field. That area is America's Mormon dominated Inter-mountain West. Geographically it centers in the state of Utah and includes large portions of Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Arizona, and Nevada.
In the mid 1840's the Mormon prophet, Brigham Young, the successor of Joseph Smith who founded Mormonism, led a group of his followers from Illinois to Utah. Joseph Smith was killed earlier in Carthage by a lynch mob. A newspaper had openly exposed him as a polygamist and Smith had ordered his followers to destroy it. The local state militia, incited by Smith's actions threatened to attack the Mormon town of Nauvoo, Illinois, Smith's headquarters. Smith surrendered to avert an attack and was jailed in Carthage on charges of inciting a riot. He and his brother were then killed a short time later in a hail of gunfire when angry local residents stormed the jail.
Opposition to Mormons continued until they were driven from the area. Brigham Young led a group of Smith's followers west looking for a land where they could practice their strange religion without outside interference. This group settled in the Salt Lake Valley and in the isolation of the area they flourished. Brigham Young built this empire called the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and it completely dominated this beautiful land. Today the LDS church boasts over twelve million members world wide and is the second largest financial institution west of the Mississippi River.
WHY IS MORMONISM A FALSE RELIGION?
Mormonism does not worship God, or the Lord Jesus Christ of the Bible. According to their teaching their god is an exalted man-god of flesh and bones. Their god was a sinful just like all men, who by his good works and faithfulness was rewarded and appointed to be the god of the Earth after his death. The Mormon god had a father as his father also had a father. Their god not always a god, but was given the earth to rule by a council of gods who rule the Universe. This council of gods recognized the Mormon father god's great works and rewarded him by giving him the earth to rule. The Mormon god god had a mother-god as well as a father.
They teach this exalted god-man abides in heaven with his family of many heavenly wives and children. There he and his wife(s) are busy producing "spirit" babies. When human babies are born on earth, these spirit babies come to earth and receive human bodies. They then are allowed to continue on the road to exaltation or what they called "eternal progression" and by being faithful to the Mormon church and its teachings. Thus, by their good works, they become worthy and can become gods like their heavenly father did. When they become gods, they receive their own world to rule.
The Mormon Jesus is also not the Jesus Christ of the Bible. Their Jesus is first born son of their man-god whose second son was Satan. They openly teach that Jesus and Satan were brothers. Many Mormons believe Jesus was married to several wives including Mary Magdalene and the other Mary.
Mormon salvation is quite different from biblical salvation. They are seeking through the process of "eternal progression" by good works and faithfulness to become "exalted" and in the future become a god themselves. These foundational teaching of the LDS church was expressed by Lorenzo Snow, who was President of the Mormon Church when he wrote the poem entitled, "Man's Destiny":teach that " A verse in the poem reads, “As man is, God once was. As God is, man may become."
WHY HAS THE AREA BEEN NEGLECTED AS A MISSION FIELD?
The Inter-mountain West is truly a pioneer mission field! There are literally hundreds of small towns without a Gospel witness or a Bible believing church. The area was settled at the direction and under the control of the LDS church in Salt Lake City. Most non-Mormons who tried to settle there and would not convert to Mormonism, were persecuted and discouraged from remaining. The geographic isolation of the land made it very easy to control. Today there are still many areas where the population is more than 90 percent Mormon although the state overall is reported to be 76 percent LDS.
Because of the almost absolute dominance of Mormonism it is a very difficult area to preach the Gospel and build Bible believing churches. The LDS people have historically opposed any intrusion by others into their heart land. Mormons are taught that Christian preachers are the "hirelings" of Satan and that all Christian churches are apostate and serve the Devil. Christians moving into these areas in the past have been looked upon with suspicion and at times openly treated with contempt.
Working among the Mormons can often be very discouraging. Mormon eyes are blinded by their false religion and Mormon hearts are hardened by their legacy of being "born" Mormons. They take great pride in their pioneer Mormon beginnings. To trust the real Christ as their Savior would be to deny their proud heritage. Religious and social pressures are extreme upon any who would attempt to leave the Mormon church.
Typically the work is slow often taking years to establish solid self sustaining churches. The boom or bust economy of the region also adds to the difficulty of building churches there. In several areas churches that appeared to be prospering and well on their way to being established have failed or had serious set backs due to a collapse of the local economy.
SOME ENCOURAGING RECENT EVENTS
Today, resent changes in the LDS church policies has to a large degree lessened open opposition. Historically Mormons did not call openly themselves by the name "Christian" choosing rather to be identified as "saints." However, because of economic pressures and their evangelistic work in areas outside of Utah (especially in the Eastern states) it has become advantageous for them to be identified as a Christian denomination. They are seeking to throw off the stigma of being identified as a cult and to move into mainline Christianity. In their efforts to appear "Christian," they are pursuing contact and cooperation with mainline Christian churches. This has had the effect of lessening opposition to preaching of the Gospel in Mormon areas. (It must be understood that the LDS church has not changed, but that they are attempting to change their image.)
Because of the climate and beauty of the land, many non-Mormons are moving to Utah to retire. Southern Utah is one of the fastest growing retirement communities in America. The coming of these retirees has been largely welcomed by the business men of this historically economically depressed area. Some of these retiring people are Christians who are interested in starting Bible believing churches. Many are lost and need to be reached with the Gospel.
The recent rebuilding of Utah’s main north south Interstate Highway 15, preparations for the 2002 Olympics, and current boom in the housing industry are bring great numbers of “outsiders” (non-Mormons) into Utah.
THE PRESENT NEED
Within the past ten years there has been an increase in Baptist missionaries working in the Inter-mountain West. There are still many small and medium sized towns without a Gospel witness or a Bible believing church. Even in the highly populated Wasatch Front there is a great need for Gospel preaching Baptist churches. Church planting missionaries are needed whom God has called to the area. The need is for committed men of God who are willing to bear the difficulties and the harshness of the area and who will faithfully and undauntedly preach the Gospel.
God has given a great opportunity for Bible believing churches to be a part in this work. Churches are needed, who with their prayer and financial help, will be partners with those God is sending to the Inter-mountain West.
God Loves People