I grew up in the Mormon Church--better known as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I was a 5th generation Mormon on one side of the family and 4th or 5th on the other side. I grew up memorizing the Articles of Faith of the denomination as well as other "doctrines" as they were made available by the Presidency of the church through revelation, primarily in the era of David O. McKay.
As a teen-ager, I became disillusioned, not only in the tenets of the organizationbut also in the people, including my own family members, who were a part of the denomination in the tri-town area in which I lived. I saw too many who proclaimed faith in the teachings but did not follow them. At this time, we moved into an old farmhouse my parents had purchased and in which I found a number of Christian magazines and books. In reading them, my suspicions regarding the teaching of Mormonism--that it was "the one true church"--brought me under further conviction. Adding to this spiritual struggle was the fact of the Viet Nam war and the fear I had--as many young men I knew were being called into service by our country. The question that haunted my adolescent mind was how can they treat males differently from females--if all were found guilty--and moreover, how could they call this adultery when our denomination had so proudly taught me that Brigham Young, one of the first leaders of the church, had several wives and children in a house in Utah called "the beehive"? This caused me to wonder exactly what adultery and fornication were all about.
I left our little tri-community area shortly after graduating from high school and lived a rather promiscuous life in a larger town several miles away, which also had a large L.D.S. community as do most towns in northern Wyoming. I never attended church or MIA there as I had "skipped" most of the MIA classes as a teenager, anyway, in my rebellion toward the church.
In 1972, I met a young man, moved in with him, and immediately got pregnant. We weren't married until our baby boy was almost four months old, and we had moved back to the community I had grown up in. I still had no interest in the church. Although as our family grew, I began to wonder about the need to have the children in church.
We moved several times, and on the day that my third son and I came home from the hospital, my husband went to work in a mining camp six hours from us, and we were separated for almost nine months with occasional weekends together. Finally, the day came when we could move to the mining camp, and I was excited at the prospect of being a family once again. However, discouragement set in when I realized that I had developed a lifestyle which revolved around my home and children while my husband had adapted to the loneliness of mining camp life by creating a new lifestyle for himself in which he spent long hours at the bar or out on the prairies with the men he worked with during his free time after work and on days off.
Suffice it to say, our marriage was on the rocks . . . I threw his belongings out into the front yard and locked him out of the house on two occasions and was seriously contemplating divorce when I met two Christian ladies who changed the direction of my thinking and caused me to question my responsibility in holding our marriage together. Over a period of several months, these two Christian ladies shared with me how God had worked in each of their lives, and, eventually, I gave in to their urgings to attend the small Southern Baptist Church they belonged to.
On that morning, May 21, 1979, sitting there in the double-wide mobile that served as the church in that prairie mining town, I again came under great conviction that there was more to this "church thing," and for the first time, I heard the True Gospel preached. During the invitation I stood trembling and not even knowing what an invitation was about, and the Holy Spirit took hold of me in a way I’d never known before. When the invitation began, the congregation was singing words to a hymn I’d never heard . . . "Nothing But the Blood," and that song continued to bring conviction with words that said that NOTHING could take care of the needs in my life except the shed blood of Jesus Christ. And although I clutched my 1-year-old tightly in my arms to keep from having to move, the Lord had another purpose. When the invitation was extended, I turned, handing my baby into the arms of a friend who had come with me, and I went forward and took the Pastor’s hands with tears washing down my face and told him that I needed to know Jesus in that personal way he had spoken of in his message. So, he knelt with me there while the strains of "Nothing But the Blood" continued on the piano and led me in prayer as I asked the True Jesus Christ of the Bible to come into my heart and change my life.
When I stood to my feet, it was as if the weight of the world had been lifted from me, and as people came forward to greet me, I found the love I so desperately needed in my life at that moment . . . and for the first time in my life, I knew absolute peace.
When my husband returned home that evening from work, I had the house in order, the kids fed and in bed, and was ready to give him the news about what had taken place in my life. I’m not sure what I expected, but the reaction I got was not what I’d hoped for. His response was, "That’s ok for you if that’s what you want. Just don’t be preaching it to me." Discouraged but still feeling the peace of God, I gave it back to Jesus and prayed my first prayer as a Believer, asking God to work the same miracle in my husband’s life that He had worked in my own. I shared what had happened with my Christian friends, who encouraged me to continue to faithfully attend church and to pray for my husband. They took on the mission then of discipling me, and over the weeks, with their encouragement, my faith grew, and I continued to grow in Christ. I began attending on Wednesday and Sunday evenings as well and asked others to pray with me for my husband and was excited to attend several revival services and send my kids to VBS over the summer.
On July 4h, I was to be baptized in the Little Medicine Bow River, but my husband wanted to join friends from work and their families on a fishing/camping trip. I compromised by saying the kids and I would join him if he would promise to be back in time for me to be baptized and asked him to come with me for that. He said that he would. However, as the afternoon wore on, he did not return to the campsite from fishing upstream with a friend and so in frustration and nearly in tears, I loaded the kids into our pickup truck, backed out and started to leave the campground. He came around a bend in the creek and asked me where I was going. I reminded him of the baptism, and he told me that he wanted to stay at the camp, so we got into an argument. I reminded him of his earlier promise, and giving in, he climbed into the truck with me and drove back to the church with me where we boarded the church bus and drove out to the river for baptism. My husband was impressed with the friendliness and joy in the people he met that day, and several weeks later, when I was home, not feeling well, he had to pick up the boys from Sunday School and stayed to hear the end of a sermon. Then, I invited him to attend a revival service and dinner one night. Much to my surprise, he agreed to go and that night he gave his heart to Christ as well.
Since then, although we’ve struggled, we’ve grown, and our marriage is what God intended marriage to be. We’ve been married almost 26 years, and although there have been struggles, we have worked through the difficulties and have come to love and appreciate one another more and more in those years. In addition, he surrendered to the ministry just a few years later, went to a Christian College for 3 years, and is now teaching Youth and is a Promise Keepers Point Man, helps lead a men’s ministry, and carries out several positions of responsibility in our church. The Lord saw fit to give us another son shortly after we were both saved, and we’ve seen all of our boys accept Christ and pray daily for Him to "work out their salvation" by growing them as He has us.
Our God is a gracious God of mercy, light and love, who is not willing that any should perish but that all should have eternal life. He has equipped me to minister to other women, especially women who are in difficult marriages, and to minister, along with my husband, to many "foundlings" in our world. We have adopted another son, who is a young adult now and is not saved. We covet your prayers for him. God has also restored to us a relationship with my husband's daughter from his first marriage. She and I are very close. Most recently, the Lord has called me to establish a Children’s Church ministry in our local church, which has never had one. I covet your prayers in that effort as well.
It is my prayer that "all who are in the darkness will see the light." If you are in the darkness of a cult or a denomination whose primary focus is not in leading you to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, then I would encourage you to pray, asking God to give you that relationship and to guide you to a place of service in Him. Please contact me at: [email protected] if I can answer questions or minister to you in any way.
In His Service,