“How was your trip?” That’s the obvious, standard question you often get from people who knew you had the privilege of going on a SEBTS mission trip. I heard that question several times recently after leading a trip to the Salt Lake City (SLC) area over Fall Break. Before sharing some highlights from the trip, my first response was often something like this—“It was beautiful and weird!” I mean, the mountains are awesome in just about whatever direction you look. The beauty and majesty of God’s creation always remind me of God’s power and creativity. When I was serving in upstate New Hampshire years ago, the beauty and power of mountains and waterfalls were things that God used to keep me sane.
Then, there’s the other part, the weird part. By weird, I mean bizarre or unusual in a way that’s intriguing. Everything was really nice, pretty much everywhere we went—the people, the places, the weather. At the same time, it was weird; it was different. How else do you explain a place where the large majority of the people follow the teachings of Mormonism.
We met some really great people on our trip. We were treated with respect, and those who hosted us were very gracious. In addition, the beliefs and teachings of Mormonism often use the same terminology that other evangelical Christians would use, yet when you look under the surface at the meaning and use of those same words, some stark differences come to the surface. We are talking about two different understandings of Jesus, two different understandings of grace, two different understandings of faith and works, and two different understandings of heaven and hell for starters.
This was my first trip to SLC. It’s a beautiful place; it’s a weird place. I hope God gives me the opportunity to visit there more often. Moreover, I pray that God will raise up more planters like Ben Helton. They’ve gotten off to a good start in the last year. Pray that God sustains Ben and his family. Pray that God will raise up leaders around him and give them wisdom, courage and strength to minister faithfully in a context that is spiritually heavy. Pray that God will provide all that’s needed as they serve people who have trusted Christ and chosen to leave the LDS Church.
I pray that God will raise up many more church planting interns like Ben Neiser who is serving at FBC Provo while he prepares to plant. Pray for Ben as he serves and reaches out to BYU students through a “Cross Seekers” Bible study on Wednesday nights! Pray for his family as they continue to adjust to life in Provo and seek to develop friendships with neighbors. Pray that God will sustain them and give them the grace to fulfill the ministry for which they have been sent.
Next week, I’m going to reflect on the field partner who orchestrated our trip, how Southeastern students engaged, and how you can explore partnering to reach the greater SLC area and people