Let me just say, we had a great experience in the Salt Lake City area—the interactions with planters; the opportunity to visit SLC, Provo, Orem, Ogden, and Logan during the week; the opportunity to visit all of the LDS Church sites in Salt Lake City; the dialogues with college students who were also in the Mormon Institutes on three different campuses; the food was great and plentiful; the team functioned well together; and the host of our trip did a fantastic job preparing for our trip and serving us while we were there. So, a big shout out to @traviskerns and @sendsaltlake for making our trip awesome!
Also, let me give a shout out to the students who went on the trip (Russell, Sam, Numera, Ben, Matt, and Daniel). They prayed, prepared, and served well on the trip. They did a fantastic job learning and engaging while we were there. One more shout out to Dr. Jamie Dew (@jamiekdew). Grateful to have the opportunity to work with him on the trip. Here are a couple of excerpts from students that will give some insight on the trip and how they engaged:
The second day we were at Utah Valley State. In my group, we had one very polite male student and a slightly more curious female student. For me, she was the most interesting conversation of the week. She asked a few superficial questions, like one might do if they didn’t know what to ask. But in her innocent line of questions, there were two questions in particular that set up a great conversation. The first question was: What is your favorite Bible verse or verses? When a non-Christian asks this question, it’s like setting a ball up on a tee for Ephesians 2:1-10, just asking to be driven a mile down the fairway. As you read the passage, it’s impossible not to notice how Gospel saturated every single word is, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:4).
Within Mormon teaching, there is no sense of assurance. Mormons do believe they will eternally dwell in one of the Kingdoms of Heaven, but they do not know if it will be the Celestial, Terrestrial, or the Telestial kingdom. Where they go, between those three destinations depends on what they do (and what they don’t do). Staying within the Ephesians 2 theme, I asked, “What does someone do to receive Salvation? If we were ‘dead in our trespasses’ what did we do to earn it?” She mouthed the word “nothing” as I said it aloud. So then I pressed, “If we did not do anything to earn it, then what can we do to lose it?” She again mouthed “nothing” as I said it aloud. I can’t quite describe the look on her face. There was something going on inside her head.
During this conversation, Sam did an excellent job describing the reward of Christianity. Though we do get to go to Heaven, that is ultimately not our reward—our reward is that we “get God.” He said that over and over, each time from a different angle, and more eloquently spoken than the time prior. Each time he spoke the words “You get God!” you could see she was reeled in that much more. She looked as if she could sob at any moment. –Matt Kennedy
I got more equipping on this trip than any other trip or class while in seminary. The only shortfall on this trip, I felt, was that we (or I) should have been praying individually and specifically with the church planters that we encountered and spent time with in SLC. . . The need for evangelical churches is undeniable in this area. For the first time God has shown me what it would look like if my calling is truly to this area. He has given me a new burden as well as new wisdom, discernment and new contacts and friends. Praying for the next step. –Russell Post
Matt’s entry illustrates the kinds of gospel conversations we had on the trip. Russell’s entry points to the great need for laborers in the harvest field of the greater Salt Lake City area and the need for churches to partner with planters there. So, how can you explore partnering to reach the greater SLC area and people?
If you’re a church member or leader, lead your church to pray for @sendsaltlake planters and @traviskerns as he leads the church planting efforts there. Go check out the info on SEND Salt Lake City. Make plans to go on a vision trip to SLC and register on the SLC page. Contact Travis Kerns to find out more about the work and get connected with some of the planters and then adopt one or more of them.
If you’re interested in exploring the possibility of planting in the SLC area or doing student missionary work there, contact Travis or myself. We’d love to be able to connect you with some great opportunities to serve in one of the least reached places of North America. May God raise up laborers to send into His harvest field there!
Mike is an Assistant Professor of Church Planting and Evangelism, the Associate Director for North American Church Planting for the Center for Great Commission Studies, and a National Missionary of the North American Mission Board (D.Miss., Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, M.Div., Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary)