Preparing for Utah

Introduction

You might ask yourself, “Why Utah?” Utah was not on my radar when God called me to become a pastor. I just knew when He called me, He was calling me to something different than going to seminary and taking a pastorate job post-graduation in a local church. I wrestled with this feeling for a while, and my pastor gave me some wise words when he said, “Keep walking towards the doors, and by the time you reach them, only one will remain open.” Over the last three years, God has revealed He is calling me to Utah to plant a church. I will partner with a current Utah church plant to plant a church in Utah County, specifically Vineyard, in 2024. 

Why?

I believe Jesus was clear in His commands to the disciples in Matthew 28:19-20 and Acts 1:8. There is no ambiguity from Jesus in these instructions. We will be His witnesses and go if we are His followers. I could not run from the call to be the light to these people who have long been deceived by the leaders of the LDS Church and call myself a follower of Christ. The Lord broke my heart for the Latter-day Saint people through a good friend of mine; when I was talking to him, I realized he did not believe in the same Jesus as me. Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson, in their book Mormonism 101, point out that the Latter-day Saint religion defines Jesus as “The literal firstborn son of Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother.” This is not the same Jesus the Bible says is the Messiah, the Logos (Greek for the “Word”), or who is the second person of the Trinity. This realization broke my heart for these people and my friend. There is no hope in the Mormon Gospel because there is no Jesus in the Mormon Gospel.

I am going to Utah because the Lord has broken my heart for these people, and I would be disobedient if I did not go. Alma 11:37 from the Book of Mormon says, “37 And I say unto you again that he cannot save them in their sins; for I cannot deny his word, and he hath said that no unclean thing can inherit the kingdom of heaven; therefore, how can ye be saved, except ye inherit the kingdom of heaven? Therefore, ye cannot be saved in your sins.” The “he” in this verse is Jesus. This is a direct contradiction to the truth written by Paul through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit when he penned Romans 5:8-9 & Romans 10:9-11. It is no wonder a high population of aggressive atheists also live in Utah County. They have been told from an early age if the church is not true, then nothing is. I have been called to be one of the vessels God will use in this dark land to bring hope and light. The leaders of the Latter-day Saint church have taken something pure and twisted the truth to oppress their people. 

Preparation

In this season of preparation, there are many things that I am doing to prepare, but what matters is I am preparing to go. Here are a few things I am doing. I am finishing my first year of seminary and preaching as often as possible to become strong in the pulpit. I will enroll at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in the fall to continue my pursuit of a Master of Divinity.

My family and I will be traveling to Utah in June to examine the area where we will be planting a church and working with the local team in Provo. As I prepare, I know the Lord will be with me (Matt. 28:20) through it all because He has called me to something greater than myself. The journey will be long, and there will be days when it is challenging, but I can rest in the assurance that He is always with me “to the end of the age.” 

John Piper wrote, “Missions exist because worship doesn’t.” I must build my preparation around bringing the Gospel to the streets of Utah County. I must be prepared to equip the saints the Lord blesses me with to do the kingdom work He has laid before us. As I plan and learn before the journey begins, please pray for the favor of the Lord to be upon my family and me as we journey into a land of spiritual darkness. 

The journey is underway. I hope you will accompany me as I journal what God is teaching me through the process and other random things I learn through the church planting voyage. Jesus took a band of misfits and changed His follower’s destinies. Hopefully, along this journey, feet become beautiful, and hearts of stone become flesh. Praise the Lord, for He is worthy!

 1McKeever, Bill, and Eric Johnson. Mormonism 101: Examining the Religion of the Latter-Day Saints. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group, 2015, 49.

2Piper, John. 2010. Let the Nations Be Glad! : The Supremacy of God in Missions. Nottingham, England: Inter-Varsity Press, 3.

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