I was a convert to the LDS (Mormon) Church at the age of twenty-one. My former husband, a return missionary for this church, baptized me on the same day we became engaged. We married a few months later and were "sealed" in the Salt Lake City Temple for "time and all eternity" a year after that. For the next sixteen years, I was a loyal and faithful member of the LDS Church.
On November 7, 1982, I had been separated from my husband a number of months. I had turned to my Bible as a source of comfort and wisdom as I was seeking ways to deal with the break-up of my marriage. Along the way, my heart and mind began to be transformed as I began to see many things in new light. I told no one I was reading the Bible. I didn't want to be influenced by anyone in any church or religion until I felt like I had a more firm foundation regarding my own personal beliefs about God and His Word.
As I read and studied and prayed for direction and answers, several other factors which I will not go into today led me to decide I needed to attend a Bible believing church where the Word of God as found only in the Bible was preached. I contacted a Christian couple I knew of, the Goldrings, and asked them if they could direct me to a church where I could study the Bible more completely. They sent me Valley View Baptist Church in North Ogden.
Over past few years, I had watched the pastor personally build Valley View from the ground up. He had lived in an old house located on the same plot of ground where he was building the church. Weekly Sunday services were held in this house as he worked on a new building for the growing congregation. Some Saturdays, or week nights, I would see members of this church with hammers, saws, and ladders working on the construction of this building. I admired their hard-work, determination, fellowship, and faithfulness from afar.
On that day when I finally walked through the doors of the now completed church building which housed Valley View Baptist, I had actually gotten up and dressed in my children and myself in our Sunday best and headed to the LDS Church located just up the street from our home. Then, after fighting a mental battle in my head which kept saying, "You know you just can't continue to go to a church in which you no longer believe. Why are you doing so?" In reality, I could no longer remain status quo. I knew that my decision to attend another church, even for one Sunday, which is really all I intended to do, would impact my children. As I recall, only the younger three children were with me on that day.
As I drove the car along the familiar path towards the church I attended each week, I finally made my decision. Instead of turning right, or to the north, at the corner by our house, I kept driving east and headed the mile or so down the road to the Baptist Church. I entered the sanctuary a tad bit late. The services had already begun. I was grateful I would not have to meet anyone. With the Bible my father had recently sent me clutched tightly in my hand, I slipped into the back row of the church as the congregants began to sing some of the old hymns I had missed for so many years.
On that Sunday, Pastor BJ Hall preached on Luke 18: 8- 30. I turned to the passage and began to read as he preached. Was this sermon meant just for me? I read and listened to the story about the rich young ruler who asked Jesus, "Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus immediately pointed out to the rich young ruler that "none is good, save one, that is, God." Then Jesus reminded this man that he knew the commandments and spoke to him seven of ten commandments. The man said, "All these I have kept from my youth." Jesus replied with the words that he lacked one thing: selling all and following Him.
I knew this story, but on that day it had new meaning to me. Had I been resting on being good? Had I actually believed that my "goodness" would somehow grant me eternal life? Did I believe that by doing all that was prescribed for me to do by a religion I had joined I would be granted points with God? Did I believe that if God asked me what I had done so that He might grant me access to Him after my death I could say, "Well, I've been good. I haven't broken those seven commandments." I was convicted about how shallow my arguments would be before a Holy God after I had just read that Jesus had already said there were none good save God.
An internal battle was being waged. I knew the truth. I knew I had chosen to follow Jesus when I was twelve years old. Along the way, I had been sidetracked when I chose to trust in practicing religion instead of trusting and following Christ alone. I had been hanging on to or trying to practice self righteousness. I did not want to admit how far I had gotten away from trusting in grace through faith alone. I knew it would be difficult to publicly affirm my true beliefs. I knew my life would be forever changed when I did such a thing.
Luke 18: 29-30 convicted me all the more. "Verily, I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God's sake, who shall not receive in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting."
At the end of the sermon, Pastor Hall issued an altar call for those to come forward who wished to receive the Lord. My internal battle intensified. I could not remain in that back row of the church any longer. I moved towards the aisle and began to make my way towards the front where the pastor was standing. With my body shaking, but with head and heart firm in conviction, I told him I was already a follower of Christ. I wished to publicly declare that I was rededicating my life to Jesus and renouncing my affiliation with the LDS Church.
Sunday, November 7, 1982, was my personal Reformation Sunday. I returned to my true beliefs that Sunday, and in many ways followed the pathway of the Protestant Reformers before me. The "five solas" were again embraced by me:
- Sola Scriptura - Scripture Alone
- Sola Gratia - Grace Alone
- Sola Fide - Faith Alone
- Solus Christus - Christ Alone
- Soli Deo Gloria - To God Alone Be Glory
On that day, as the service was ending, after the congregation had sung their signature hymn, the one I will always associate with Valley View Baptist Church, "Victory in Jesus," Pastor Hall prayed for me and asked the congregation to pray for me. He said, that as soon as I left the church that day, that the "great guns of hell" would be aimed at me and that I would need much prayer and support.