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Micah Wilder Passport to Heaven Part 3

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever
The Truth Network Radio
June 15, 2021 9:37 pm

Micah Wilder Passport to Heaven Part 3

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever

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June 15, 2021 9:37 pm

Micah Wilder was an LDS missionary for 2 years of his life, a time when he discovered the Jesus he never knew. This week Bill and Eric ask Micah about his new book, Passport to Heaven, and find out how God found a young man and brought him to Himself.

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ViewPoint on Mormonism, the program that examines the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from a Biblical perspective. ViewPoint on Mormonism is sponsored by Mormonism Research Ministry. Since 1979, Mormonism Research Ministry has been dedicated to equipping the body of Christ with answers regarding the Christian faith in a manner that expresses gentleness and respect. And now, your host for today's ViewPoint on Mormonism.

You can be with us for this edition of ViewPoint on Mormonism. I'm your host, Bill McCaver, founder and director of Mormonism Research Ministry, and with me today is Eric Johnson, my colleague at MRM. But we're also pleased to have with us a very good friend of ours, Micah Wilder. Micah Wilder is the head of Adams Road Ministries. If you say you've never heard any of their music, you would be incorrect if you listen to this show, because our opening and closing is actually a piano solo by Micah's brother, Matt. Wilder, who does a lot of concerts in churches throughout the country. Micah has an amazing story of what God did with him and through him while he was serving his mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And a lot of that story is in his new book, Passport to Heaven, the true story of a zealous Mormon missionary who discovers the Jesus he never knew.

Micah, welcome back to the show. When we ended yesterday, we were talking about the young men who serve as missionaries. And when you went on your mission at that time, you had to be a minimum of 19 years old. Well, Thomas S. Monson, when he became the president, he lowered that age to 18. And we were talking about how the mission itself, a 24 month mission for a young man who's basically just out of high school.

And really hasn't done a whole lot apart from their school days, are thrown into this situation with a lot of other young men their own age. And for two years, they are going to have to survive, quote unquote, trying to discuss what they believe with people who probably don't know much at all about Mormonism. And that is, how much do you really learn while you're in the Missionary Training Center?

So I was there for nine weeks because I was learning a foreign language. OK, so most of the time you're learning the language, you're not really learning your doctrine as a member of the LDS Church so much. As you mentioned yesterday, it sounded like they do talk about some of the pet proof texts that many missionaries will bring up when they are challenged about what they believe. But outside of that, would you agree that the missionaries that we meet on the streets, the knowledge they have is probably more what they brought with them as a young man or young woman than what they're learning at the Missionary Training Center?

Yeah, I think that's true to some extent, and I think that there is a surface level of a doctrinal understanding that takes place in the MTC. You learn the discussions backwards and forwards, you learn the lessons, I guess, as they're called, that go through the basic, you know, tenets of the Mormon faith. But really, the spiritual aspect of this is left up to the individual missionary, you know, it's left up to that person as what is their dedication. I knew missionaries that were there that didn't really have a testimony, but they had a head knowledge of the doctrines, and so we were really kind of going through this process ourselves of working out our own faith as we were going through this process of being taught it by the church. And then we're just thrust into the world to go, not only have to believe these things, but then to teach them and communicate them to others and bring them into Mormonism. And I think so many missionaries were just not adequately prepared for that, but as we were taught, we were trying to be obedient to our religious authority, and we were doing it because the prophet had asked us to do it.

And we were even told that it's okay if you don't have a testimony, the more that you bear your testimony, the more that that testimony will come to fruition and be strengthened. Oftentimes, when I'm speaking in churches, we talk about being confronted by the missionaries, and sometimes that that can be very intimidating for your average career. Average Christian. So I use the phrase, well, how many 19 year old theologians do you know in our Christian churches? And of course, everybody chuckles because we don't know of too many 19 year old theologians in a Christian context. I said, well, do you think it's any different in a Mormon context? You're not going to find a lot of 19 year old theologians that are going on on their Mormon mission. And so we shouldn't be intimidated.

But I like what you said yesterday. We should have a compassion for them, and even a type, as you alluded to, a pity for them for what they're going through. And I think all the more our hearts should go out to these young men and women that we have an opportunity to talk to because when they come door to door, and I don't know if they're doing a whole lot of that, at least not as much as they used to. That's God sovereignly bringing someone to us that we can minister to.

We don't even have to go out looking for them. And plus with the white shirt and badges, and now they're kind of changing even those clothing styles a little bit, making it a little bit harder to identify them. But you can't get away from the black badge.

Everybody has the black badge. If we are Christians and we have an opportunity to share and you feel from the Holy Spirit to say something, by all means, say it. You never know what your words are going to do with that particular individual, because God's word never returns void. Micah, there was a Mormon genre movie made years ago called God's Army. And so missionaries are out to convert. And I'm just curious, how many conversions did you have during your mission?

Number wise, I don't know an exact number. I would say it was probably around 20 people or so that I personally baptized. I found it interesting in the book when you were called on the phone and you were going through a hurricane. In fact, you went through four different hurricanes and here you are, you're the leader of these other missionaries. You're worried about the safety of them, but you get a call from this president's assistant and he only seemed to care about the baptism numbers.

Was that a unique situation or did you find that attitude to be common? I think based on my mission president and the mission president that we had at that time, he was very centered on numbers. And he was very centered.

He's a very regimented guy. And he and I did not see eye to eye in our approach to missionary work. I was very much a spiritually centered missionary and he was very much kind of a practically centered missionary.

And so we didn't really see eye to eye. But I think that that was the sense for a lot of people. They were doing their job, you know, they were doing their duty and that duty required them to fulfill a certain daily expectation and a certain weekly expectation. And if they did that, then they were obedient to their leaders and ultimately to God himself. And that's just how people saw it.

And so it's kind of sad, you know, because their hearts weren't in the right place. And I think I even went through that for a time as a missionary. I was more worried about kind of the glory from man, right? The glory from the church than I really was about whether I was doing the right thing for the right reason. You mentioned in the book that there is some type of glory given to the zealous missionary and the converts and so forth and so on. And you mentioned how that was troubling to you because it did kind of play into your pride, which is amazing because you do admit throughout the book, your prideful moments, you catch yourself, which I thought was great.

That needed to be said, because I'm sure that's probably true with a lot of young people that are going through this kind of a situation. I've got to say something here, because one thing that I have always felt bad for when it comes to the Mormon missionaries, and that is the door to door cold calls. I've done that before, and I'll be quite honest with my listeners right now, I hate doing that. I don't like going door to door. Normally they think you're probably a Jehovah's Witness since you don't have the black badge or anything, and then you always have to explain yourself.

But I just don't like those kind of cold calls. Well, Micah, let's talk about the reaction of evangelical Christians on your mission. You talk about this on page 65. Let me read a paragraph from your book, Passport to Heaven, and this is what you write. Even though I had met countless people who professed to be disciples of Jesus during my nearly two-year tenure as a missionary, the majority of them were barely distinguished as such by their actions toward us. An all-too-common response when we approached Christians at their homes was, we already know the Lord Jesus, and you guys are in a cult and are going to hell. Now get off our doorstep and don't come back.

We have no interest in the message you are sharing. Their tirade would end with the door slamming inches from our faces. I would often walk away shaking my head in disgust and thinking to myself, if that's what a Christian is, I don't want anything to do with them. Their behavior only further solidified my testimony in the church and drove me deeper into my religious convictions. Now, Micah, tell us that was not the rule, but the exception when you ran into evangelical Christians. You know, I think it was more of the rule. I feel like there were not a lot of Christians that I can recall that didn't engage in a negative way with us.

And again, it could have been my perception at the time that those are the ones I remembered more, and that certainly could be the case. But either way, it's not the way that we're called to engage with non-believers as Christians. And I think that what I take away from that personally is that I don't want to make that same mistake, right? I don't want to do to the Mormon missionaries what Christians did to me. And when I see them, I want to remember what it was like to be a missionary and how challenging it was and how difficult it was to deal with rejection on a daily basis, you know, from everybody. And to remember that they need people who are willing to love them and show them gentleness and respect and ultimately point them to the word of God and the salvation that is in Jesus alone. I am glad that you put that in your book, though, Micah, and this is why. Oftentimes when Eric and I are speaking at churches, we like to make the point you don't want to become a missionary's war story. And by you having that in your book, that fits exactly what we are trying to get across when we are speaking to Christians. When you misbehave, let's say you say something you shouldn't have said, or you do something like slamming the door and things like that, the missionaries remember that. And your conclusion, as you state in the book, is not unusual, nor should I think it should be unusual. It does make you wonder if that's what Christianity is really all about.

Why would I ever want anything to do with that? So I'm glad you put that in the book, because if nothing else, it should convict all of us as Bible-believing Christians who have a message that the missionaries need to hear that we don't need to misbehave when we're presenting that message. So Micah, can you help us as a former missionary? What should a Christian do when a missionary comes to their door? Number one, I would engage them with kindness. I would invite them into my home. I would give them food.

I'd give them water. And I would give them the opportunity to share their belief system, because I think that when we do that, we immediately gain their respect. And when we gain their respect, it gives us the opportunity to then share truth with them. And so one of the mistakes I see a lot of Christians make when they engage with Mormon missionaries is they immediately just try to start teaching them, and they try to start talking over them and correcting them.

And what that's going to do is just going to shut down the conversation immediately. But I think allowing them to begin to share what they believe, ask questions for clarification, right? Because another, I think, mistake that a lot of Christians make is we make presuppositions about what Mormons believe, not recognizing that Mormons can be anywhere on a very wide spectrum of faith. Just because the Mormon church teaches or a prophet taught a certain doctrine, it doesn't mean that's what these individual men and women believe. So I think asking them questions for clarification, and then having a dialogue that ultimately allows us to share our faith and to go to the Word of God and to show that contrast gently and lovingly, and to really get into the heart of each missionary about what they believe, why, and then lead them to the truth.

Very well said. We're talking to Micah Wilder. He's the author of Passport to Heaven, the true story of a zealous Mormon missionary who discovers the Jesus he never knew. And in tomorrow's show, we're going to continue talking to Micah about his missionary experiences. We look at another viewpoint on Mormonism.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-04 01:10:35 / 2023-11-04 01:16:18 / 6

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