the Stone and the Oak

A journey into bible education with the stronghold of the of the oak the accountability of the stone

This is Jade.

Her drink is an iced maple cinnamon latte.

I have a special backstory with Jade because she took care of my youngest baby when I resumed part-time work at the college. I remember holding him on my hip as I listened to Jade talk with anticipation about her new role as a missionary-barista in the middle of Mormon country in Ephraim, Utah.

It’s been about three years since I saw Jade last, and she spent two of those years in her mission in Ephraim.

Last week, we sat in the shade of the mature pine and cottonwood trees and chatted about her upcoming wedding before she dove into her heart’s passion: speaking truth and love to members of the Mormon population.

Jade’s interest in the Mormon/LDS population

“When I was in high school, I had a Mormon best friend. Curious about her religion, I read the book Escape by Carolyn Jessup in which she details her disentanglement from the Mormon faith. Startled by what I read, I asked my friend if her parents were polygamists. She was furious at me. Reeling in confusion, I dove back into educating myself about Mormonism.

I learned about the different sects of Mormonism (rather, LDS, as they prefer to be called now), and though I adored my LDS friends, I discovered startling contrasts to my own faith system. Thus, my desire to witness to the LDS population began to sprout.

After a few semesters of college, I discovered Tri-Grace Ministries and their non-profit Christian coffee shop, Solid Rock Cafe, in the heart of rural, central Utah.

The coffee shop and ministry were founded almost three decades ago by Chip and Jamie Thompson who discovered that Ephraim was a region virtually untouched by Christianity.

They bought the property, and opened their doors to the non-coffee-drinking LDS population— a venture that could only be bolstered by faith.

The ministry’s foundational verse is

‘Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love’

Ephesians 4.15-16, ESV

So I moved into the flat above the coffee shop and joined Tri-Grace ministries in their mission to speak the truth in love.”

Loving those who need the loving truth

“Solid Rock Cafe sits across from the predominantly LDS two-year state college, and so the clientele is college students, but not the incredibly pious LDS— they won’t find themselves in a Christian coffee shop.

The customers we see typically fall into three categories: those of non-LDS religions, those without a faith base, or on occasion, LDS who are struggling with questions.

The coffee shop has barstools at the counter where the baristas work, and individuals who are open to having a conversation will typically sit there.

Because a core tenant of our mission is to offer love, I see my role as a relational evangelist. I build relationships—genuine relationships—with whomever comes to the counter.

Building relationships looks different with each person. For instance, the college has a prominent LGBTQ+ club, and so first and foremost, I let them know that I am a safe person.

I then remind them that God loves them unconditionally. It’s an expected message from an evangelist yet one worth emphasizing.

Then, if we engage in a deeper conversation, I encourage that person to set the issues of sexuality and gender to the side in order seek identity in Him—not in sexual orientation.

Lds— an unlikely population for conversion

“A central principle of the LDS religion is “family forever,” which means that every single aspect of an LDS member’s life is entangled with that particular belief system. Meaning, if a person of LDS faith decides to convert to Christianity, it comes at high earthly costs. It means being essentially excommunicated from the church and parting from their family. If said person is married, his/her spouse is pressured to file for divorce.

The costs of leaving the LDS community are high, but Jesus is worth these high costs.

The costs of leaving the LDS community are high, but Jesus is worth these high costs.

So though I plant seeds of truth that God may bring to fruition, it takes, on average, 7-12 years for an LDS individual to fully leave the religion. So, I have to be comfortable with my role of the seed planter, and I pray to the Lord that I get to see some of the fruit when I get to heaven.”

The issue of the Bible

“One of the main points of disagreement between the LDS church and Christians is the validity of the Bible. The LDS church maintains that The Great Apostasy came over the world upon the death of the last apostle, and that the written biblical documents were altered and Jesus’ truths were removed.

If entering into a dialogue about this with someone of LDS faith, I would point out that the last apostle, John, died somewhere between 90-100AD. This means that 20-30 years prior, the biblical manuscripts were already taken away from Rome during the Jewish Diaspora.

The manuscripts would have been spread into many different lands and translated into five different languages at the point of John’s death.

Because the LDS church does not claim a supernatural cause for the alteration of the Bible, members accept that that wicked individuals found every copy of every translation and removed the same truths from each—an impossibility.

It is these kinds of discussions that make up another major tenant of our mission: to prove that the Bible is trustworthy.”

Archaeological evidence of the Bible

“The Solid Rock Cafe has a museum-style display area where Chip and Jamie have included artifacts from Israel.

Chip jokingly refers to himself as an amateur archaeologist, and he and Jamie hold tours of Israel where they walk the grounds that Jesus and the disciples walked and look at the locations of important events.

It’s their mission to have non-believers attend the tour to be able to show them earthly evidence of what is contained in the Bible. But also they love bringing Christian leaders on the trip to further equip them to teach about what they learn there.

It’s awesome to have artifacts and places to lend validity to the Bible. The LDS church does not have these things to substantiate the Book of Mormon, and it is our hope that LDS members start to believe in the credibility and trustworthiness of the Bible.”

Another opportunity for evangelism: The manti pageant

“Ephraim is close to Manti, Utah, the site of the an LDS pilgrimage and celebration called the Manti Pageant that took place for 52 years. LDS members came in thousands to watch dramatizations from the Book of Mormon. The Pageant has recently been discontinued— which I would like to credit to the slews of Christian evangelists also in attendance.

As you might imagine, evangelism can take on many forms, but we from Tri-Grace Ministries set up a bible museum in the food court with our artifacts and to continue our mission of proving the Bible as trustworthy.

“We love the LDS population and we want its members to discover a relationship with our loving God.

We want God’s love to be evident in how we speak and how we treat people.

If evangelism occurs in a non-loving way, why would the recipient want to listen?”

If evangelism occurs in a non-loving way, why would the recipient want to listen?

What’s next for jade

Jade’s wedding will take place in October to her fiancé, Mark. She gave me a sneak peek of the dress, and I gasped at its beauty.

More beautiful, though, is hearing of Jade’s plans to continue in evangelism to LDS members with her new husband. Though they both would love to live in Utah at some point, they have discovered the need for LDS-focused evangelicals right here in the Central Valley.

With God aching at the hate and divide in our country right now, undoubtedly he is pleased to see Jade developing genuine, loving relationships with those who don’t know Him.

And love is a language we all speak.

25 thoughts on “Sips & Scripts: Planting Seeds of Truth in Mormon Soil

  1. Emily Ryan says:

    What a wonderful ministry. Much needed!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Emily, I agree. The LDS population is much less likely to convert and know the love of our Jesus. Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I am so proud of Jade & Mark as they prepare for the next chapter of their lives. Their collective heart for the LDS people is truly a gift from God. I am excited to see how God uses them for The Kingdom.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello there! I have not yet met Mark, but Jade is amazing. We need more youth with conviction like her. I am excited to see their work for the Lord as well!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. He asked Jesus into his heart at 3 years old and has been reaching out to the lost ever since.

        The are a GREAT couple.

        It was my pleasure to share this post & to encourage others to check out your blog.

        Like

  3. Hilary says:

    What a testimony! This should encourage anyone to just keep planting the seeds in their day to day life.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely! I love that Jade has truly equipped herself for these conversations with the historical and biblical knowledge she needs to make her case for Christ so well!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Sally says:

    Excellent and encouraging post.
    It reminds us too of the importance of having patience, since the seeds we sow are sometimes slow to sprout.

    Thanks. 🌷🤗

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree Sally, we have to remember that it’s not our job to save people. We are just supposed to plant the seeds, maybe add some water or fertilizer & let the Holy Spirit do the rest. There is so much joy in doing our part.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Sally, thank you so much for this thoughtful comment! So true that God brings the seeds to bloom in His time.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. This is amazing!! God bless you Jade! May He strengthen you for the work ahead.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Isn’t she amazing?! I love seeing a person’s spiritual gifts put into action for His Kingdom.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Absolutely!! A big thank You to God for blessings us with these gifts and empowering us to spread His love!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Perth Girl says:

    I am touched and inspired by Jade’s love for God and the mission that God has placed in her heart. May the Lord continue to strengthen and enable you to make His name known.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I feel the same! Jade is such an inspiration to me!

      Liked by 2 people

  7. I thought you should know that I shared this post on my blog & have gotten some great responses. I look forward to more of your work.

    Barb

    Mylifeinourfathersworld.wordpress.com

    Like

    1. Barb, this is so wonderful! Truly, thank you! I’ve subscribed to your blog 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think there is much we can learn from each other.

        Like

  8. Wow. This is beautiful.
    God bless her loving heart and that of her fiance too. 🙏

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Indeed! They are so special!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes they are. 🙂❤

        Like

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