|Andy Poland teaching about Mormonism|
Tri-Grace Ministries would like to introduce to our readers, Andy Poland, the Head and General Manager of Concerned Christians of Mesa.
So tell our readers a little about yourself:
I was raised LDS. I was a true blue believing Mormon. The reason why I believed was because I had prayed to know if Joseph Smith was a prophet and believed that God answered my prayer. As a good Mormon should I served a faithful mission in Columbus Ohio and was married in the temple in Mesa AZ. My wife and I started our family right away and today we have five kids. Nine years ago my wife and I left Mormonism and converted to Christianity with the help of Jim and Judy Robertson from Concerned Christians. Three years ago Jim and Judy Robertson asked if I would take over as the new ministry head of Concerned Christians.
Can you briefly describe the moment you decided it was time to leave the LDS Church?
I wish that I could say that it only took one moment to decide to leave the LDS Church. It took me many years of study, research, and soul searching before I came to the realization that Mormonism was not true. The simple seed of truth that caused me to search for God was the realization that not all good feelings come from God. I had experienced a challenge to my Mormon testimony experience by experiencing an identical peaceful good feeling that turned out to be a lie. When I realized that feeling good and peaceful about something can lead you into error, I began searching for a way to test the truth so I could know what manifestations came from God and how to recognize false ones. The Bible provided spiritual tests for truth that gave me additional proof that Mormonism was false and introduced me to the true gospel of Christ.
As a member of the LDS Church, how was the Bible presented? Did you have a chance to study the Bible corporately?
The Bible was always presented as a corrupt work of men. I remember reading from the Book of Mormon about the Bible. The Book of Mormon said that the Bible would be corrupted by an evil church after the deaths of the apostles and many plain and precious truths would be stripped from the Bible. Therefore whenever I studied the Bible in private or in corporate LDS church services, I would always turn to LDS scriptures as a way to understand the Bible. I never relied on the Bible as the only source of truth.
How was it when you first began to study scripture once you were out of Mormonism?
After I had proved to myself that Mormonism was false by studying the true history of Mormonism, my first obstacle to studying the Bible was my belief that the Bible had been corrupted by men. I needed to know if the Bible had been corrupted or if the writings of the prophets and apostles had been preserved in the Bible. The first book that helped me understand the evidence for the Bible was A Ready Defense by Josh McDowell. Josh taught me about the thousands of manuscripts for the Bible and explained in convincing terms why I could trust that the words of the prophets and apostles had been preserved. When I became convinced by the evidence, I began to study the Bible with new eyes. When Paul and the other apostles spoke I began to listen to their words and discovered that God had given me the faith to believe their testimonies.
What impact did leaving have on you and your family, friends, social and business contacts, etc. ?
Jesus’ word saying that “he came not to bring peace but a sword” has been fulfilled in my family. Leaving Mormonism has turned my family and social life upside down. The close relationship I had with my in-laws has vanished and has been replaced by distrust and hatred for me because they blame me for my wife’s decision to leave Mormonism. I think every parent wants the best for their kids. Because my mom and dad believe that the Mormon Church is the only true church, my parents have disappointment in their eyes and sigh each time they think about me and what could have been. My Mormon friends have disassociated themselves from me and my family and my extended family thinks that I have gone crazy. On the other hand, I have four brothers that have left Mormonism as well. Two have left for Christianity, one for agnosticism, and the other for spiritualism. The relationship with my brothers since we have left Mormonism has grown sweeter and is especially sweet with my brothers who know Jesus.
What advice can you provide someone who is considering leaving the LDS Church? What can they expect?
I think that if someone was to ask me if leaving Mormonism for Jesus is worth it; I would tell them, ‘yes, absolutely.’ The hope I have gained from knowing that I have been forgiven and that my place in heaven is assured has given me a new appreciation for life and for the love of God. It is not an easy road to travel because family and friends will disagree and fight against your decision. In the end the only opinion that matters is the one God has about you.
The advice I would give to anyone is to become grounded in the word of God. The wisdom in those pages will help you know how to act and live as Christ lived. The spirit of God will give you the strength to bear with your trials and give you power to act in His name. Also I would recommend that you surround yourself with other believers so that they can help you and so that you can use the gifts God has given you. It is always better to know that you have friends that will be with you in heaven and to help you withstand the tough times.
What steps can a person take to develop a closer relationship with Christ once they have left the LDS Church?
I actually don’t like to define my relationship with closer or farther away from Christ. When I was forgiven, I was given an eternal position with Christ and he lives inside of me always. Therefore I cannot get closer to Him or farther away from Him because of something that I can do. I think that by recognizing that Christ lives in me gives me a stronger desire to serve Him in gratitude for what He has done for me. I often take time to think about what good God would want me to do, so that I can use this gift of life in the way that He would have me. I love the fact that I can love others because I want to, not because I have to. The more that I use my love for others, I gain insight and understanding into what it was like for God to love me. God did not have to save me but choose to save me because He loved me. I do not have to serve others or to love them, but when I do I learn what it is like to truly love freely without expecting to gain anything in return. I want to know what it is truly like to live as Christ lived, so that I can take hold of what Christ has given to me. In short, I live free from the fear of punishment and I love recklessly because God loved me when I did not deserve His love.
How did you come to find Concerned Christians of Mesa?
Actually I was referred to Concerned Christians by Central Christian Church’s church librarian. I came to church library and told the librarian that I had some pretty hard questions about the Bible and Christianity. She immediately made me a library card, gave me a copy of A Ready Defense by Josh McDowell, and gave my name to Jim Robertson at Concerned Christians to call me. The next day Jim called and that is how I came into contact with the ministry at Concerned Christians.
Thank you, Andy Poland, for taking the time to share your story with our readers. May the Lord continue to bless your ministry and that of Concerned Christians of Mesa. It is always important for Christians to understand how to pray for those who are considering walking away from the LDS Church and what these people will face once they do.
Bringing the Gospel to Mormons with Love....