Monday, July 15, 2013

Come Meet Mel!!

Meet Mel!

Hey there! My name is Melinda Anderson, aka Mel, and I am an intern for Tri-Grace Ministries. I was born and raised in Erie, Pennsylvania and moved to Spokane, Washington to attend Moody Bible Institute-Spokane. I graduated in December with my Bachelor of Science in Biblical Studies and I hope to use that major to assist in doing full time ministry! I will be in Ephraim doing this internship at least until December. One thing I was already able to do during my time here was partake in outreach during the Manti Miracle Pageant. 

This was my first year going to the pageant. I absolutely LOVED it! I loved that we had such freedom to talk to lost people about Jesus Christ. Pageant is probably the only time I will be able to see that sort of opportunity to evangelize to LDS; to have conversation after conversation about Christ is rare. I was able to talk to 10-15 LDS about their faith, who Christ really is and the free gift of grace that He lavishes on us!  

During pageant a young man came to know the LORD (see Kim and Shane's story about Pageant for details). I was able to meet and converse with this young man's little sister who is 13. Not only was I able to share with her the Gospel of Christ, but also got her information and we have been keeping in touch over Facebook. Her mother is LDS and not very happy that I am talking with her, but I am so compelled to get to know her more, pour Christ's love on her and possibly mentor her. I am so thankful that I have had this opportunity to be a witness for Christ through TGM! 

A First for me...

By Chip Thompson

had dozens of witnessing opportunities the second week of pageant, but a couple of these dialogues stand out as significant in my mind:

One was with a man and his son - this was another "FIRST" for me - get this, the man was a former Southern Baptist who is now a "fundamentalist Mormon" (fundamentalist means polygamist in

Mormonism). How in the world do you go from Baptist to polygamist Mormonism? This conversation struck me as very sad, but was also encouraging as I was able to challenge him with many truths he had left behind when he turned from Jesus and the true gospel to follow Mormonism.

The other conversation that really stands out was a dialogue that I had with three 14 year old boys from Manti. Our conversation lasted all night long and these youngsters were tough! They had a comeback for every topic. At one point an LDS woman stepped in and asked if I felt bad for picking on 14 year old boys - my response was, "Trust me lady, these three boys can hold their own in any crowd". At first we were getting nowhere but as the night progressed the truths of God's word began to break down their walls and by the end of the night they were all listening and one of the boys was clearly rocked - it was interesting to watch him transform from unbending & deceptive to being soft & honest. Will you please pray for these boys... they live in Manti so the chances are good that we will cross paths again.

Come Meet Grace!

Meet Grace
By Grace Stewart

Hello! My name is Grace Stewart. I am 19 years old, and I am from Crawfordsville, Indiana. I am currently attending Anderson University in Indiana where I am studying Music Business and Song Writing. I have a passion for singing and leading worship, and I feel like God is calling me to a life of ministry through music.

My internship here at Tri-Grace is centered around worship, so I have been leading worship for the training sessions in the mornings, as well as leading worship on the streets for the Manti pageant. It has been an incredible experience leading people in worship to our God, especially on the streets. Manti is such a dark place; it's basically Satan's playground. But having 200 Christians come together and sing praises to God, being surrounded by so much darkness, is one of the most powerful and beautiful things I've ever experienced and was so privileged to be apart of. 

One night on the streets, a few people and I were talking with three boys named Paul, Steven, and Phil on the topic of eternal marriage. During the conversation, it was obvious that the false teachings of eternal marriage was getting under Paul's skin, causing him to become very defensive. But as the conversation continued on, he became very quiet & avoided eye contact with us. As we ended the conversation in prayer, tears swelled in Paul's eyes, obviously effected by our conversation. As the conversation ended, he took the eternal marriage track with him! We don't know if he studied the track or threw it out, but we do know that we planted a seed, which is what we're here to do!!

Life As We Know It!

I am settling into my life in Ephraim and it has been an amazing ride so far.  Since I got here the week before pageant I had to jump right into the swing of things without much time to get settled. As assistant staff at Tri-Grace I was expected to teach part of the training sessions the first week of pageant, and it definitely STRETCHED ME.  I was also supposed to give a devotional during our training time on the Power of Prayer.  This caused me to grow in my understanding of God's word and challenged me to seek after God in prayer during pageant.  In fact, I felt led by God to not seek out conversations this year (like I normally would), but instead pray for the people who were hearing the truth of God's word, maybe for the first time EVER!  

Once pageant started I helped lead worship on the pageant streets with Grace and then I settled into my prayer post.  I prayed at the beginning of every night, "God if you want me to speak with someone please bring them to me."  And then I settled in to encourage believers and pray for whoever needed prayer.  I was amazed that every night God brought someone to me to share the Gospel with.

The one conversation that stood out to me was with a man that has heard the truth MANY, MANY times.  I have known him for a few years now and we have had many talks about the truth of God's word over the years.  Normally as I share truth with people I try to be as gentle as possible, but during this conversation I knew God was calling me to speak difficult truth into this man's life.  We talked about his family and how he doesn't want to hurt them by renouncing the church and I turned to  Matthew "but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven."  During the next 2 hours I  shared Biblical Gospel truth with him, challenged him on his beliefs, and at the end he left shaken but no closer to making a decision for Christ.  

Please pray for this man that he would not be able to forget the truth of God's word and that he would get off the fence and come into a real relationship with Jesus.

Come Meet Fernando!!

Meet Fernando 
by Fernando Gonzalez
Hello my name is Fernando Gonzalez. I am from So-Cal, and my home church is Calvary chapel, Lake Elsinore.  I'm doing a service internship for Tri-grace ministries and I'll be doing my internship for a year long. I have a heart to serve God and his people.

During Manti pageant I had some great conversations, but one conversation that stood out to me was with an atheist named James.  We talked about his past life, he said went to a baptist church because his parents made him go growing up.  During his life he has done drugs and stated that he prayed and he got himself out of trouble during that time. I asked him, who were you praying to? And he said to God... but he made it clear that he had cleaned himself up, without God's help. I told him that God is the one that helped him get clean. After we got done talking I had asked him if I could pray with him and he said no and I shook hands with him and said God bless you and your family.  Please pray for James that God would work in his heart.

Manti Pageant 2013 Outreach

Jordan's Born Again Story...
by Kim Jones

At the first Friday night of pageant outreach, I met Jordan, a tender-hearted 18 year old high school graduate. He told me he had been raised Mormon, but 2 years earlier (age 16) he told his temple Mormon parents he was leaving the LDS Church because he had become an atheist. He explained he had left because he had attempted to complete the LDS repentance process, and he determined, "It's impossible!" When I agreed with him that the LDS gospel is impossible, he asked me what I believe about God. I was able to share ALL about the God of the Bible, such as Him being the Creator, the 
Trinity, love, grace, mercy and the Savior. We talked quite a bit about the biblical Gospel and he inquired at every turn in the conversation. He was very engaged for over an hour and then shockingly looked at his phone realizing the time. His parents had signed him up to run one of the spotlights for the Miracle Pageant hoping it would encourage him to re-join their church, so we parted but... the story doesn't end there!

Saturday night... Jordan and I ran across each other again... God is so GOOD! He told me he had missed a bunch of his spotlight cues the night before because he was thinking so much about our conversation (verified by a number of Christians who stayed that night to watch the pageant!). He asked me, "Kim, why do you put so much trust in the Bible?" This started a 1-1/2 hour conversation about the Bible and it's reliability. Before Jordan left to run the spotlight, I could see by his eye contact and quiet-spirit that his atheistic ideas had been challenged. He paused and said, "I have a lot to think about," and then he let me pray for him. 

Sunday morning... I received a text from Jordan asking if he could come with us to Ephraim Church of the Bible, and of course, my answer was "YES!" I gave him a pocket ESV Bible when I picked him up because he told me he didn't have a Bible anymore. I wish you could have been there to see him soaking up EVERYTHING around him from the worship music to the sermon and prayers. It was as though his dark brown eyes couldn't absorb enough. He joined us for college lunch at Chip & Jamie's after re-acquainting himself with Tai, one of our Christian high school students. Tai showed his love with Jordan by giving him a big, warm Samoan hug, as usual!

Monday.. I received multiple texts from Jordan asking questions about the Bible as he read, like "Were there dinosaurs (Genesis 1 & 2)?" and "Were there REALLY giants (Genesis 6)?" By the end of the night, Jordan had read through chapter 26 of Genesis...

Tuesday night (the next night of pageant outreach)... Jordan had read through Genesis 36 and half of John and was back with questions about creation vs evolution. Since our intern, Mel, grew up atheist and went to Penn State to study biology before becoming a Christian and attending Moody, I invited her into the conversation. Our dialogue about creation spanned about 2 hours, and we ended the night with Jordan stating, "I have asked these questions to bishops, returned missionaries, parents, and teachers, and I have never gotten answers until now."

Wednesday night... I passed by Jordan while another Christian young woman was talking with him, and he waved me over. The young girl exclaimed how "refreshing" it was to meet a newer Christian. I stood confused at what she was saying trying to piece her words in my mind. As she walked away, I told Jordan, "YOU'VE got some EXPLAINING to do!" He proceeded to tell me that he had driven to Provo that day and while travelling he had prayed to be born-again! I could have seriously done a little victory jig right there on the street I was so ecstatic!! I think I hugged him until his eyes almost popped-out! I proceeded to introduce him to Shane, Pastor Rodney and every other Christian I could find, and he was, of course, greeted with big hugs to welcome him into the family of Christ.

Today... Jordan is continuing his reading through the Bible, involved with our college group, and attending Ephraim Church of the Bible every week. Despite opposition from his family, Jordan is thirsting after Jesus and his Word. He was stumped by his parents' negative reaction to his becoming a Christian when they call themselves Christians too. He said, "When I became an atheist, it didn't seem to bother them that much, but now that I'm a Christian, they say I've turned my back on them." Good question, Jordan. Good question. And, of course, he KNOWS the answer just like we do.


Come Meet Brett!!

Meet Brett

by Brett Gray
My name is Brett Gray, and I am a summer intern with Tri-grace ministries for the first time.  I am from Spokane, WA where I am attending Moody Bible Institute hoping to obtain a degree in Biblical Languages.  I hope to some day serve the body of Christ through 
Pastoral ministry.

This summer was the first time ever attending the Manti Pageant.  It was thoroughly a joy to be there witnessing and encouraging fellow brothers and sisters in the Lord.  We started every night singing songs of worship to Jesus the King and praying for the hearts of the Mormon people that they would turn to Christ as their Lord.

I had many conversations with people, but one stood out to me as I talked to young about several topics from polygamy to the priesthood to eternal marriage.  By the end of the conversation, he (John) did not know what to say when we started getting into the LDS view of the priesthood and eternal marriage.  Please be praying that God would turn his heart towards Jesus that he would have a biblical understanding of Christianity.

Manti Pageant 2013 Training

Manti Pageant 2013 Training

Keith Walker

Sharing the truth in LOVE...

Sharing the truth in LOVE...
by Jamie Thompson
My evangelism approach tends to be much more relational. I view the Manti Pageant as a great opportunity to build the relationships we have nurtured throughout our years in Utah. I look for familiar faces of LDS friends and then visit with them on the streets. These conversations are not a one-time opportunity, we have and will continue to have interaction in these people's lives. My goal is to build trust and work towards future opportunities to share truth with these people. Here is one example:

"Stephen" and his wife "Kay" are long time LDS friends. We have had many opportunities over the years to discuss Biblical truth with this couple and many of their children. As a result of this conversation on the pageant streets, they will be coming to our home on Friday to have dinner with us. We were also able to introduce them to Tristan (from CA) who then went to their house and prayed for their son who has a very rare disease. Their son, "Zed" was so touched by this act of kindness that he contacted Tristan by phone to thank him and tell him about an unusual turn of events at his recent doctor's appointment. Evidently the doctor was puzzled by the fact that several blood clots were completely gone with no apparent explanation. Tristan was able to tell "Zed" that they had been praying for him every day and gave God the glory for the good report. Please pray for this LDS family, they have in the past been deeply involved in Mormonism, but are now questioning. We believe God is drawing them to Himself and would not be at all surprised to see them come to Christ in the near future. 

"Real" Ministry?

 "And whatever you do in word or deed, 
do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, 
giving thanks to God the Father through Him."  
Colossians 3:17


Some of you may have asked yourself at one point or another, "I don't know if Shane needs to be coaching wrestling. Maybe it takes too much of his time away from REAL ministry". I have even asked myself this very question.

At pageant, I found the answer to that question. One example is a discussion I had with one of my graduated wrestlers. We started with small-talk and transitioned into his upcoming LDS mission. He perked up with a big smile and shared his excitement. (This year the LDS mission age requirement was reduced to 18, so lots of graduating seniors will be hitting your local neighborhoods!)

"Well," I said, "since you’ll be sharing your faith on your mission, tell me your gospel." He was speechless! "What do you mean?" he responds. I replied, “Nathan, I am a drunk, a murderer, I beat my wife, I cheat on my taxes, I shoot the neighbors’ cats, and I don't have Jesus. How do I get right with him?" 

After a long pause, he tried to put some sentences together and gave up. (This was a question I posed to a number of Mormons at pageant and none of them could give me an explanation either!) I jumped straight in on our boasting visual that brings out the true heart of Joseph Smith: pride. One of the quotes from Joseph says "I have more to boast of than ever any man had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together...Neither Paul, John, Peter nor Jesus ever did such a work as I." Even Nathan was shaken by the statement and said what Joseph claimed wasn’t right.

The visual goes on to explain an even worse sin than pride which the Book of Mormon shares as being polygamy. After sharing what Jesus taught in the gospels about false prophets and their fruits, we looked specifically at Joseph Smith’s fruit in polygamy: 

he married 14 year olds, sisters, mothers and daughters and worse yet, 11 women that had living husbands. 

Nathan had no idea that Joseph had married 34 women! 

Witnessing at the Manti Pageant

Because of the relationship that Nathan and I have, I was able to share these truths and the Gospel that Jesus taught! After an hour and a half, Kim joined us and showed Nathan the parallels between the LDS doctrine of salvation and Satan's gospel of self-exaltation in Isaiah 13. Kim and I both ensured Nathan of our love for him and our desire to build-up his faith in Jesus. We asked him to throw away anything that doesn't align with Jesus’ teachings. I challenged him to FIND JESUS while he was on his mission and study the fruits of Joseph Smith.

Nathan left our conversation pretty "tattered". You could see him swimming around in his mind searching for answers to our questions. Pray the Holy Spirit will keep him awake nights causing him to seek Jesus!

This is only one of half a dozen conversations I had with "my boys". Upon our return from furlough, we have planned a barbeque with another one of my guys and his entire family. They said they would all come to church with us!!!  

I don't know about you, but I’m pretty settled in my mind that this coaching position IS real ministry!