What do I say?

This is a question I am asked often. As a Christian, what do I say to my Mormon friend to help them accept Christ?

That’s such an interesting question. I understand the depth of emotion behind it, really, I do, but it implies there’s a magic bullet.  Abra cadabra {insert magic word here} and voila – a born again appears in place of your formerly Mormon friend. If only it worked like that.

When I think back to what made the difference for me, what changed my heart in the end and helped me see the difference between what I believed and practiced and a true relationship with Jesus? Well, that was all Him.

Absolutely, seeds were planted along the way, some on a consistent basis through one very strong friendship I had with a dear friend who lived across the street from me. But was there a particular conversation, or series of words that were shared that made the difference? I can honestly say no, and yes.

The day Ali and Brian moved into their house across from us I couldn’t have been more true believing Mormon if I had personally met Joseph Smith (the creator of the Mormon religion). I was sanding my cabinets out on my driveway when Ali came over to introduce herself. We instantly bonded over all things HGTV. From there a natural friendship formed.

I was an adult convert to the Mormon church. I had been raised in a Lutheran home and knowing Ali was Christian, I had a basic understanding of what she believed. And I felt for her, for what she was missing by not being Mormon. See, as much as you want your Mormon friend to see the “truth” as you know it, I very much wanted for Alison and her family to know the “truth” as I understood it. I believed that Alison had some foundation but was missing so much more that had been “restored” through Joseph Smith.

As our friendship grew, occasionally our conversations would turn to religion. Ali was so great. She was always careful not to preach to me, but instead she would ask me thought provoking questions such as, “Do you know why people don’t think Mormon’s are Christian?” I will admit, most of the time I would shut her down hard, but some of the questions she asked stuck with me. Sometimes it was just because I didn’t want to have the conversation generally. Sometimes it was because I didn’t have a satisfactory answer, but I wasn’t about to admit that to her.

Over the years the conversations became a little more natural. Alison had more than proved she was a true friend over time; I wasn’t a project for her to convert. Little by little I was starting to have doubts of my own about the tenants of my church. Though I don’t generally chalk that up to my conversations with Ali. The Mormon church is a church of works, and I was plumb exhausted after a decade or more of being an active member. That exhaustion had caused me to feel so far away from being worthy that I finally came to the end of me and began to plead with God to help me sustain my activities and the answer He kept sending me was that maybe I should take a good hard look at the root cause of my problem. Maybe, just maybe there was something bigger that I wasn’t understanding.

When I finally did understand that what I was following simply wasn’t biblically true, my world seemed to implode all at once. As I severed ties with the church, not only was I mourning the 15 years I’d spent following so blindly, but I also lost most of my social connections. Most of our friends at the time were Mormon. I was truly sad, but I knew I had no choice but to move forward. God had made it clear to me that His way was better. And then I realized I had Ali, right there across the street.

I remember the day I walked over to her house to tell her the news, I was leaving the Mormon church. As I uttered the words through my tears, Alison could have jumped up and down with the excitement I’m sure she felt inside. However, her reaction was that of peace and love. She hugged me and then moved her hands to my shoulders and asked if she could pray for me. I’d never been asked that before. I can still feel the emotion I experienced that day when I speak of it now.

It wasn’t a particular thing Alison said to me, or question she asked me. There wasn’t a key phrase or bible verse that “did the trick.” It was our friendship, built over time, in trust, and in love that was the haven I needed when God revealed the truth to me in His timing. Alison was my refuge from the trauma and discombobulation I felt in those early days, weeks, and months after leaving all that I had known behind. She was supportive and never pushed me to move faster through my Christian walk than I was able to do. She let me lead and she was there to love and guide me along the way. I couldn’t have asked for a better friend.

I know reading this you may still be looking for a list of “to do’s” — I’ll go ahead and summarize a few key points below to help clarify some points and give some warnings:

  • Be a good and true friend first and foremost. If you come with an agenda, you won’t stand a chance to even plant a seed of truth.
  • Listen more than you speak. My mom used to say we were born with two ears and one mouth, use accordingly. Listening will help you better know how you can pray for your friend.
  • Don’t take rejection personally. If you extend an invitation to your friend to join you at your church’s women’s retreat, they may very well decline. Mormonism is socially indoctrinating, and Mormon’s generally stick to their own church social functions rather than join others outside of their own.
  • Share your personal experiences; talk about your weekend at that retreat – be real in your friendship! But be open to listening when your friend shares what she studied, learned, or experienced in her church as well.
  • Understand that your friend may invite you to church, to a social function, or to hear more about Mormonism from their missionaries. Mormonism is a proselyting religion, and its members are encouraged to “share the gospel” with everyone they know. I’m not telling you that you should go or not go. Just know that if you decline, you may feel your friend pull away. I could write a whole blog on this phenomenon. What I will say is that the onus will be on you to continue to cultivate a relationship in love. And even when you are sincere, your friend may not recognize what true friendship looks like. You can only be willing, they must be willing, too.
  • Finally, pray. Pray, pray, pray. Pray for your friendship, for your friend, for her family. There’s power in prayer. Pray often.

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