Karina Lehner, Junior Cross-Cultural Service major
Sometimes I wonder how God could possibly use me and why He would choose to.
I am so weak. I am not an eloquent speaker. I do not have a large ministry…
How could I be used by Him?
This summer I was reminded that God can use faithful followers who are willing to embrace the ministry He has given them, however big or small it is. He uses the words and actions of imperfect people who have the desire to share His Gospel.
I was reminded of these truths this summer as I stepped into another culture – a culture within the United States that I have never experienced before. The people in this culture live in a small community, dress alike, are often wary of outsiders, and are part of a cult.
It is a community of Mormons belonging to The Fundamental Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (the FLDS). These fundamental Mormons are both isolationists and polygamists. They are devoted to a man named Warren Jeffs, whom they believe to be their prophet and whom they unquestioningly obey.
Colorado City, Arizona is one of the places this group has chosen to settle and is where I had the opportunity to go to this summer with a number of teens and adults from my home church. This town of 4,800 people consists of FLDS Mormons, many people who have left the FLDS church or have been kicked out, and a handful of Christians who are living there to reach these two groups. The couple that our team went to help, Brody and Liz, are some of these people. They were the first Christian couple to move into this community in Colorado City.
During the ten days we were there, God provided so many ministry opportunities.
One was to help people practically. Our team did many manual labor projects for locals, especially people who are no longer in the FLDS. Our goal in this was to demonstrate Christ’s love and also to show that the believers in Colorado City truly care about the people in the community. Things like this help Brody and Liz build relationships with people and continue to break down walls for more effective ministry in the future.
On Sundays we were a part of the Bible study held in Brody and Liz’s home. This small gathering of brothers and sisters is the church in Colorado City. And it’s a beautiful thing. It was a good reminder that the body of Christ is so much bigger than the local church back home. You who are reading this right now – you have brothers and sisters in Colorado City. I’ve met them. And one day you will too.
Our main outreach was through events for kids that we held at a local park. The evening consisted of free corndogs, water games, and a Bible lesson. The pastor on our team challenged us to have the goal of constantly looking for ways to start conversations with people and lead the conversation towards spiritual things. This is something I want to do all the time, not just on a mission trip. I need to be actively pursuing people with the desire to share truth with them. These few hours in the park provided some of the best times on the trip to share the Gospel with people.
One of these conversations was one of the heaviest I’ve ever had. The girl was 16 years old, her family left the FLDS a number of years ago, and because she has been lied to by the FLDS church her whole life she doesn’t know what to believe. In our conversation I could see that she has been searching for answers and trying to find meaning in things that don’t satisfy. She admitted to me that there was an emptiness inside of her that wasn’t being filled by anything she was desperately trying to shove there.
And she knows. She knows it can only be filled by God but she is running from one more thing that she believes will let her down. My heart ached so much after that conversation.
Amazingly, I was also able to have a brief interaction with a girl about my age in the FLDS. A few years ago, she never would have talked to me, someone not in the FLDS.
This girl who has grown up in a cult is a real person. She is someone with a name, and a sense of humor, and a soul. She is someone who, at this moment, is in her polygamist home with her 30 siblings waiting for the day when she can get married and bear children. Then the life she feels is empty can finally have purpose. This is what she has been taught.
Another conversation…and once again my heart ached.
When we talk about a people group or a country or a cult, we need to remember that they are individuals – real people who desperately need Christ. I think when we talk about reaching people with the Gospel we can, without realizing it, picture a number and not lives. Like talking about the FLDS and not thinking about their stories.
Though there were many times of heaviness, throughout the whole trip my heart was also filled with so much joy.
God is working. He is working in Colorado City, and He is working through the humble ministries of people like Brody and Liz who are simply living passionately for God and for the advance of the Gospel in the location God has led them to.
Real life, everyday ministry is not supposed to be glamorous, and it doesn’t always have the results we hope for. But God calls us to be faithful – embracing where He has placed us and actively pursuing the people He has placed around us.
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The CGO Blog
Written by the CGO staff, with guest posts from students and other faculty/staff at BJU to provide thought leadership for missions in a new millennium.