Keeping the Door Open

After parents discover that their son converted to Mormonism, they continue to reach out with the true message of God’s grace.

Julie K. Wietzke

David and Jane open the door and invite in two clean-cut, earnest young men for an evening meal and some religious discussion. When the men depart a few hours later, they leave behind a few brochures but keep with them some lingering questions and thoughts about what grace really is.

David and Jane are part of the “Please Open the Door” initiative of Truth in Love Ministry, in which Christians welcome Mormon missionaries into their homes for the opportunity to create a relationship and share God’s Word with them. A year ago they probably wouldn’t have been involved in the program, but now it holds special meaning to them. Why? Because a year ago, their youngest son told them he was becoming a Mormon.

Jane was driving to work when she got the call. “He was upset,” says Jane. “It took 10 minutes for him to tell me.”

Jane says she drove to her friend’s house and literally went into shock. “The worst thing in my life had just happened,” she says.

After their son’s phone call about wanting to get baptized into the Mormon church, David and Jane flew out to see him. “We had some time alone with him at first, and we talked to him. It got really emotional,” says David. “But he wanted to get the missionaries in there with us.”

Jane says that their son talked a lot about repentance. “He felt there were a lot of things he’d done in the past that he shouldn’t have done,” she says. “He said their religion made sense, and it helped him to change.”

Unfortunately the Mormon definition of repentance is not the Christian definition. It stresses a permanent resolve never to repeat the sin and righteous living that includes full obedience of the law and commands of the church. And while doing good and working hard may help Mormons feel like they are making strides at the beginning, it often leads to feelings of stress and worthlessness when they realize that they can’t be perfect.

Jane and David returned home, but they continued to keep in touch with son. And they started researching Mormonism, learning as much as they could about the religion so they could better witness to their son.

“We have ‘Mormon days,’ we call them,” says Jane. “We just study all day long. By the end of the day, you’re just really sad.” David adds, “Then we need a non-Mormon day.”

In the process, they discovered the importance of understanding the terminology used by Mormons. “That’s what makes it hard in the beginning . . . you can be saying the same words and meaning completely opposite things,” says David. They say Mormons also often say they believe the same things Christians do.

He continues, “It’s very difficult if you get into a religious discussion that it doesn’t turn into an argument. It’s almost impossible because the gaps are so wide.”

They both know, however, that they have the Lord on their side. “You have to do your best and pray that the Lord puts the words in your mouth and tells you the right time to say them and that he’s going to cover up your mistakes-I pray that a lot,” says Jane.

But it hasn’t been easy. They have asked all the questions: Why our son? Why us? What did we do wrong as parents? Why weren’t we more diligent? “You have your Mormon day when all you do is think about how horrible this is, how broken, and how awful,” says Jane.

To give them hope, Jane says they have been memorizing Bible passages. “In the end, it’s trusting in the Lord and his goodness and mercy,” she says.

They also pray-and encourage others to do the same.

And they reach out more widely with God’s message of free grace. “Rather than sit at home and be depressed and think, Woe is me, how can I take that brokenness, that negative energy, and help 20- to 30-year-olds become more involved in their church?” says Jane. “How can we reach the youth with that wonderful message?”

They started by meeting with their church to discuss ways to engage young people. They also are encouraging parents to nurture their own faith and work with their children. “It’s funny because your faith isn’t really what it should be when you’re raising kids. You get distracted,” says David. “But as parents, if you’re growing in your own faith you’ll be better able to deal with and answer the hard questions that people ask and that you know your kids will run into.”

Jane and David also are involved in witnessing to Mormons in general. Last summer, Jane and one of their other sons went on the yearly mission trip sponsored by Truth in Love Ministry to Utah to help with door-to-door outreach to Mormons. Jane and David also began inviting Mormon missionaries to their home.

David says this wasn’t an easy decision. “We’re angry with these people for stealing our son. I’m trying to focus on how I can reach my son,” he says. “But actually, talking to the missionaries is a good way to get a better understanding not only what the Mormon church teaches but also what the Mormon people think about things.”

Besides helping them better understand Mormonism, inviting Mormon missionaries to their home is helping them grow in their faith. “With all the research we’re doing into the Mormon faith it really makes you understand your faith better because you’re asking questions, you’re probing,” says Jane.

And it lets them plant a seed. “We fervently pray for these young men as we do for our son,” says Jane and David. “We ask that the Lord would work in their hearts and help them to see how much different and precious are the truths of the Bible.”

The “Please Open the Door” initiative is important to Jane and David for another reason. Right now their son is considering doing a mission trip of his own.

“It’s hard to think that he’s going to go out and preach something other than Christ. It’s heartbreaking,” says Jane. “We are not going to bring our son out of Mormonism. God is in control. But something that we say or something that his brother says or even something that someone who we don’t know says may begin to spark something. If our son goes out on a mission, maybe something will happen. Maybe it will be one of our people who will open the door to him.”

Julie Wietzke is managing editor of Forward in Christ.

Truth in Love Ministry (TILM) offers support groups to parents whose children converted to Mormonism. David and Jane also are willing to offer support and guidance. Contact TILM at 855-770-3700 or tilm@tilm.org

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Author: Julie K. Wietzke
Volume 102, Number 3
Issue: March 2015

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