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Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Pay Attention to Your Thoughts and Feelings

Pocket Full of Quarters Journey 2015
Pay Attention to Your Thoughts and Feelings


Written In: Salt Lake City Utah
By Cheryle M. Touchton
The Pocket Full of Quarters Lady

Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. Acts 4:12


How could a downtown actually smell good? Were the buildings as shiny and bright as they appeared? I stepped off of the light rail into the spotless downtown of Salt Lake City. Had I been in downtown before? I'd certainly stayed in the campground on Salt Lake and visited many places there but surely I'd remember a city this pristine.

I'd gotten off the light rail at the Temple stop. KOA had suggested I eat it at The Lion House so I headed there first. I enjoyed lunch and as I stepped back outside, 2 modestly dressed impressive young women wearing name tags identifying their church, greeted me and asked, "Would you like to tour Brigham Young's home?"

"Sure," I said. "I assume you are on your mission. How far into your 2 years are you?"

"We're about half way through."

"I'm guessing you are both 19?"

They smiled. "We are. Where are you from?" I gave them the short answer and said Pennsylvania.

"What brings you here?" they asked. Before the afternoon was over, I was to be greeted and asked those exact questions by about a dozen or so pairs of smiling young people, all female. All invited me into a conversation or to visit a garden, worship center, or building that would tell me more about the beliefs of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. There were pairs of men walking around as well but they approached the men or the couples. In between conversations, I sat in the temple garden and watched as these well trained, sweet, and sincere young people used the same process repeatedly.

I talked with everyone who approached me and said yes to what they invited me to visit, tour, listen to and take. They listened when I spoke the Gospel Scriptures and took my literature when offered.

Once, I introduced myself as a Christian and the young people quickly replied as I knew they were trained, "We're Christian too." I also knew they were responding to being considered a cult and not Christian. I didn't argue but didn't introduce myself that way again. A few times, when they seemed to want to know, I did clarify the differences in our definition of God, Jesus, and who they often call Heavenly Father. They were trained to listen without debate and since I don't believe in debate, everything was friendly and informative.

My answer to the question of what brought me there was always the same. I matched their smiles and said, "I'm on a mission too. I'm here to help people find a relationship with the God of the Universe - God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit." Most literally stepped backwards. Their smiles briefly slipped and I knew it was because they didn't believe in what we have nicknamed The Trinity and that the God they consider to be the father of Jesus was different than who they call the God of the universe. I don't usually describe my journey that way and normally, my goal isn't to startle people but for that day, it was what I felt led to say.

When I toured Brigham Young's house, I was invited to pay close attention to my thoughts and feelings as I toured the city, so I did. I was told that Brigham Young was a prophet. The young woman who did my tour didn't know much about the house or the Young family but they carefully described how Brigham Young came to be a follower of the church, what he had accomplished for the church, and what he believed. All of the tours and encounters were the same. They told the story of Brigham Young, the church, their beliefs, and the advantages the church had for the family for all of eternity.

I kept my focus on Jesus and the Gospel scripture, which they knew and usually quoted with me. They politely listened and then took the topic back to the church. Two of the young missionaries listened with interest to the full Gospel and actually wanted to pray with me. When I got to the part of the prayer where they would invite Jesus to be their Savior, I changed the words slightly to, "I invite the one true Jesus - the Truth, the Way, and the Life, to come into my life and be my Lord and Savior." These sweet reverent young ladies actually opened their eyes in surprise, stumbled on the words, and paused.

"Would you rather not pray and ask the one true Jesus to come into your life and be your Lord and Savior?" I quietly asked, wanting to be respectful of their willingness and awareness of what they were praying. They thought about it for a moment, looked at each other hesitantly, and finally, they both said they wanted to pray. The emotion of the prayer took them by surprise. One put her hand to her heart. We hugged, swapped literature, and I left without asking for contact information. The Holy Spirit was going to do with that encounter what He will. I knew I wasn't to do anything more.

I had someone else pray for salvation that same day - a homeless man asking for money. Remembering what my Mama taught me, I pulled out the money so he could see it but gave him the Gospel before I handed it to him. "I used to be Mormon," he said. "I don't know what will happen to me in the next life. I haven't exactly done what I was supposed to." I handed him the dollar and asked if he wanted to pray for forgiveness and ask invite Jesus to be his Savior. He did.

As instructed, I paid attention to my thoughts and feelings as I walked through the temple gardens, took pictures, prayed, and went inside where I was allowed to visit. My feelings bounced between being awe struck and troubled. I certainly noticed the difference between the young people there and other cities I visited. No skate boarders darted in front of me and not only were everyone's pants sitting at their waist, most were belted. I was impressed with how well trained the young people were when explaining their beliefs about the church and how they came to believe personally. I believe in process and they certainly had one.

None hesitated to begin a conversation with me or anyone else. I asked and all of them who approached me had led people into becoming part of their church. I thought about how often I hear the words, "Cheryle, you're gifted. I don't have the gift of evangelism. I could never do what you do and talk to people the way you do." These young people did as they were instructed without worry about what they could or could not do.

I was struck by something else. At first glance, it could appear as if these young people had been trained in an evangelism process that worked well. Actually, the process did work well. As I said before, I like process and use it when I train people to give the Gospel. Those willing to commit to a Gospel Conversation process and then use it without worrying about unique gifting, lead people to Jesus.

However, as I watched, I observed that they were not sharing the Gospel - the Good News of Jesus. The process they were trained to use drew people into a conversation about the church, church beliefs, and the benefits of strong healthy families and abundant living. While if asked, they agreed that Jesus was a prophet and their Savior, the prophet they readily described was Brigham Young, which I understood because of his influence on the city of Salt Lake. Unlike in evangelism, they didn't quote scripture or pray with anyone. They asked and answered questions and offered a way to get more information. I was both impressed and bothered by their absolute faith in the teachings of their church and church prophets.

I left there begging God to help me somehow communicate what I already knew and observed in those young people. It doesn't matter what spiritual gifts or talents people have when they have a process to use. It isn't relevant to consider if we are introverted or extraverted, shy or bold, or talkative or tongue tied when obeying our call to the Great Commission. All anyone has to do to have effective Gospel Conversations is:

1) Find out if someone knows Jesus by asking 2 questions

Two Questions
Do you know where you are going in the next life?
When God asks why He should let you into heaven, what will you say?

2) Speak 3 convicting Gospel scriptures

Gospel Scriptures
For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

The wages of sin is death. The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)

Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. (Romans 10:13)

3) Trust that the harvest is ripe and that the Holy Spirit will use those words to convict hearts

4) Invite people to pray and meet the Truth, the Way, and the Life - Jesus

Sample Prayer
Dear God: I believe that your son Jesus died on a cross for me and rose from the dead. Help me with any part of me that doesn't believe. I confess that I've made mistakes and ask for your forgiveness. I invite Jesus into my life to be my personal Lord and Savior. Thank you for my salvation. In Jesus' name, Amen

Not everyone will be willing to say yes at that moment but regardless of their acceptance, they will be convicted of the Truth - count on it.

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