Hello from the Fellows!
Earlier this semester, the entirety of Class 16 flew up to Utah for an off-campus, experiential learning module. After spending a week in class, on-campus, preparing for our trip by studying the differences between historic Christianity and the beliefs of the Church of Christ and the Latter-Day Saints, we took what we’d been studying across the country. We partnered with Brett Kunkle’s apologetics organization, MAVEN. We split up the class into 4 groups, each having one of the Maven staff members as guides for our week. We had a journal we received from Brett Kunkle the week before, that we continued to fill out as the trip continued on.
The night we flew in we had an instructional lecture about what we can expect from the members of the LDS Church, with whom we will be sharing the Gospel. We heard from Rob Sivulka, the president of Courageous Christians United, and His wife Tara, who was born into the LDS Church but had converted to Christianity before her relationship with Rob.
The first full day of our Utah trip was spent visiting historical and religious locations for the LDS Church. We visited Temple Square first, touring the Tabernacle and the Assembly Hall with two sister missionaries as our tour guides.
We finished our tours at noon and began traveling to our next destination, “This is The Place ” Heritage Park. Yes, that is the name, and it was in fact “The Place.” This location is where the first settlers crossed the Rocky Mountains and decided to construct their homes in Salt Lake Valley. Upon arrival, We ate lunch at a picnic area and toured the memorials at the park, and watched a brief documentary about the history of the settlers.
After the tour, we talked with members of the LDS Church. The point of these discussions was to try and understand the differences in the beliefs that members of the LDS Church and we, as Christians, have on the nature of God, salvation, life after death, and much more.
To conclude the first day our entire class and the Impact staff went to an In-n’-Out for dinner. The majority of my classmates had never been to or had In n’ Out so it was a fun experience all around!
The second day in Utah was a long one, we started off with breakfast and making bagged lunches, then drove almost 2 hours to Ephraim, Utah, a city that has very little Christian presence, to visit a church that was started by the founders of Solid Rock Café, a coffee shop that was just outside of Snow College’s campus.
At this location, we learned about the founding of the business, and why they decided to start a coffee shop of all things. For context, one of the doctrines of the LDS Church requires its members to abstain from alcoholic and hot beverages, such as coffee or tea. The point of the cafés is so that they could see who would come in, as they would be less devoted members of the LDS Church and to share the Gospel with them.
After listening to the history of the café, it was time for us to evangelize. The weather that day wasn’t too good, so our group was split in half. One half was going to be on campus, approaching students in between classes or hanging out on the sidewalks, and the other group, including me, would go door-to-door.
Now I knew we were going to go door-to-door this week, I just didn’t expect it this early, so I was terrified. Luckily though, the classmate I was partnered with, Danelle, helped alleviate my worries and we had three great conversations with two people who were members, and one who was a member but had left the church. After our time was up, everyone met back up at the Solid Rock Café so that we could depart in our travel groups and go see a waterfall and had some freshly grilled burgers for dinner.
After a good night’s sleep, it was time for our day at Brigham Young University. As we were deciding on our groups, Micah Kunkle, Brett Kunkle’s son, asked if he could join my group as we went door-to-door. I was very excited to have someone who was way more experienced than me to evangelize with. This doesn’t mean he did all the talking though, I introduced us to the doors we knocked on and had plenty of my own questions to ask. Over the almost 3 hour period for us to go door-to-door, we got into two conversations that lasted over an hour each. My first conversation was with a young couple who was attending BYU and who had been devout members of the LDS Church their entire lives. We may not have converted them immediately but I believe we gave them some pretty heavy stuff to keep considering.
Overall, this trip to Utah has helped me to understand how fun sharing the Gospel can be, as well as helping to bring Class 16 even closer together.
by Ethan Thibodeau