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The night before her scheduled baptism into the LDS Church, Lillie’s Christian mom and her friend’s mom tried through the night to talk her out of joining. Lillle felt attacked and interrogated but agreed to delay her LDS baptism. Who to trust, the LDS missionaries or her mom? She knew the answers she sought were in the Bible but how to find them? The next day they all attended Lillie’s friend Trevor’s baptism into the LDS Church. She was surprised that the focus there was on Joseph Smith not Jesus; there was no cross in the building! That afternoon, her mother wanted her to watch some videos and the missionaries wanted her to talk with Mormons. In desperation, she turned to God in prayer, “Help me to know You. I want to hear what You want to say to me.” Then her mom found Micah Wilder’s testimony online and Lillie was spellbound by this undeserved love of God he spoke of and by this simple gospel of grace (Romans 5:8 but God shows his love for us that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us). Lillie was broken and knew that Jesus was enough. She did not need to belong to a particular church to be saved.



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The LDS missionaries asked Lillie, “What do you believe about Jesus?” These missionaries seemed so zealous, so passionate, so genuine in their faith, she and another young man in the apartment complex began taking the missionary discussions. A month later, they both committed to be baptized into the LDS Church. Lillie knew nothing about LDS history or Joseph Smith, she hadn’t read the Bible, so, she explains, she didn’t even know what to ask the missionaries. The night before her LDS baptism, her Christian mom surprised her by flying in from Texas. The discussion began at midnight. Lillie was angry at her family. Didn’t they understand she was seeking faith in God by joining the LDS Church?



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Lillie was raised Christian in Texas in a family whose lives were centered around softball. She tried to read the Bible but, after starting in Genesis, she never really got anywhere. Lillie’s Dad, her dearest friend and softball coach, passed away suddenly before Lillie’s freshman year. She was lost--couldn’t see past her heartache--and was angry with God. Could Lillie ease her grief and maybe please her deceased father by leading his softball team to a state championship in his name? After high school, Lillie pursued college at Disney to learn hospitality. She had sweet childhood memories there and felt Disney represented the kindness and joy she so desperately sought to feel in her life. In January of 2021, she moved to Florida looking to find a community where she felt comfortable and loved. Her best friend from high school was already living in Florida—in the same apartment building where the LDS missionaries gave neighborhood barbecues. And Lillie went.



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Now that Alicia knew Jesus as Savior, realizing that He was God and bigger than any religious system—He alone was Prophet, King, Intercessor, and High Priest, she decided not to return to BYU. Instead, she left Utah and accepted a job in Winter Garden, Florida managing a Bed and Breakfast and working in two restaurants on the first floor of the Historic Edgewater (www.historicedgewater.com). Alicia was seeking to know a life with Jesus but without the LDS religion in which she was raised. Christ had become everything to her. She shares a scripture that helped her understand the importance of Jesus above all. Matthew 10: 34-39 "Do not think that I have come to bring peace...I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother...Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of Me...whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." Weeks later, future husband, Micah Wilder, was sent home early from his LDS mission for bearing testimony in front of fellow LDS missionaries that Jesus was all he needed for salvation and his salvation was now secure in Him. According to LDS scripture, salvation comes by "obedience to the laws and ordinances of the [LDS] gospel" (Third Article of Faith), not by faith in Christ alone. Micah and Alicia eloped and had a heart for Christian ministry, Alicia ministering to guests in the Bed & Breakfast and Micah bearing his testimony to Christians and nonbelievers through the Adam's Road Ministry. For Alicia, knowing the God of the Bible had changed everything.



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Alicia Wilder continues her story to faith in the Jesus of the Bible. She describes her “undercover reading of the Bible.” Why undercover? According to LDS scripture, the Bible is not always reliable according to the 8th Article of Faith; but she was fascinated. Staying only in the Bible, she felt alive, excited, as if truth was resonating to her soul—a stark contrast not lost on her in comparison to her past reading of the Book of Mormon where she felt nothing. Reading in the book of John, then Romans, she saw the weight of her sin nature and understood the answer to all sin was to surrender to Jesus so she could be covered by the cloak of Christ’s covering. She began to understand the Old Law fulfilled in Jesus and that believers were now under a New Covenant. She and Micah, on his LDS mission in Florida, shared what they were learning from reading God's Word in weekly emails.



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Something was missing. Alicia said LDS life looked okay on the outside, but inside, she had questions. She noticed hypocrisy from her LDS peers. Their shortcomings did not seem to bother them, but didn’t they matter to God? She began to recognize her own imperfections and felt lost, destitute, and began to struggle. She clung to her friend Micah’s email that said God loves us unconditionally, giving her hope that God might love her. But she sensed her depravity and knew she could not make herself worthy of him on her own. She had been taught her perfection was required to please God and to keep the LDS Holy Ghost with her. One night in desperation, she cried out to God and asked him to take over her life. She could not measure up on her own merit. For 3 wonderful days afterward, she knew God saw her in her destitute state and yet loved her; the peace was palpable. Alicia now believed God had taken her to that place of brokenness and surrender that good might result—that she would know his love. She became open, hungry, and developed a longing to read the Bible. She took her questions to her NT class at BYU and describes herself as the “class lunatic" with so many questions.



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Alicia’s mother’s family, the Becks, were some of the earliest settlers in her hometown of Utah, Alpine. Alpine is in Utah County, Utah, the county with the highest concentration of LDS in the world.



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Michael did begin to read the Bible but he was still attending the LDS Church, paying his (and wife Lynn’s) tithing, and fulfilling his LDS calling as chairperson of the Redeem the Dead Committee. In this position, he prepared LDS members to attend the temple, often took a group with him there, and attended the temple himself perhaps once a week. One question that had always haunted Michael was whether polygamy as taught in D&C 132 really was of God. So, one day alone in the Celestial room of the Timpanogos Temple, where he believed Satan could not enter or deceive him, he asked God whether polygamy was of Him. He describes an unexpected answer. A few days later, he had a second encounter with the Living God of the Bible and knew his time in the LDS Church would soon reach an end.



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After the Wilders’ third son Micah professed to be saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone to his LDS missionary peers—leaving out the required elements of an LDS testimony—he was sent home from his LDS mission 3 weeks early. His father Michael received a phone call from his stake president who told him his son had the spirit of the devil in him. Mike struggled to believe that was true. Before Micah left Utah for good and headed to Florida to manage a hotel, he challenged his father to read the Bible as a child with no preconceived notions. Michael said he would and when he got to the 18th chapter of Luke, something struck him. Was he the Pharisee or the tax collector (publican)?



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Michael declares he was a “happy Mormon.” He goes into some detail about his first temple experience: the washing and anointing, the garment of the holy priesthood, and the endowment. Mike and Lynn worked as restricted ordinance workers in an LDS temple for 10 years. Michael became a high priest in the LDS church at age 36 spending perhaps 20 hours a week or more in church work. He fully believed the LDS Scripture Third Article of Faith that reads, “saved by the [LDS] Laws and Ordinances of the [LDS] Gospel.” He also believed the Eighth Article of Faith which indicates the Bible is not always “translated correctly.”



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No more beer. Profess faith in Joseph Smith as a prophet, the Book of Mormon, and the current LDS prophet as a prophet, seer, and revelator. Are you willing to live the health code, pay a full title, keep the LDS commandments? The road to baptism into the LDS Church required satisfactory answers to the baptismal interview questions. So, Michael believed that after baptism into the LDS Church, he had arrived at salvation. After baptism, he had been declared a member of the LDS Church and commanded by a priesthood member with authority to receive the Holy Ghost. Soon he was given a calling (job) in the church. But, no, the road to eternal life was paved with an eternity of requirements and effort that he calls the “requirements treadmill.” The next hurdle was to prepare himself worthy to enter an LDS temple where he discovered many things may be sacred to the LDS but they were secret to new members before attending the temple. See our book 7 Reasons We Left Mormonism for some of the many laws and ordinances required for eternal life.



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How does someone who has been raised in a traditional Christian home attending a Baptist church join the LDS Church, and why? Michael Wilder is the husband of Lynn Wilder, podcast host. They have been married 48 years, raised 4 children together, and have 7 grandchildren. We are excited to announce that Mike will be joining Lynn as podcast co-host, so here is his 5-part story from the LDS Church to the Jesus of the Bible. Mike tells of his fear growing up of “being hit by a bus” without being baptized and explains how when the LDS missionaries knocked on his door in his 20s, he knew enough about the Bible “to be dangerous.”



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In this final episode with UGP co-host of 4 years, Joel Groat leaves us with his almost 40 years of experience witnessing to individuals who are in performance-based religion, particularly the LDS faith. He encourages Christians not to let knowledge get in the way of developing relationships and continuing conversations with LDS that are motivated by love. For LDS, coming to Jesus can be a long process. Joel explains the two major changes in the LDS Church over his years of witnessing are 1) unlike the past, LDS now boldly declare they are Christians, too, and 2) LDS history and doctrine are more easily accessible to church members than in the past. We are challenged to witness with compassion and concern with what Joel calls a heart of peace and not a heart of war. The Institute for Religious Research website, the organization he directed for many years, continues with decades of good witnessing information.



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In this final episode with UGP co-host of 4 years, Joel Groat leaves us with his almost 40 years of experience witnessing to individuals who are in performance-based religion, particularly the LDS faith. He encourages Christians not to let knowledge get in the way of developing relationships and continuing conversations with LDS that are motivated by love. For LDS, coming to Jesus can be a long process. Joel explains the two major changes in the LDS Church over his years of witnessing are 1) unlike the past, LDS now boldly declare they are Christians, too, and 2) LDS history and doctrine are more easily accessible to church members than in the past. We are challenged to witness with compassion and concern with what Joel calls a heart of peace and not a heart of war. The Institute for Religious Research website, the organization he directed for many years, continues with decades of good witnessing information.

IRR.org



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In this final episode, Daniel shares his growing disenchantment with atheism and its lack of integrity and untrustworthiness with the historical facts. As he studies more and also begins attending some Christian churches, he discovers how Christian beliefs and relationships have been misrepresented by his Mormon religion. Brought face to face with the undeniable evidence for Jesus' resurrection and the incredible love and grace God is offering him in Jesus, Daniel decides to accept Jesus with both his head and his heart. The experience with a grace that saves and heals is unlike any he's ever had. See the show notes for Daniel's top picks for books that provide compelling evidence for the existence of God and the resurrection of Jesus.



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Daniel and Edith have hit a crisis in marriage and faith. Daniel can no longer ignore the evidence Edith has shared with him, and his experience as a lawyer has trained him to follow the evidence to the truth - wherever that leads.  The conclusion is undeniable - Mormonism cannot be true. While Edith knows Jesus is real, Daniel takes a deep dive into agnosticism and atheism, which really scares Edith.  But Daniel can't leave Jesus alone and so he reads widely on both sides, ultimately concluding Jesus was a real person and the Gospels are authentic accounts of his life.  But what will this mean for his faith? It's a roller coaster ride for them both and grace is never far away. 



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Daniel and Edith get married and live the happy Mormon life, complete with work, kids and a temple marriage. But for Edith, there are certain LDS teachings that don't match her reality. She's living the Mormon commandments but not being blessed. Meanwhile, close friends who are not Mormon live out their faith in Christ by loving others, drink coffee and wine, and are experiencing tremendous blessing in their lives. What gives? Daniel, in the meantime, as a Mormon bishop, is trying to ignore his wife's troubling questions. They both research the issues on the LDS church website and soon conclude much of what they were taught their whole life was a lie. Can grace keep their faith in God intact?



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Daniel returns from his LDS mission to find Edith is now a single mother. Disappointed, he leaves her to go to BYU. A while later he returns and asks her to marry him, and she reluctantly agrees. But once engaged, the pain of judgment from the LDS community continues. In part 2, they navigate the pressures and expectations of the Mormon religious system while they look forward to a marriage his parents do not approve of. How and when will grace invade their lives?

 



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Daniel was a bishop and from a multi-generational highly regarded family. Edith, his wife, was a multi-generational Mormon as well, but with a less than stellar past. In this series we hear their stories of how God brought them together, kept them together, and rescued them from the treadmill of performance religion. In part 1, Edith shares candidly and with great vulnerability how devastating it can be to fail within the LDS religious system.



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In these next two episodes Joel and Lynn look at 5 Cs for Interfaith and Intercultural Engagement. When these 5 Cs are motivating and informing your relationships, engaging with others from an intimidating religious background can feel more relaxed and comfortable than you thought possible. It won’t feel forced, or manipulative, or salesy, or scary. Well, maybe a little scary. After all, pursuing anything of value involves risk and putting yourself out there. Just let that flutter in your stomach remind you our confidence rests ultimately in God, his love, and his ability to transform lives from the inside out.  You can help others experience a grace that heals.


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