So, I love atheists. I just do. Weird way to start but hey, where else would I begin? Let me tell you why. Because they have the guts to actually pick the other side of the argument. There's this tendency for people to claim they're on the same side of this whole "religion" thing as you and it drives me crazy. "We all worship the same God, so it doesn't matter what church we belong to!" Oh, how that grinds my gears. By claiming that, they're claiming that TRUTH doesn't exist. And if that doesn't exist, there isn't a God. (See my farewell talk). I read it again this week and it reminded me not to take that as an answer. I love when we stop to talk to people and they act as if "I'm Catholic, or Buddhist or Baptist, etc." should be a sufficient reason for me to get back on my bike and ride off into the sunset.
Let's be clear again. My testimony is either true for you AND me or for neither of us. The Book of Mormon is either the word of God or a fraud by a very clever, but very evil man.
This is often how it goes with those we talk to:
"You're Catholic, Buddhist or Baptist. Ok, so why are you [insert name of any religion here]? Can I tell you why I'm Mormon? Because I asked God if this book was true and He told me it is. If God told you the same thing through His spirit, would you be baptized?
........................"If God told you to do something, you wouldn't do it?"
"Because I'm [insert name of religion here]."
Somehow, something isn't computing.
Or there are those who say "yes". We teach those people.
Or there are the ones who say "No one will ever know about religious truths until we die."
To which I say : "No, I KNOW NOW AND YOU CAN, TOO."
And so I'm left loving atheists. Because they'll look at you and tell you that you are straight up wrong. THIS I can deal with. And indeed I do. So let's discuss our atheist miracle from this week. His name is "B", and he is living proof that you never know who will be interested. Our first exchange went something like this (he was smoking with his less-active friend -- #face palm).
"You ever talked with missionaries before?"
"Nope, I'm an atheist."
"I LOVE ATHEISTS! What makes you an atheist?"
"I don't see evidence that there's a God. I need evidence."
"Well have you ever read the scriptures?"
"Well, let's fix that. This is the Book of Mormon. It's your evidence that there's a God. *Cue Restoration*.
So we go back a few days later. And he starts talking and we had had him read Alma 22. And he prayed. and he's like.... "I can't deny I felt something."
"So...... is there someone up there listening to you?"
"I believe there is."
Ok, so let's be real for a second. "B" went from being an atheist to having a baptismal date in a span of 20 minutes. I think it was top 5 most shocking moments of my mission. My jaw was dropped for a solid 2 hours after that. He came to church the next day, the first time he had stepped in a church in... recent memory. So that was pretty cool.
But we have time for a couple more miracles, because that was just what happened Saturday.
"A". The man has the gift of believing on other's words. He was praying with his wife that their marriage would be closer. Then we knocked on his door with gospel answers and ordinances.
And then there is the "P" family. They're the kind of family you pray to find. A perfect part-member family who is so prepared to hear God's word.
Oh, the miracles.
What else? We started teaching a Pentecostal preacher. You gotta be on your A-game for that one for sure. It's quite fun. But hard not to Bible bash. It's ok though, we turned them over to the Spanish-speaking Elders.
I'm just kind of giving you a highlight reel for the week.
Uhhhhh teaching kids and families is the best. Especially the kids. It makes me remember the guiding force that the gospel is in my own family and how much that changed my life.
"What's their commitment?"
"Become an eternal family by entering in at the gate through baptism."
So much goes on. So many people we talk to, invitations we extend, miles we ride, laughs we have, prayers we say.
Prayers we say. Purity in prayer. Let's all strive for that this week.
We had "J" -age 8- say his first prayer with us last night. He didn't have notions of what a prayer was supposed to be. He didn't have habits. He just spoke to God. And he said, "I like the stars. So thank you for them. I love my family. And friends. And...these people. Thank you for all of them. Amen."
He made me decide to thank God for the stars, too. And maybe a few other things I take for granted.
I love you all.
Have a great week. Facilitate a few miracles. And do it with a smile.