Monday, 25 April 2016


My last day in Bethlehem had only a few stops before I needed to leave. The first was picking up my journal, after a late night and some early morning packing. The second was a visit with a man we've been trying to sit down with for some time already. Normally, we'd leave our number and have them contact us after the second or third failed appointment, but the Spirit prompted otherwise with this man.

As my final visit, we were able to share the nature of God, portions of His plan of salvation, and the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We were able to see, and not only in this visit, the sincerity he had. This was a man receptive to the Spirit of God. I pray that the Lord continues to prepare the path before him, so that he may receive all that the Father has in store for him (and his family, or should I say family-to-be).

With some last minute goodbyes, I was picked up and taken to meet my new companion, Elder Shinga, in Newcastle. As co-zone leaders, we have been assigned to the Newcastle zone which consists of three districts and nine companionships, as well as two sets of couple missionaries (the Hinds and the Taylors). That same night we had cake and ice-cream in celebration of Elder Harper's birthday (he's a missionary in the zone). We called it a night and departed to our boardings (mine still a two-man boarding).

The next morning, Elder Shinga and I headed toward our area, which is called Osizweni. The area now has four missionaries and a new chapel. The members are excited. It will also be my first Zulu area, so I have to learn how to pick up on the language very quickly (this brain has become far too accustomed with Afrikaans and Sotho).

In the area, our first lesson was met with contention. It grieved my spirit. The man we were speaking with pulled out a chain of verses proving that Zion is the Lord's kingdom, so The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints must be Babylon - a branch of the harlot of all churches (I won't mention which church he named there). So convinced he was that asking God, through prayer, wasn't even an option; adamant that the Bible is the only truth, and only answer, because everyone knows where it comes from. Other sources, apparently, cannot be true because nobody knows where they come from.

What kind of an argument is that?!

I took a breath, and said a prayer in my heart. Bear your testimony. I remember, all too clearly, the last time something like this happened - in Hillcrest. So I bore my testimony, no longer deluded that it cannot be rejected, but not expecting what followed.

"You're lying! I say that because the devil is a liar - he was a liar from the beginning. God is truth, and God speaks through the Bible. You cannot go deep and tell me who Jesus Christ is - everything you said I already knew - so you must be a liar!"

The last time I felt like never sharing my testimony again, but the Spirit immediately chastised. I felt like leaving people like this alone in the dark, but I needed humility. So, even though it hurt, I pray. For His sake, I do everything I can, and as I do I feel a love inside me grow which desires to do more. My feelings are still the same, that building a relationship with God is most important, that asking Him for answers is the best and only sure way of knowing truth, and that quoting a verse from the Bible is simply not good enough!

Our Father has asked us to speak to Him, our Saviour has shown us the same. Debate settles nothing, because "a man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still." But for the sake of Biblical appeal, and for those who have misunderstood, I've sought out evidence (not to say that it'll be good enough for everyone).

What is Zion?
There is a hill near Jerusalem called Mt Zion. When David was appointed king of Israel, he went to Jerusalem and took what is called the castle of Zion, even the city of David (2 Samuel 5:7 & 1 Chronicles 11:5). The Lord proclaimed that He set His chosen king, David, upon His holy hill Zion (Psalm 2:6), which He loves (Psalm 87:2), and where He dwells (Psalm 76:2). More than being a physical Location at Jerusalem (Isaiash 30:19), the city of the Lord (Isaiah 60:14), and a place we're invited to go (Isaiah 35:10), it is an invitation to trust in the Lord and be protected by Him so that we, who are not physically in Zion, may be as Zion (Psalm 125:1). It is evident that Zion is much less a place, and much more the people, chosen and set apart by the Lord (Psalm 132:13).

In the last days, the house of the Lord will be established on the top of the mountains - Zion will be spread abroad and her law will go forth (Isaiah 2:2-3).

Does this mean that the Church's name will be Zion? In Matthews 16:18, the Saviour declared to establish His Church. Christ is the head of the Church (Ephesians 5:23). Even Paul referred to the churches in the new testament as the "Churches of Christ" (Romans 16:16).

What about the saints? If Zion is the city, the kingdom, of God then according to Daniel 7:18 the saints shall take possession of it forever and ever. Is it a surprise that His Church would be called The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?

What I find interesting is that the Lord will appear in His glory when He shall come to build up Zion (Psalm 103:16). Granted, this refers to His second coming, but where else has the Lord appeared to establish His kingdom?

Israel is the nation, Zion is the city, the saints are the people, the church is the body, and Christ is the head.

The day did get better, however. We met a lady who said, "I hope what you're saying is true, because I'm going to ask God tonight; and if He says it isn't true I'm going to tell everyone you're a liar. But if He says it is true I'll tell everyone to listen to you because I'll know it's true."

My heart swelled with joy. Not only because I knew the answer she'd get, but because she was willing to ask God and act in accordance with, regardless of the answer. This is the kind of faith our Father requires. This is the purpose of missionary work - to help others turn to Him for their own answers.

The week continued with baptismal interviews in three different areas - of which I was priveledged to be a part of. Who knew the time would come when scheduling baptismal interviews was a challenge? That's right... ten interviews in two days. The Lord's work is moving forward.

And now, to share one of my most precious gifts, because there have been heartfelt experiences that far outweigh those mentioned above. I know that God is real... that Jesus Christ is His Son - who lives... and that They love us. I know that prayers are answered - mine have been. The Book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ. And The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord's kingdom once again established on the earth.

I may not be the most intellectual, or the most convincing, but these things I know. Christ will come again, to reign forever and ever. I pray that we may be ready.

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