Earlier this year an LDS reader of Mormon Coffee left this comment about her visit to an evangelical Christian church service:
“The Annie Moses band (they were very talented)…shared their testimonies of Christ…so did the pastor… But what made it all very irreverent and disingenuous was the simple fact that they were all being PAID to say it. I don’t find testimonies to be compelling when it is your occupation to share it. Any worship service where people get paid offends me to the core because it fundamentally questions sincerity. I am moved much more deeply when someone volunteers their testimony of Christ with no strings attached. It makes for a stronger witness.
I have to ask: Do Mormons find the testimonies of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and the First Presidency “irreverent and disingenuous”? President Monson is a paid employee of the LDS Church (as are all the aforementioned men). If the Christian pastor was “paid” to share his testimony of Christ, then, by the same standard, so are all the top leaders of the LDS Church. According to the LDS Bible dictionary,
“The calling of an apostle is to be a special witness of the name of Jesus Christ in all the world…”
Hmmm. It sounds like an LDS apostle’s job — his occupation — is to testify. According to the reasoning quoted above, we must dismiss “The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles” (which was published to the world by the LDS Church eight years ago) because the sincerity of the men testifying must be fundamentally questioned by virtue of the fact that they were “PAID” to say those things.
I don’t believe this, and I hope you don’t either. A laborer is worthy of his hire (Luke 10:7). Anyone testifying of Christ has the potential to be sincere or insincere, correct or incorrect, regardless of the source of his or her income; that is why God calls us to discernment (Ephesians 5:6-17).
Having said that, on a recent Sunday at my church the Minnesota Teen Challenge Choir came to sing and share their testimonies of what Christ has done for them. Teen Challenge is a Christian faith-based residential drug and alcohol addiction treatment program. The people at Teen Challenge see lives change everyday through the transforming power and merciful love of Jesus Christ. About thirty of the 400+ residents came — without pay — to glorify God for His goodness toward them (and their loved-ones) in setting them free from self-loathing and slavery to chemical addiction. Their testimonies were compelling. God reached into their lives and rescued them, giving them hope — a reason to live. Though unpolished and unprofessional in their presentation, these people embodied Jeremiah 20:19:
“If I say, ‘I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name,’ there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot.”
They could not hold it in! Not so long ago, these people were blind and in utter rebellion against God; but now they see. And they don’t merely see — they live.
They came to my church bowed over in abject poverty; yet they were bursting with abundant riches. They were not paid to testify of Christ, yet their reward was very great. In their brokenness they became vessels of mercy; and now they make known the riches of God’s glory.
Here are just two of the many moving testimonies from the Minnesota Teen Challenge web site. After reading them, if your own testimony becomes a burning fire shut up in your bones, let it out! Tell us what Christ has done in you.
“Hi I’m Nathan. It’s been 2 1⁄2 years since I graduated from Teen Challenge, and my life is a walking miracle. I was abusing alcohol since junior high school and I was a full blown alcoholic by the time I was 19. And I went the full gammet of this addiction. The blackouts, the DWIs, the rollovers, the depression, the suicidal thoughts. I’ve been to psych wards, treatment centers and support groups, but my addiction only got worse. The freedom I was searching for only came when I met Jesus Christ and invited Him to take over in my life. And that has made all the difference. He has given me my life back. I now hold a steady job. I’m active in my local church. I’m involved in one on one street ministry. And I’m living out my Christian faith every day. I’m a walking miracle.”
“Hi, I’m Audrey. For my entire life, I’ve felt unloved and hopeless, until I met Jesus. A victim of sexual abuse and rejection, I spent my childhood looking for love and freedom but in all the wrong places. As a result, I had 25 years of drug abuse, police arrests, jail time, and was in two abusive marriages. When my son drowned, I hit rock bottom. Suicidal, I cried out to God to intervene in my life. I went to Teen Challenge where I found Christ as a personal friend. And even though my life seemed worthless, I gave him everything anyway, and he started putting the pieces back together for me. He’s broken the addictions in my life and he has given me a love and a hope I never had before.”
To God be the glory.
For further reading: God’s Ultimate Purpose: Vessels of Mercy Knowing the Riches of His Glory