I'm 16 and have been living in Idaho Falls for about a year now. I'm also an active Evangelical Lutheran, which could be 'difficult' in this community, as you already know. I had almost no understanding of the entity that is the church when I first moved here. Really, the only Mormon acquaintance I had before the move was my friend Judy, who was vehemently apostate (she was recently excommunicated for not attending her own endowment ceremony). She refused to talk about the church. I now wish that she had, so I could be prepared for what I had gotten into.
I attended school at Hillcrest (a school with an estimated LDS attendance of over 90%) and the culture shock was amazing. Having lived on a reservation for 9 years, I could say in my first few months that the school were great. No drugs, no fights, no making out in the halls at lunch time. But after the first months I noticed that something was wrong with my class mates. They all seemed 'fake' in a fashion. Segregated from the real world. They also all seemed to avoid me once they found out I wasn't LDS, becoming distant when talking to me. Being that I'm a little flamboyant in my dress, musical persuasion, and political ideals (AKA a liberal christian punker) it didn't take long for most of the school to ignore me. The feeling of isolation was deep and depressing. I can say one thing for my school, it taught me more about what being a christian was all about better than 11 years of sunday school ever could. It took all my strength to keep from going nuts every time I was asked about my stake, and if I was going to BYU or Ricks. In my lowest point of doubting all I believed in, I can say that I moved closer to christ than ever. I likened it to Toynbee's philosophy: I hardened, not cracked.
In May I decided that the time was ripe to find out who these people were. I picked up a copy of "A tale of two Cities: the Mormons, the Catholics" which introduced me to the confusing and utterly strange theology of the Mormon church. I can say it was an eye opener. I read the entire thing in a day and when I was done I immediately prayed for the souls of the Mormon people. After that I read your great book "Beyond Mormonism" and it was then that I saw how any of it could be believed. I now understood the indoctrination of these people and I prayed for them even harder.
In summary, I want to thank you for your ministry. You have led this lonely teenage christian from the despair of living under the church's gaze to an able bodied minister of Christ's word. Thank you so much. If you know of any support groups or youth organizations in the area, I'd be glad to know about them (I'm already missing my youth group, as it is ended for the summer). Also I ask that you keep me in your prayers, you'll be in mine.
Your (young) Brother in Christ
A very touching and well-written report. Thank you! We need more like you in Mormondom.
You might ask Tony Maupin at Shiloh Christian Center (he succeeded me there) about youth activities. I know they normally have a summer missions outreach, etc.
Keep the faith,
Also, send me your snail address and I will send you a packet of info.