I Was a Mormon: Andrew Hopgood
I have been saved by the grace of my Lord Jesus Christ and delivered by Him alone and freed from the captivity of Mormonism.
One of the few scriptures that I can quote in part is Psalm 142:
“I cried unto the LORD with my voice; with my voice unto the LORD did I make my supplication. I poured out my complaint before him; I shewed before him my trouble. When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then thou knewest my path. In the way wherein I walked have they privily laid a snare for me. I looked on my right hand, and beheld, but there was no man that would know me: refuge failed me; no man cared for my soul. I cried unto thee, O LORD: I said, Thou art my refuge and my portion in the land of the living. Attend unto my cry; for I am brought very low: deliver me from my persecutors; for they are stronger than I. Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise thy name: the righteous shall compass me about; for thou shalt deal bountifully with me.”
I discovered this scripture while suffering from the consequences of being caught in the Mormon religion and being weighed down, and crying out to God, in whom my heart had complete trust. The Lord decided to lift me out by His loving grace from the mess my sinful, deceived, and vulnerable heart had got snagged in. He was patiently unfolding His love to me and Psalm 142 was Jesus' merciful reply as I opened up His written Word. For me, this has become my own personal Psalm, the living water and healing balm which filled my heart, encompassed my pain and sorrow, and swallowed it up. His Word regenerated the hope I had in Jesus Christ, and I began walking with Him while I was being extremely beaten up by the Mormon beast.
I was a foolish young man of 25 years and a babe of Jesus Christ before I was tricked by familiar spirits and Satan’s devices into joining the Mormon Church. Throughout my life I had struggled with a serious brain impairment, which affected my ability to develop and cope with everyday life. The impairment has never been apparent to anybody viewing me from the outside. From this developed other serious mental illness problems as a consequence, not barring my own sins.
Nonetheless, by all this I came to know the wisdom, mercy, compassion, patience, gentleness, kindness, and constant unwavering love of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I learned through the trials of frustration over the consequences of my own foolishness, only to have my conscience seared. So from many of these experiences, I learned that only He understood me intimately, that He was the only one I could turn to and rely on, that by His grace in my life I learned it applies to us all, that He alone by His grace saved me, and that I am His forever.
I had no knowledge of the world's views on religion. I was switched off to all religion, and before this time I had never encountered the Mormons except coming across two missionaries on their bikes as a child. I knew hardly any scriptures. I was simply ignorant of these things before I joined the Mormon Church. I can imagine now Satan rubbing his hands and licking his lips as he saw me approaching the doors of Mormonism.
It's too long to explain how I was introduced to the missionaries, but I'll just say I approached them in 1995 after having been given a Book of Mormon by a man I met. He had been a grievance councilor, who had counseled me. I became his friend and he gave me the missionaries’ address, which was a few doors away from mine. I had read the book, barring Moroni and the promise in 10:4 (to read and sincerely pray about it and God would manifest the truth of it), before I eventually caught the missionaries home and accepted their invitation to have their discussions. I would like to stress that when I asked about the nature of God while having the first or second out of six discussions, I had a confirmation shown to me mainly by using the Holy Bible. These two young men where pure at heart, and I understood at the time that they believed in the God of the Bible. From all my experience of knowing many missionaries, this was a rare occurrence, but what hooked me in was my ignorance of the apostasy and the restoration of the "one true church." Eventually I accepted the invitation to be baptized a member. Note: I had never prayed about the Book of Mormon, and in all my years I had never experienced "the burning in the bosom." I wondered what people where talking about, and I just dismissed this from my mind like many obvious clues to something not being right. I had to figure this out in my own time with the help of the Lord's grace and understanding of my needs.
I was a poor soul and poorly dressed when I joined the local ward, and immediately started to experience the vexation from the pride and dirty looks I got from many of the members. I was mainly treated like I was something that had been dragged in off the street, and I was often shunned and left standing in a world that I didn’t understand what was going on. I was often left to get on with it. I was treated awfully. There were exceptions that showed genuine love and comfort, from members to leaders, but in bits and pieces and from time to time. Nonetheless, my whole body was sick and with all the conflicts I had absorbed, and this would aggravate my mental illness. Viewed from their lofty opinion, it was because of my unworthiness and lack of faith… I brought this upon myself.
My activity and progression in the Church was short. I strayed away several months later and was labeled "less active." All this experience crushed me, and at the time I thought I had blown my salvation. I couldn’t understand what was going on in the so-called "one true church." I would over the years make an effort to return to the ward after recovering from the treatment. I returned to smoking, drinking coffee, and even self-medicating. All this opened my eyes further to the pride of the general body. As the periods of inactivity increased, I became more of a focus for the body to point at, speculate, and meddle in my vulnerable life. There where many sacrament talks indirectly given to me all in the name of the Holy Spirit. I felt sat on and mentally unable to call out and express myself.
This is what drew me closer and closer to the Lord. I fell in love with studying the King James Version of the written Word, and by this Jesus fed me. After fifteen years of membership, He carried me out and showed me that He had already saved me by His grace. He had been gently and patiently teaching me, undoing all the briars and lies that where growing around me choking His Spirit. He knew how long it would take me to get it.
Out of the fifteen years of membership, I was probably only in attendance for about a year. I had received the so-called priesthoods, but I never progressed to the temple ordinances. I was too unworthy for that. I truly had my naive heart set on it, and I believed it was a sacred and holy place.
In hindsight, I had developed a close relationship with the Lord, especially from the times when I didn't deserve it or even pray for His help. But He came and lifted me up, revealing His amazing grace. What truly amazes me is how the Lord’s Spirit taught me it was by grace alone. I knew it, but it wasn't until I had left the Mormon Church that it was confirmed by the written word when I listened to a brother teaching the doctrine. I had overlooked it after fifteen years of scripture study, but learning it sealed what I had been taught by grace.
During my latter years of membership, I was not attending meetings and was keeping a distance from the proud meddlers who had hurt me. Every Monday, though, I would meet with an old lady who was also a member of my ward. She had a similar mental disposition as I, and we would study the word together. I ordered her an old LDS Church book online as a gift, and then I discovered that Brigham Young taught the Adam is God doctrine and that Mary had a physical and intimate experience to conceive the Son of God. I was disgusted, and felt so violated from the deception. Why had I never heard of this and how on earth did I not see the other rubbish starring me in the face? I had been taught the biblical account of Mary’s conception when joining. I cannot adequately express these emotions and my own shame and disgust with myself for allowing myself to be deceived like this. I can only take full responsibility for following my own fleshy, vain heart. This was the start of all the crusty scabs of lies which had formed on my eyes crumbling off before my pure testimony of the love and grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. Instantly He swallowed all my pain and shame up, and I rejoiced, feeling so free and relieved that this abominable burden had been taken away!
I am so grateful that the whole Mormon experience didn't separate me from His love! I can now see that this would have been impossible, because He had already given me a portion of His beautiful, pure Holy Spirit of love even before I joined the LDS Church. I believe this whole experience was all in His wisdom and for His wise purpose.
By searching the internet I discovered many wonderful brothers and sisters who were and who had experienced similar things as I. Sadly, I first looked on Ex-Mormon blogs. These were filled with people who had been extremely hurt by Mormonism, but had lost heart and had turned from the true and living God. I could understand why, and my heart felt for them. Some of the former Mormon members’ comments disgusted me. These sites upset me and led me forward to find www.utlm.org. I studied all of brother and sister Tanners’ experiences and wonderful insights, and collected all their gems. This led me to Heart of the Matter (brother Shawn McCraney's TV show), and all the other unsung ministries and online Christian testimonies of individuals from various cults and religious systems, from all over the globe. This was a godsend! By these means--studying the written Word and trusting in Jesus alone--I was helped to find myself approved in the Word. I realized that He upholds me even when I do not hold Him. All this contributed to me being able to settle down and recover in Christ. Today He is patiently teaching and guiding me still. I continue to discover many wonderful brothers and sisters that teach me more about Jesus. I cannot express the importance of them all doing what they do. I place my prayers with theirs for the Word to go forth to all, and for those caught in the Mormon monster to see the truth and to be saved by Jesus Christ alone. They all continue to be an inspiration to me as I aspire to serve as they, and hopefully I will also win some souls for Him.
The greatest burden lifted for me was that I don't have to work in vain to earn my salvation. It was like running on the treadmill chasing a carrot, which is just out of reach. Only He laid His life down for all. I am equal to my brothers and sisters in Jesus, and the only difference we have to unsaved sinners is that we are sinners saved simply because of our belief in Him and the power of His cross.
The hardest thing I experienced after Mormonism was the apparent divisions in the Christian body. This was most disheartening. I pray for those vulnerable by these things, and would encourage them to just trust in Jesus and patiently wait on Him to teach and reassure. Find yourself approved in the Word, and view all in love. The answers are in there in Christ. It is simply all in His hands, so please do not fear or be disheartened by these things. Beware of some who are hidden and stir us up against one another, whether deliberately or unknowingly influenced, appealing to the fears we might still carry and the lack of any understanding that we have yet to obtain. They rally us for the wrong battle, but never take part in the fight themselves. They hide behind the veil of secrecy and stir up contention, catching us off guard and causing us to fight each other. Remember that Satan is the prince of this world, and the world currently is his kingdom with his agents planted among us.
I would like to express in my weakness from the understanding the Lord has given me and encourage others to be honest about individual Mormons. Isn't it the truth that sets us free? From my experience and from being a convert, there are thousands of different experiences from different individual viewpoints, and mine is just a small part amongst them. I have myself been edified by some lines in the Book of Mormon, and met many wonderful charitable members. One of the standard works of the Mormon Church is the King James Version of the Bible. The only pollution to that is the framing of the chapter headings and some of the cross references. Many members hold it dear, and it is often used to teach and it does and will edify, even in the complete wicked framework that it is within. It doesn't and cannot deny itself, since it is the written Word. Sadly, though, it is cloaked in the Mormon Church and the other Mormon scriptures. This is like a bucket of dirt with many tiny fragments of pure gold sprinkled in it. Many truths are taught in the Mormon Church.
I remember a teaching from one of the general authorities in the church that Satan can use 99% truth to deceive people and lead them down to hell. How ironic, but true nevertheless. Satan has watched it all from the start; he knows the Word and how to get people to teach it partially to deceive.
Remember, no two persons or backgrounds are alike, and how do any of us truly know the hearts and lives of each and every member of the Mormon Church and their own personal standing with our Lord Jesus Christ? How do any of us know if some are the Lord’s children trapped and blinkered by its cunning subtle devices, but saved nevertheless? Perhaps they just haven’t come to realize this at this time. To not say the truth or to disguise the truth is a lie and dangerous to the most weak and vulnerable of souls. I do not advocate the Mormon framework and order. It is an abomination and most definitely it should be contended against, but to say that all Mormons are not "Christians" (by this I mean saved by grace, but blinded and ignorant of what Mormonism is really teaching) only reinforces Satan’s hold rather than the other way around. It’s better to say that while Mormonism is anti-Christ, God is impartial to whom He loves and has died to save, and that there is a possibility some Mormons are saved, but know it not. They are caught in its devices, and if a soul has been truly born of Christ’s Spirit, then they will be experiencing severe scolding by their transgression as I once was to my own shame (see 1 Timothy 4:1-2). God is a just God, the Lord is merciful, and His love is boundless, so to dismiss the possibility that some may be saved is dangerous and hurtful to those few who may be caught in it as I was.
In my own experience, to be beaten up by another brother’s ignorance is the worst thing that could have happened to me at that fragile, vulnerable time. This attitude sets a bad example for the weakest of us to follow, so I pray what I am struggling to convey may be received in love and that only love may increase in us. In my experience, I have needed my brothers and sisters so much to enable me to recover, and without those of you doing what you do in the Lord, I would most definitely be dead and would have given in. So I thank and salute you, however great or small. You’re always in my heart and prayers, but ultimately all praise, honor, and glory be to God.
I believe that the Lord will get any of His sheep out of the Mormon Church and indeed from all cults by His grace. Ezekiel 34:11-13 says, “For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness. I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land.”
I am praying that sharing this witness will some how empower my brothers and sisters in the Lord to be stronger in His service and to better enable each of us to reach in and touch those who will choose to listen and follow our Lord into His safe pasture. I testify that the Mormon Church is under condemnation and the wrath of a just God, and this is my prayer and contribution to all the love and warnings which have been given so far… please, GET OUT NOW!!! You are being used and abused as a commodity, and your prophet is a false one, leading the unsaved down to hell. It is a wicked trap where good has become evil and evil has become good! Question all, and trust only in the Lord and His strength. For God is a jealous God. I can only point souls to Him and His Holy written Word, and share that which He has given me, in His Holy name.
I share this testimony in good conscience, honesty, love, not disregarding my weakness of my flesh. I pray it will somehow or in someway be of benefit to those who may be looking for the truth.
Brother Andrew Michael Hopgood