Published November 4, 2004
Pastor Joe Bufford and 15 of his members from Sargent Baptist Church went to Cedar City, Beaver and St. George, Utah to do mission work in April. In August Troy Underwood and his family, church planters in St. George, returned the favor by ministering in Georgia Baptist Churches.
Such an exchange is the essence of a real mission partnership.
Georgia Baptists have had a partnership with the Utah/Idaho Baptist Convention since 1999. Many churches in Georgia have gone into these two states - known for their mountain grandeur and wide-open spaces - to offer their Christian service. However, Underwood, believing that a partnership works both ways, made the trip to Georgia with his wife, Lisa, and three children, Amanda, 14; Troy, 10; and Anna, 8, to minister in the state known for its peaches and kudzu.
Underwood was born in Portland, Ore. and raised in Vancover, Wash. "Our family went to church occasionally, read the Bible often, but lacked a genuine commitment to Christ," He admits.
"I knew there was more to Christianity than the passiveness I had seen demonstrated at home. For a period of time I went to the Kingdom Hall with my grandmother, who was a Jehovah's Witness. It was there that I saw people who seemed to be ardent Bible students and were dedicated to what they believed."
Underwood acknowledged, "At age 14 I wanted to become a Jehovah's Witness, but my parents prevented me from doing so, not because they disagreed with their theology, but because of the distance to the Kingdom Hall from our house."
Reflecting upon those days Underwood remarked, "I never forgot about the zeal and dedication that the Witnesses had. I desired to have that same kind of commitment to God that they appeared to have. It will always bother me that cults will often do for a lie what Christians will not do for the truth."
At age 18 Underwood prayed to receive Christ at a youth night service in Vancover, Wash. "It was the most memorable night of my life!" He adds, "God had radically changed me from the inside out, and my life has never been the same since."
The Portland native had an insatiable desire to know the Word of God and subsequently began to teach discipleship courses and apologetics seminars. Through an amazing set of circumstances and in the providence of God, the Underwoods moved to the heavily Mormon-dominated city of St. George, Utah in 2000.
Since Underwood's conversion he has devoted himself to live a disciplined life physically, mentally and spiritually. He is a weightlifter, an avid student with two academic degrees (and working on a third), and constantly seeking to develop an intimacy with Christ. He has written and published five books, including an expose of the Mormon Church entitled, Living Among the Saints.
Fighting dangerous doctrine
Underwood contends that the most dangerous doctrine of the Mormon Church is "the works-based salvation doctrine." With confidence in the blood atonement, the Utah church planter adds, "Mormons don't see themselves as big sinners, thus they don't need a big Savior. They feel that man is basically good and that he can get to one of the degrees of their heavens by trying to live a good life. This Bible is absolutely against such an idea as stated in Galatians 2:16 and Ephesians 2:8-9."
Although Underwood faithfully goes "door to door" in an attempt to reach the unredeemed in St. George, the response has been minimal. He lamented, "Mormons don't seem to care that they have been lied to. Their thinking is one of 'Well, I'm a 5th generation Mormon and I'm not changing even if I am wrong!'"
Ministering in Georgia
Not all Latter Day Saints are living in Utah, however. Many are living in Georgia. In fact, Georgia has more than 62,000 Mormons, according to 2002 statistical information. Underwood's counsel is for all of us "to research this very dangerous cult and reach out to the LDS people in love."
Underwood is available to train and equip Christians for works of service and unmask the falsehoods and fallacies of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. His email address is: Exodus20Law@aol.com.
Although the official Georgia/Utah-Idaho partnership ends at the end of 2005, many Georgia Baptist churches have developed relationships with churches in our western counterpart convention that will surely continue.
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