Few opportunities within the Continental United States give Christians the opportunity to share their faith like a trip to Utah. Settled by Mormon pioneers in the mid-19th Century, the state’s politics, economy, and culture are dominated by the LDS Church. According to the Pew Forum Survey, Utah is the most religious homogeneous state in the union.
Each year, the LDS church presents the Mormon Miracle Pageant in Manti, Utah. Located about two hours south of Salt Lake City, the small town of Manti (pop. 3,000) witnesses as many as 14,000 people per night attend the performance over the two weeks of the pageant. The purpose of the pageant is to provide a dramatic portrayal of the history of the Mormons as seen from their perspective. Performed at night in the shadow of the Mormon Temple in Manti, the pre-pageant hours prove to be an ideal time to engage men and women, boys and girls in conversations about their faith. Many LDS are eager to visit about their faith and curious about these so-called Christians. For some, this will be the first exposure they have had to a Christian.
There are several reasons why FFC targeted the Mormon Miracle Pageant as a mission field:
- The existence of a strong Christian church in nearby Ephraim, UT. Tri-Grace Ministries and Ephraim Bible Church were started by Chip and Jamie Thompson almost 20 years ago. Chip and Jaimie are Ankeny natives, and serve as valued contacts and partners in the region. Their ministry is well-respected even within the dominant LDS population.
- The affordability and affinity factors. Many believe Americans must travel half-way around the world at the cost of several thousand dollars to engage an unreached people group with the gospel. Utah provides a unique opportunity to do so within the Continental United States. There are no language or culture barriers, so FFC missionaries can engage Mormons in their native language. Moreover, the per-person cost for a Gospel Outreach trip to Utah ranges between $500-$1,000, depending on the lodging accommodations selected.
- The opportunity to participate in real evangelism. Due to the language and culture barriers, many foreign short-term mission trips prove to be little more than service trips or tract distribution campaigns. Witnessing on the streets of Manti gives participants the opportunity to engage non-Christians in real dialog, with an open exchange of ideas.
- The ability to bring people of all ages and abilities. Each year, FFC sees a wide range of men and women participate in the annual GO Team trips to Utah. The oldest participants are in their 70s, while the youngest are in their mid-teens. This proves to be a great blend and mix as the generations get to know each other and learn from each other.
It is the church’s desire to see an increasing number experience a GO Team trip at least once. FFC puts a significant designated amount of funding each year towards GO Team missionships that keep the cost of these trips low and affordable. At no point should lack of funds be the single reason a person cannot participate in the GO Team trip to Utah.
For those interested in possibly joining us as a part of next year’s GO Team trip to Manti, Utah, here are the next steps: