Evelyn Hall's Conversion Story
I was born into an inactive LDS family. Part of the time we attended an Evangelical United Brethren church, but when I was 15 "Ma" insisted that my brother and I be baptized into the Mormon Church...just in case it was the only true church!"
I later married Bill, a Lutheran Church (Missouri Synod) guy, and I then was confirmed a member of that faith. But since I still had my name on the Mormon rolls I had faithful home teachers who came to see me every month. When we moved to Nevada, about 1958, they found us there and continued to come. At one point Bill expressed his desire to know more, so the Mormons went into action. We were "friendshipped" into a lot of activities and members' homes. The missionary discussions were done in March 1961 and then Bill was baptized. But shortly after that our new "friends" stopped friendshipping us. We wondered if we'd done something to offend them but we found out later that that is the way things are done. We were left alone to work out and earn our own salvation and we would then join the ranks of friendshippers when the opportunity came along. That was hard on Bill because for the first time he had friends. Now they were only friends within the walls of the Church.
Bill became baptized without the "burning in the bosom" testimony that I had and he tried for many years to get it to feel as if he belonged, I believe. But it never came even after trying for many years. I heard him tell the church leaders after I had resigned that he never believed in the Joseph Smith fairy tale and that the main reason he joined was because it was a good church with good people and nice friends and that it was a nice family-oriented church and he felt comfortable with it.
As soon as we joined the Church they gave us both callings as the genealogy specialists. We held that calling for about 32 years! We researched, wrote and published 12 family histories between us and did the temple work for all who were in the books. We were "Saviors on Mt. Zion" they told us.
As the years went by Bill got disgusted with the Church. He would accept callings and then no one would take the time to teach him the procedures or offer to assist him. Once he was publicly "volunteered" to teach a class without any advance warning. Some of the tactics reeked of Big Brother and I started putting the pieces of a long-standing puzzle together.
One piece came via a Jehovah's Witness neighbor who shared with me a bit of research she had been doing about the Book of Mormon. How could characters, written in 600 B.C. be quoting from Bible sources that weren't written until 600 years later? Why did the book use Old Testament terms that Joseph Smith couldn't possibly have known about? Why were GREEK words in the text such as Jesus (Jeshua) and the anointed (Christ). Why was the French word, ADIEU in there -- from a language that didn't exist until 700 AD? Why were over 100 quotations from the NEW testament appearing in a text written long before its time? This and other information were "puzzle pieces."
But I was reminded (by Satan?) of my burning bosom testimony as the real "proof of the pudding" and that experience came back to me with full force! So I became more active in the Church, bearing my testimony often and going on numerous temple trips.
Another piece fell into place in 1989 - a wonderful manifestation to me in my living room. It was a vision of the cross on the hill Golgotha. A sun-striped path led thru a grove of autumn-colored trees to the foot of the cross. It was wooden, bent over in its blood-stained shame! I was overwhelmed by the beauty and glory of God! I worshipped in awe as I beheld this scene! It only lasted a few minutes but it has been burned into my mind for eternity.
On the next fast and testimony meeting I took a carving of the cross vision that someone had carved for me who heard about the vision. As I shared the vision, overcome with emotion, what a shock met my eyes! As soon as the congregation discovered what they were looking at it was like in the movies when you see vampires look at a cross! These folks looked up and down and all around but refused to focus on the cross! I became invisible for the rest of the morning. I was not acknowledged, nor spoken to -- nothing! I was very disheartened. I put the carving in a drawer and there is stayed until Jesus brought me out of Mormonism. I went back to being Molly Perfect Mormon. I excelled in and enjoyed my callings.
In 1990-93 I started work as a certified Nurse's Aid at the local hospital on drug, alcohol, eating disorder rehab center. I worked as a Treatment Tech where I helped the clients through counseling and assignments which followed the 12-Step Recovery Program. Here another piece of the puzzle was added. I learned about my Higher Power and how I could let go and let God. I learned how to visualize my Savior holding out His arms to me as I laid my burdens into His out-stretched arms. When my home-teachers got wind of it they warned me that I was playing with fire...it was a Protestant thing which is of the devil. But it was too late... I had learned of the personal Friend who never left me alone and was always there within a whisper of my heartbeat!
In 1993 as I escorted a sister through the temple, in the Celestial room, she started saying something. She was trying to say "Evelyn" (my name) but the word that came out of her mouth and was literally bubbling out like water from a hose was the word ELIZABETH repeated over and over and over. She couldn't stop! That word was my NEW NAME (and also hers), which we were forbidden to reveal to anyone but our husbands! We were both horrified. I whispered to her it was my new name. And then the babbling ceased. Those who witnessed this scene were dumbfounded. A sister told us to just forget about it.
But Sandra and I were not forgetters! We wanted knowledge! And then Sandra confessed something to me that put everything into perspective! She said that as she sat in the Celestial room the first time she was given a vision that everyone in the room was dressed in BLACK! She felt it was the Temple of Satan! But she had pushed it to the back recesses of her mind because she wanted to be a good Latter-day Saint. Another piece of the puzzle!
The only explanation I could get regarding these things was that demons are always walking into the temples with people who lied to get their temple recommends. How bizarre! The temple of the Lord full of demons!!!? I went there to be with Heavenly Father and I had to deal with demons, too? Come on! This doesn't jive!
We decided to go into the Christian book store and ask some questions. A Christian pastor was there and he listened to our story and then he enlightened us on some aspects of Mormonism and recommended some books for us to read. We learned the real meaning of the cross...and much more.
We went to church the next Sunday and Sandra was asked to give her testimony about the temple trip. She said as she walked up to the pulpit that she felt an evil presence standing behind her. She couldn't wait to get out of the Church! We met back by her car afterwards and she told me that she felt she needed to resign instantly because this was Satan's church! Now I wanted to do that, too, but I had so much invested in it! It was my whole life! At that time I opted to stay in and see what would develop.
I did have an insatiable desire to study the Word and found The Family Radio School of the Bible, and enrolled. It was hard and intense. But the teachers were patient and kind and soon the Holy Spirit just took those old scales right out of my eyes. It was like reading the Bible for the very first time. It became alive to me! I hungered and thirsted for God's words. I also learned more about Jesus Christ from some Lutheran friends.
This puzzle was almost together now. Sandra and I were given dreams - nearly identical. In both dreams Christ was there. In both dreams He indicated to the one who had the dream that he did not come just for a select group, (i.e.. Mormons) but for the whole world. In my dream His love enveloped me. He was my Shepherd, and I was His lost dumb sheep. I knew His voice. He knew mine! He knew my name! Such a wondrous overwhelming feeling filled my very soul! I was His child! I belonged to the family of God! Some people would call this a "born-again" experience. I like to call it my conversion experience. All I knew was that at that very moment I felt forgiven of all my sins and that I was loved unconditionally and that all the WORKS I had ever done as a Mormon were NOTHING in His sight! Believing on Him through the gift of the Holy Spirit and receiving His free gift of grace and the assurance of eternal life and salvation was the one boost I needed to be free of the bondage of Mormonism.
Sandra and I got into a Bible study at a local Lutheran church. Here the last puzzle piece fell into place when we read in Job 33 that God can speak to people through dreams and visions...warnings, to turn man from wrongdoing and keep him from pride, to keep his soul from the pit...even three times. This was just what God had done for me and for Sandra. I don't know why I was so lucky to get so many boosts by the Holy Spirit to send me in the right direction, but I think God knows that staunch Mormons are hard nuts to crack! How I love Him who died for me on the cross.
I continued to research the teachings of the Mormon Church; discovered the work of Jerald and Sandra Tanner. It gave me the courage to write my resignation letter. It was powerful. They released me in less than one month. It took a year for Sandra to get released. We both immediately got rebaptized into a little Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).
As a Mormon, I thought I had been trusting Christ as my personal Savior. Really what I was doing was trusting MY testimony, MY good works, instead of Christ who had shed His precious blood for me, a dirty, rotten sinner, on that cross of my vision, for my salvation. I was a sinful hypocrite. In spite of my sins I thought I was right with God as a Mormon. Yet John 13:35, Eph. 5:2, I John 4:10 and Eph. 2:4,5,8-9 told me differently.
I so love Jesus who died for me on Calvary. He washed my sins away. I no longer have to earn my own way to Him. All I had to do was to have faith and trust in His free gift of grace as it says in Acts 4:12. As Paul expressed in I Cor. 5:17, "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."
I leave you my witness and my testimony in Jesus' precious name.
In Christ's service and love, Evelyn Jean Hall