I have been asked by a number of people to write my testimony down. I have not written it down prior to today because, first, I did not know where to start, and second, I did not feel like I had a story, finally, I am afraid of what my family (95% Mormon) will say. However, after a conference my husband and I attended a couple weekends ago, I have decided that it is a story that needs to be told. So here is my story:
My name is Teri Campbell. I grew up in a 5th or 6th Generation Mormon home. I am not quite sure how far back it ran in our family, but that is not important. I was baptized into the Mormon religion when I was eight years old. I received my patriarchal blessing when I was twelve. I temporarily rebelled when I was eighteen but returned to Mormonism when I was nineteen. I served a Mormon mission in Novosibirsk, Russia when I was twenty-one. And I finally left Mormonism when I was twenty-seven. How? It started while I was on my mission. Surprised? It is all by the grace of God.
During my mission, I truly felt blessed to be able to share the "gospel" of Jesus Christ with people who had previously not heard of Christ. While there, I was confronted by a woman who was also from the states. When I said to her, "what does it matter what religion we are from, we are bringing the knowledge of Jesus Christ to people who have never heard of Him," she turned to me and said, "your Jesus is not the same Jesus as my Jesus Christ." With that we separated company and went our separate ways. Her words, however, continued with me.
During the year and a half I was in Russia, I read the Bible for the first time from cover to cover. I had questions, but didn't ask anyone. After all, the Bible was fallible... that is to say we believed in the Bible as far as it is translated correctly. I figured my confusion was merely mistakes in the Bible. There were other instances during my mission that I found confusing.
One that stands out is that while we were visiting with a family who were interested in the church, I asked them to pray to find out if Mormonism was false and God would tell them that it (Mormonism) was true. I had read an article in the Ensign (a Mormon publication) that spoke about that being effective in sharing the "gospel" with people. I got in so much trouble for asking them this question. I couldn't understand why we couldn't ask something like this...
After my mission, I continued on strong in the church for a while, but questions kept coming up especially the more I studied the History of the Church, and other Mormon books. I finally left the Mormon Church after sitting in front of a counsel of men, where I confessed my sins and asked for forgiveness. After being sent out into the hall while they deliberated on what to do with me (all of which I was able to hear from where I sat), I began to become more and more angry with the fact that these men who were as fallible as I am were judging me, which I believed was God's job. As a side note, I know that anger was leading my judgment with them at this point, but this is what made me leave the church for good. I was called back in and disfellowshipped. This is what they do prior to excommunication. It meant that I could go to church but I could not participate (i.e. not allowed to pray, give a talk, take the sacrament, teach a class, etc.)
The next two years after I left the church were full of pride and rebellion against all of the rules that the Mormon Church had held me under for years. Then, I decided I was going to chase my dream of singing and headed to Tennessee. After moving to Tennessee, I visited a Mormon church off and on. I now call it "getting my fix" of Mormonism. I would go, feel better, and then do what I wanted until the next time I needed my fix.
Fast forward to a few months after I met my future husband, at this point, I felt like something was missing and I was beginning to search for what it was. My future husband took me to my first Baptist church. I was so amazed that I could "feel the spirit" in a place that wasn't a Mormon church. Little did I realize at this point that emotions are deceptive and do not mean that something is of God.
After a couple of visits, I decided that I wanted to be Baptist. I think I mainly wanted this because of my future husband and not because I was saved. I prayed the sinners prayer with the pastor at the church and walked a way being told that I was saved.
A note about my husband (my rock through my struggle with Mormonism): He grew up in a little town in Idaho, which is 95% Mormon He had many friends who were Mormon and had many opportunities to learn about Mormonism first hand. In his own words, “I personally love the Mormons and wish we as Christ’s church could emulate the fellowship love within the LDS (“Latter-day Saints” aka Mormons) walls.” Despite his background and proximity to Mormonism, he was never drawn into their ranks and is adamant against the false teachers and doctrine that lead these sheep away.
Even after my husband and I married, I kept feeling a pull back to the Mormon Church. While I was pregnant with our daughter, I went back to the Mormon Church twice, behind my husband's back. While there, I was told I needed to divorce my husband since he was not Mormon. This was after two visits... Anyway, I finally broke down and told my husband what I had done. He was upset and concerned about the fact I had gone to the church (rightly so since I had gone behind his back) and after a long conversation, I promised I would not return to the church again.
A couple months later, we moved to a church that was closer to our house that has an awesome children's program. We became very active with the children's program. After attending this church for about a year, I realized that I had not truly made a commitment to Christ. Instead, I had been going to church for the wrong reasons, mainly because I felt important at church. At this point, I decided that it was time that I was baptized in the Baptist church. I had not been baptized previously, because up to this point, I had felt that my Mormon baptism had been me showing my commitment to God. Plus, I still had one foot in Mormonism. The following Sunday, I walked the aisle and asked to be baptized.
At this point in my story, I need to pause to say how great God is. There are so many times when He could have decided that saving me just wasn't worth it and struck me down. He could have let me continue in my sins and not show me the way, but He didn't. He sent His Son to die for me, the wretched sinner that I am, because of His great Love for me, although I do not deserve it...
Again, following baptism, I was renewed. I became more active in the church, doing all of the things I felt I was being called to do. Then I became pregnant again. I began to burn out. I started to find people to take over the things that I was leading, claiming that it was because of the pregnancy. Around this time, my husband found "The Way of the Master." The girls and I would get so irritated with him playing the radio program every time we rode with him. Mainly because he would play it so loud, the radio host would grate our ears.
One day, I had a couple errands to run, and my husband had left his IPod in the van. I decided to listen to the program while I ran my errands (at a decent volume level). I started to get hooked. After a couple months, my husband got irritated with me listening to his podcasts when he wanted to, so he got me my own IPod and downloaded the program onto it for me. Whenever I could, I would listen to the program.
Then, one day, a lady called in, I think her name was Katie. She was searching for assurance that she was saved. I had doubted my salvation for a while. This program gave me the courage to send an email to the ministry. They directed me to a couple of links which I had already listened to, so again I decided that I was saved and I was okay.
At this point, I really started struggling with my life. I joked around saying that my hubby turned 40 and I had a mid-life crisis. On the outside, I tried to keep everything together, but on the inside, I just kept getting worse and worse. God was showing me all of my sins and how worthless I really was, and I didn't want to see it. My pride was getting the best of me. I kept worrying about what everyone else would think knowing that I was a false convert. And I did not want my husband to know that I had not been saved. Because (strangely enough) I did not want him to rejoice if I became saved. My selfishness and anger at my husband had caused me to be so prideful God had to break me to bring me to Him.
The fact that my husband and I were registered for the Deeper Conference (hosted by Living Waters) was the only thing at times that kept me from walking away from my marriage or my job. This was because my selfishness was blinding me to what I have: A faithful husband who has been right beside me even when I have been downright mean to him and four beautiful children who are my life and my joy. That weekend at the Deeper Conference, changed me.
After the conference, I realized the reason I struggled with sharing my testimony, was because I wasn't sure I had one. I began reading my Bible, listening to podcasts of Paul Washer, Johnny Hunt, The Way of the Master, etc. I finally gave up. I began praying. Of course, I choose the worst times to pray. I was driving down the road on the way to pick up the kids from daycare. I gave it all to God. I asked that He forgive my pride and arrogance. I also asked Him to search my heart to rid me of any unclean thought and wash me in the blood of Christ. I know I am a wretched sinner who does not deserve the great love of God, that He would send His Son to suffer in my place because He wanted me with Him on that final day. He has saved me! This is my Testimony of Jesus Christ in me and of the Greatness of God that He would save a sinner such as me.
"For God so loved the world that He gave His Only Begotten Son that whosoever believes on Him will not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16