17 July

 Journey to Freedom

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

- John 8:32

I was born in Phoenix, Arizona, and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada. I lived a pretty sinful life growing up and was introduced to the Mormon religion when I was 19 years old. Some of the girls at the beauty college I attended sent the women missionaries to my home to teach me about the Mormon faith. I didn’t know it at the time, but my soon to be husband was a Mormon.

The gospel they introduced me to was not the Gospel I know now. I was taught very little about Mormonism, but I was taught that Jesus loved me—which was enough for this sinful, spiritually hungry girl. I wanted His love and forgiveness, and so I was quickly baptized into the Mormon Church.

What started out as my love for Jesus, and His love for me turned into a continuous battle of trying to be good enough to earn salvation, all through a set of rules imposed upon me. I would continually try to perfectly adhere to these rules, thinking it the only way to maintain this love and forgiveness that I had found.  Soon, the Church made it necessary that I change my lifestyle even more—not that the way I was living was bad (according to God’s Word) during that time; it just didn’t conform to their worldview. I had to adapt to these new laws and rules that I never even knew existed before I was baptized. For a while, it seemed that each new member that came into my life, whether they were a leader or just a member of the congregation, had a new rule to offer me. I continued to obey these rules and encouraged my family to do the same.

I remember vividly a time when my husband wanted to take our 10-year-old daughter out on a Harley ride and get a Jamba on a Sunday. I got so upset with them because this was not honoring the Sabbath—a rule I was told to keep in order to keep me on the path to salvation. Additional rules began to affect my marriage and family in ways I had not expected. Without realizing, my family began to suffer.

The fruits of living this oppressive lifestyle were adding up quickly. Our family looked really good on the outside. We all appeared happy and looked very nice. What remained hidden from everyone else were the guilt, oppression, anger, captivity and fear that began to dominate everyone’s life in our home. I didn’t understand where this was all coming from at the time, but now that we have all been set free from religious captivity I know. The fruits of Christ’s True Gospel are very different and apparent in our home and our lives now. There is so much peace, tranquility, love, happiness, and joy it is hard to explain, but makes me ache to do so. I know God desires this happiness for everyone!

I would like to make it clear that my separation from the Mormon Church had nothing to do with unworthiness or transgression. For 18 years, I was 100% devoted to the LDS Church.

During those years, I never once questioned the truthfulness of their gospel. My faithfulness was clearly demonstrated by my service in the Church, and anyone who has ever served with me can attest to my wholehearted dedication and commitment. We held weekly family home evening, daily personal/family prayer and scripture study, regular church attendance, temple attendance, and gave generous tithes and offerings. I was a very faithful member.

The turning point for me came because the fruits of living this way began to destroy my family. I could no longer deny the truth of what was happening. My family was falling apart and I needed God more than ever. I went out alone and fell to my knees crying, “Jesus, what do you want me to do? I do not want to betray you by leaving the Mormon Church and yet my family is falling apart. Tell me, Lord, what to do.” I felt a peace come over me about leaving the Mormon Church. It became a peaceful conviction that I could do this and Jesus would walk with me. I could not have left the Mormon Church otherwise, because leaving God’s “true” church was not something I ever wanted to do.

I went to my husband and told him what I had experienced. After much prayer, we decided we would go to our community Christian Church. Each lesson from the podium was as if God was answering every question I ever had about the Mormon Church, and the pastor never once mentioned Mormons. But God was doing something wonderful in my heart. He was setting me free.

I began my search. I wanted to know everything. For years, I was warned not to read anything contrary to the Mormon Church, that just the act of doing so would be apostatizing and demonstrating a lack of faith. So at first, I was scared to do it. I never knew how much fear had been instilled within me.

But because of my walk with Jesus, He gave me the strength to carry on and search. I learned that Jesus wants us to search out truth. He wants us to know everything about Him. He is not afraid of anything! Wow, it has been great overcoming my fear.

I have learned so much! I know that Mormons are generally really great people. They love God very much. I sure did then and still do. But I must tell you; there is so much they do not know.

I invite you to take a walk with me through this book and discover how you can be freed from any religious captivity you might be in. Whether Mormon, Muslim, Catholic, New Age, or whatever it may be, there is a God that wants to set you free—free to live the most amazing and adventuresome life you could ever imagine!

-       La Vonne Earl

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