We published a story in January 2018 about Lynn and her family’s journey through the Mormon faith. We recently got in touch with Lynn to share more of her story.
If you found out the past 30 years of your life had been based on lies, what would you do?
Lynn Wilder surely didn’t know what to do. She and her husband had lived every day of the previous three decades giving countless hours to the Mormon Church (officially called The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or LDS Church). If Lynn came forward about her newfound faith in the God of the Bible, she knew what the results would be.
Loving Like Family
Lynn knew about Jesus during her growing up years. Both she and her husband, Mike, were raised going to church. But she said she cannot remember a single time when her family opened the Bible together.
As Lynn and Mike searched for a church during their first three years of marriage in Indiana, they realized they had a deep need for God. But all the churches they visited didn’t seem to reach that need. Lynn also became fascinated with the topic of Christians living in the last days before Jesus returns.
“So Mormons come to my door, and their tags say, ‘Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,’ which is the Kings James version of last days,” Lynn explained. “And they said they were the experts on all that. Of course, the story they tell is very different from the story the Bible tells about latter days or last days. But that was kind of my hook.”
It wasn’t long before Lynn considered the Mormon faith her own. The LDS community accepted her and Mike with open arms.
“They’re very good at family, loving you like family,” Lynn said. “So it’s a very close-knit community. Although we both came from very loving, Christian homes, they immediately stepped into a substitute position. Substitute mom and dad were kind of assigned to us. They began to love on us.”
She and Mike assumed the LDS Church was another Christian option, so they became more and more involved, with Mike working his way up to the No. 2 high councilor position in the Indianapolis and Muncie, Indiana, area. It wasn’t long before they moved to the heart of the LDS community in Salt Lake City, Utah, where Lynn began a tenured position as a professor at Brigham Young University (BYU), a private university owned by the church.
When Things Didn’t Add Up
Even though Lynn had given her life to Mormonism, she said there were moments when she questioned certain teachings. Especially when those preaching from the pulpits would tell the congregation what they were not allowed to read or look at when it came to publications about Mormonism.
“When they did that, I always read it,” Lynn said, laughing. “And so one of the things we were told not to read was this book called ‘Mormon Murderers,’ and I read that. It was about a man who had counterfeited some old LDS documents and then sold them to the church for millions. My brain went, wait a minute. The general authorities who talk to God can’t discern that this guy was messing with them?”
But Lynn never approached any LDS leader with her questions. She was happy, so she ignored the nudging concerns. And she didn’t want to lose her salvation.
“A Mormon leader can literally remove your salvation, not that you ever know you have it in this life,” Lynn explained. “In Mormonism, it’s very much like Islam. You work, work, work, work, and if you’ve done enough good works at the end of your life, God’s grace will kick in and do the rest. (That’s) what the book of Mormon teaches. So you’re never sure you’re saved.”
If anyone ever asked her the question if she knew she was saved, Lynn said she would respond with, “I hope so. I hope when the time comes, I will be.”
Everything changed in 2006 on the night Mike and Lynn answered the phone to hear why their son Micah was coming home early from his mission. Micah had lived a zealous Mormon lifestyle, but after he was challenged by a non-Mormon pastor to read the New Testament, Micah had decided to put his faith in the God of the Bible. His Mormon leaders were less than thrilled, going so far as to say he had a devil in him.
“The church leaders made us take him immediately to a regional leader who yelled at him, calling him an anti-christ,” Lynn remembered. “We were just shocked. Then they asked us to bring our son in front of the high council. … We knew if we did, and he professed he was saved alone by the grace of God, that he would be excommunicated from the Mormon Church, and we couldn’t allow that until we figured out why this kid was in so much trouble.”
So instead, they put him on a plane headed to a job in Florida. Before Micah left, he pleaded with his parents to read the New Testament. Since Mormonism teaches the Bible is corrupted, Lynn did not trust it. But she trusted her son, and she knew something profound had happened to him.
She began reading the book of John, and she said she suddenly began to understand how this God in the Bible was not the god of the Mormon faith. Soon, she became consumed with reading the Bible and could not get enough of it.
Lynn called the next few months her Twilight Zone. The more she trusted God, the more He began answering her questions. Even strangers would come up to her and answer something she had just been questioning.
“It started to occur to me that it was as if (God) was directing my paths, leading me to certain truths, leading me to certain people, and unfolding this as if I had some purpose on Earth,” Lynn said. “And that’s a huge, wonderful place to get to, where your life might be worth something.”
In October of 2006, Lynn made the decision to follow the God of the Bible instead of the Mormon faith. But she knew it wouldn’t be as easy as simply telling people that fact. She and Mike, who had also become a Christian, had lived a Mormon life for 30 years. And that’s not something you can walk away from easily.
Not knowing what to do, Lynn continued teaching at BYU, hiding her faith and the cross she wore around her neck. But one day she knew God was telling her she could not continue living this double life. She and Mike had to come clean about their new faith. But where would they go?
She was standing in her kitchen when God answered that question. Her phone rang, and she heard the dean of the college of education at Florida Gulf Coast University offer her a job.
“I dropped to my knees and threw the phone out, and I’m talking to God, going, ‘You can get me a job I never even applied for?’ ” Lynn said.
And with that, they left their Mormon life in Utah and moved to Florida. But nothing’s that easy, right?
A New Life
Lynn said the transition to life outside Mormonism was hell. She didn’t know how to navigate a world that wasn’t connected to the LDS Church. Her family was ripped apart, her friends were gone, all the truth she once believed in she now knew were lies. And it didn’t help when Christians accused her of being stupid for joining a cult.
“It took me five years,” Lynn said of her transition. “I remember I got cirrhosis. I developed all these health problems. It was such an emotionally difficult thing for me to have family members estranged. It was difficult, but God was there.”
When the transition finally lifted and life felt stable, Lynn had the opportunity to join the Christian television host John Ankerberg for a six-week series on ministering to Mormons. Out of this opportunity, Lynn wrote a book called “Unveiling Grace.” She knew God had brought her through for this ministry.
She and Mike now minister full-time to those seeking the God of the Bible as well as those who have left the Mormon faith. Micah and two of his siblings began a music ministry 12 years ago, a ministry Mike and Lynn joined five years ago.
Lynn now knows her purpose. You can find her answering emails, texts and calls from people every day seeking to know the God of the Bible. It’s not an easy ministry, but she knows she can never remain silent about her faith again.
Find out more about the Wilder family ministry on their website.