What do I think of Micah Wilder’s book? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
I like the Wilders. I got to know them when I read Lynn Wilder’s book Unveiling Grace and I ended up feeling like I knew her family well at the end of the book. It is an excellent look at what goes on in the Mormon Church and it all started with her son Micah going on his mission trip and becoming a Christian when he was challenged to just read the New Testament like a child. Now, Micah has released his story. Normally, one refers to writers by their last name, but since this concerns a family, I will be calling him Micah.
Micah is certainly an amusing writer to read at times. Consider one part where he notices the walls closing in on him of Christianity and having to leave behind Mormonism. At that point, we get the description that goes as follows:
My head was pounding and my throat was so dry that my pitiful wails came out sounding like the distant honks of a lonely Canadian goose.
That’s a word picture for you.
Why is this so difficult? Isn’t it just changing a religion? Don’t Christians change denominations all the time? As Micah says
The mere thought of the high cost I had to pay frightened me and made me feel guilty. After all, every facet of my life was so deeply entrenched in my religious identity: my family, friends, school, career path, relationships, reputation, hopes, dreams, earthly aspirations, culture, respect, and more. I couldn’t even fathom a life outside of that which I knew. Was I willing to walk away from everything the world had to offer?
Mormonism essentially becomes someone’s life and society. The closest parallel I could think of to this book was reading Nabeel Qureshi’s Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus and how after he became a Christian, wished God would kill him then so he wouldn’t have to tell his parents and disgrace them. There are a lot of similarities though between Islam and Mormonism, so this isn’t too much of a shock.
HIs story starts with him going on his mission and he has been assigned to Mexico, but then while playing a sport in the training facility, an injury occurs out of nowhere. Micah’s writing at this point when the doctor comes to him to tell him what it is is quite amusing.
“Hmmm…” the trainer said. “It sounds like you might have a broken rib.” The look on his face betrayed him, however. We both knew I was a dead man. There was no way I had broken a rib; I hadn’t had any physical contact with anyone. Whatever had happened came out of thin air, as if God Himself had poked me in the back with His almighty finger.
He turned toward me (while conveniently avoiding eye contact) and proceeded to serve up my death sentence rather coldly: “It’s a primary spontaneous pneumothorax.”
Dear Lord no! I thought to myself. I’m going to die! I had had no idea what his prognosis meant, but it sure sounded hopeless. As the doctor was nonchalantly exiting the room, he glanced over at me and, in a rather routine style, declared, “Oh. Your lung collapsed.” “Oh?” I said sheepishly. His heart may have been in the right place, but his bedside manner needed a little polishing.
To all ladies reading this, think “Man-cold.” Whatever sickness or injury a man has, it’s a death sentence. Unfortunately, Micah got stuck with Dr. House delivering the news. What are you going to do?
Anyway, because of this, he is sent instead to Florida. (Suffering missionary, eh?) As he describes his journey as a zealous Mormon, one statement he made stood out to me. We need to do better.
Unfortunately, the benevolence demonstrated by these few godly individuals was not commonplace in my experiences as a missionary. In the thousands upon thousands of people I had engaged with, I could count— perhaps only on one hand— the number of Christians who not only displayed to me a genuine Christlike love, but also proclaimed the gospel as revealed in God’s Word.
Too many might turn Mormons away because they don’t know how to answer them. That itself shows we need to do better. Most of our Christians are no match for the Mormons that come to their door. There’s a reason for that.
He contrasts this also with how he sees himself as a Christian now and how he would interact with Mormons today. This is a statement our church needs to hear.
Contrary to what the world seems to preach, true love is not affirming others in their sinful and lost state, it is proclaiming the Christ who can liberate them from captivity. Therefore, my greatest calling as a Christian is to be a conduit of God’s love to unbelievers by proclaiming to them the grace and truth found only in Jesus of Nazareth.
I also quite loved this simple statement he has later on
I’m not saved because of a church; I’m part of the church because I am saved.
But the long and the short of it is he did meet a pastor who challenged him and urged him to read the New Testament. He also was regularly going to a place Mormons seemed to hang out with for some time called the Edgewater Hotel. There, he would meet a man named Erik who would become a sort of mentor for him.
As you can tell from the description I have given, Micah does become a Christian. This led to his family and his girlfriend who he eventually married becoming Christians. Not only that, his sister married one of the missionaries he had been on his mission with who also became a Christian.
Micah’s book is a delightful read and there are so many quotes I highlighted that I won’t share, but get to the point of what a difference Jesus makes in your life. I won’t share them because they do come up in places where he is having interactions with the leaders in his church that could spoil plot points. One statement I will tell you is that he says to not make Jesus part of your testimony. Make Jesus your testimony.
If there was anything I would change in this book, I have just two criticisms.
It can be hard to follow the timeline since he goes from when the events happened, which can make sense, but they can be hard to follow for the person who wasn’t there. That could lead to confusion at times. I also know one chapter was on a hurricane and yet I was wondering what the whole chapter was about with the title until the end as the hurricane was never named and if you didn’t live there, you might not know about it.
The other is that I would like to have heard something about how Micah was doing his day-to-day duties. While he was wrestling with this, was he still also going around telling people about Joseph Smith and believing in him and giving a testimony? What kinds of things was he saying on his mission to people he visited?
Despite those critiques, I still see this as a great story about a young man being changed by Jesus on his mission, something we should all consider should happen. It also lets people in and see what the world of Mormonism is really like. I also don’t know any book that is an account of a missionary becoming a Christian besides this one, so if you want to understand Mormonism more, give this one a try.
(And I affirm the virgin birth)