NAUVOO: THE “MECCA” OF MORMONISM
Imagine if you will that you are in a small town in the middle of America. It has been built on a hill with wheat and corn fields that surround the area as it lies on the lazy banks of the mighty Mississippi River. The town has one grocery store, one or two small family restaurants and one street light. Main Street is about eight blocks long, and at one end of town you’ll find the only gas station. It sounds like any one of the hundreds of small towns in America, yet there’s a hitch.
At the other end of town from the gas station there stands a white Mormon temple. It was rebuilt just a few years ago in dedication to Joseph Smith. Originally it had been burned down after the Mormons were run out of town and finally destroyed by a tornado.
The Mormon Church has dumped millions of dollars into its refurbishment and acquisition of the surrounding properties. Its architecture is grandiose with emblems of upside down pentagrams carved at the top. These encircle the entire temple. There are several large blocks of marble that have been carved with the sunstone emblem which is actually the sun god ‘Ra’; these are placed in strategic areas of the temple grounds outside. You will also see the emblems of the Greek star and moon stones that have been etched in the granite and limestone they imported into the area.
The stain glass windows throughout the building are also intricately designed with the upside down pentagrams. The temple dwarfs the other buildings in the town as if you were placing a Barbie-doll size toy in the middle of a Monopoly board filled with the little green houses. The temple is 161 feet, 9 inches high and is about 165,000 square feet in diameter. It dominates the town with its overindulgence of satanic emblems.
Down the hill the temple sits upon you will find a restored and well preserved section of Nauvoo that holds the housing area of the original founders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You can also visit Joseph Smith’s gravesite as well as Emma’s and other significant family members.
I have done a fair share of traveling in my 40+ years of life and it’s not very often when I go into an area that I feel the spirit of oppression. Nauvoo is the epitome of the spirit of this phenomenon and actually rivals Utah for me in this regard. We had to be on guard with prayer at all times and ready to give a reason for our faith as it says in 2 Timothy 4:2.
Everyone in life experiences a moment in time that changes our lives forever. After going to Nauvoo last year I wasn’t expecting anything dramatic to happen other than being able to witness to the Mormons while I was there for three days.
We toured the homestead of the founding prophet and also the gravesites of the Smith family. As I was standing at his gravesite of Joseph Smith it occurred to me that the man these people were worshiping is still under my feet.
In contrast, the Man that I worship has been raised from the dead and is alive again! It had to be one of the most powerful moments in my life. Yes, I had been saved for quite some time by that point but Jesus became even more powerful to me then and there while standing in small town USA at the grave of a dead man. My heart sank again as the happiness for myself faded to sadness for my people. I pictured what my own mother’s reaction would be if she could go to her “Mecca”. I’m certain that she would not have thought of the risen Lord Jesus.
Later that day we took the opportunity to ask the missionary on duty many questions as we took her tour of the jail in Carthage. The point of going through their tours is to ask pointed questions that make them think. While they answer us with defensive tones in their voices I know after they get home they will begin to think about their day and the questions that were asked. It may take a day for it to click with them or it may take a decade but they will think about it.
At one point Kirk, Theresa and I were standing in the upstairs jail room with about 50 Mormons also taking the tour. No one would stand next to me because of the cross necklace I had hanging around my neck so the three of us decided to disperse ourselves amongst the crowded room. Theresa asked the young missionary girl why it was that Joseph burned down the printing press in Nauvoo. The tour guide put her hands on her hips and exclaimed, “Because he was an ‘anti’!” Theresa asked if what Joseph did was illegal and the girl said, “The owner of the printing press was an ‘anti’!” She went on to tell the audience that Joseph finished the work for us when he was martyred so Kirk asked her if Jesus lied when He hung on the cross and said ‘It is finished’. The tour guide and others in the room yelled an emphatic ‘NO!’ and went on to say that Joseph had only finished the work he was supposed to do.
Each year the Mormons have what they call “pageants” at selected cities around the nation. The pageants are shows that re-enact the creation of the world and the founding of the Mormon Church. These pageants are akin to Mecca for the Muslims. I received an e-mail alert from the Church announcing that they are expecting no less than 250,000 Mormons in the one month time period they have the shows.
This year the theme for the Nauvoo pageant is different. This year the Church is celebrating the 200th anniversary of the birth of Joseph Smith. And in keeping with the theme of looking to Joseph instead of Jesus there will be much to do about this commemoration. The Mormon people spare no expense when it comes to being able to participate in the pageants or to even attend. Many families meet there for family reunions each year, hotels are booked months in advance and temple works are scheduled while they attend what they consider to be a most blessed event. The Church provides nightly shows that begin around 8:45 p.m. in the park in downtown Nauvoo. It is there where they will be re-enacting the beginning days of Mormonism with the list of characters that range from Joseph and Emma Smith, Brigham Young, Parley Pratt, John Taylor, and Heber C. Kimball plus many others.
The pageant runs from July 8th through August 5th.
Each year the pageant in Nauvoo is held, groups of Christians from around the world gather there to pass out tracts and witness to the LDS people. Last year we took a 6 foot flipchart and set it up in the middle of the road to gather anyone who would stop to read and ask questions. Kirk walked the surrounding area stopping anyone who would listen to him as he passed out witnessing tracts and took turns with me at the flip chart. And then Theresa Grote spent many hours passing out tracts, witnessing to those who walked by her in the four block area on the pathways the LDS people take to get to the park.
A good friend of mine by the name of Colleen Ralson has run a ministry to Mormons for the past 30 years in Nauvoo. Colleen and I actually share the same hometown of Ogden, Utah and she was a multi-generational Mormon as well. She has been the director of the Nauvoo Christian Visitors Center and has a store right on main street across the street from the temple. Please pray for the ministry there and for all the Christians that come to witness during this time.
I cannot understate the importance of this mission trip. The spiritual warfare the Grote’s and my own family goes through is immense! The evil one wants nothing more than to provide stumbling blocks in front of us to take our focus away from the real issue. Already our families have suffered through a car wreck, fatigue and a host of other anomalies that come our way. The Lord keeps reminding us all of John’s admonition that ‘greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world’ and this provides us great comfort as we prepare for our journey. This year Kirk and I are the only ones attending; however the prayer needs are extended to the home front as well. Please also pray for the saved ex-Mormons from Utah that are planning on attending.
Kirk and I are planning on being there from August 3-7. The reason we stay after-wards is to help our friend Colleen Ralson at the store. There are many Mormons who come by the store to find out exactly what she does and this provides a time for us to witness again! We will be taking small hand-held flip charts this year that are easy to carry. The charts will have a list of comparisons between Jesus and Joseph and the verses listing the Romans Road.
We don’t want any precious moment spent there to be wasted and so we are asking all our friends and supporters to join with us in lifting up the Mormon people in prayer to the God of the Bible. Our focus is to share with them that Jesus is not a created being and that He died for each of us on the cross at Calvary.
I know that after working the pageants for several years our missions do produce a good work unto the Lord. Kirk and I may have only begun going to Nauvoo last year but we’ve also been to the Manti Pageant that is held in Utah each year as well. People have contacted me personally to let me know they read the handouts and it helped them to find the Lord. Please pray that when we pass out the handouts they would not find the garbage can before they are read.
Please pray for our physical safety while we are there and also through our traveling time. I would say that roughly 85-90% of Nauvoo is Mormon.
We’ll be giving everyone updates of our trip upon our return!
You can read more information about the significance of the Nauvoo Temple at: