With Barb PeilRome Mission Summary
On one leg of the flight, I sat next to Barb Peil, who works with Thru the Bible—the radio ministry of the late Dr. J. Vernon McGee. She was on her way to the Netherlands to help them set the program up there on the internet. She told us a story of an LDS family that felt bad for her not going to be able to go the celestial kingdom since she was single, so they offered to have her sealed to the husband in a temple ceremony even though she wasn’t LDS. She wouldn’t live with them and there was no sex involved. It was just an arrangement to assure her family togetherness throughout eternity. She used the proposition to explain to them how thankful she was for their concern, but that she was trusting Jesus to get her to the celestial kingdom. He was her mediator, not some earthly husband.
My dad and I got into Rome early Sunday morning, and I couldn’t sleep on the plane ride over. I’ve always said that I can talk about Mormonism in my sleep, and I was able to prove that when I spoke on it at Rome Baptist Church later that day. I had been up a little more than 24 hours when I began to speak in the early afternoon service. There were probably around 50 people there who all spoke English. Overall, the presentation went well, however my mind went off track a couple times. My dad noticed it, since he’s heard me speak many times before, but the other people I talked to afterwards said that I did a great job and they didn’t even
Rob preaching at Rome Baptistnotice the sleep affecting me.
The next day we met up with my brother Greg and his friend Dusan, who flew in from Serbia. We had dinner next to the Baptist church. The couple next to us asked about the dessert we got. We asked them where they were from, and they said the States… in Connecticut. We told them we were from Utah, and they said they used to live in Logan, UT. They asked if we were out for the temple opening. We told them what exactly we were up to. They asked if I had been to the CT temple opening, and after I told them I was the guy with the big sign out front, the guy (Neil) said that he remembered me! He worked PR for the temple opening there. We had a nice time chatting, and Greg and Dusan even serenaded Tamara with a Serbian song that was named after her. I ended up giving Neil and Tamara a Jesus Christ/Joseph Smith DVD.
The next day we walked to the temple, which was about a half-hour walk from where we were staying. Before we got on the tour, I met an usher (I forgot his name; something like Paul Chess) who used to live in Brigham City and went to the same ward as my wife’s uncle—Mike Nelsen.
Our tour guide Marissa was originally from Salt Lake, but was living in Lyon, France for the last few years. She made mention of the atonement in the garden, so I asked her about it. She said that there were two parts to it. One in the garden where Jesus took on our atonement and the other where He finished His life on the cross. I asked her why she believed that the atonement happened at all in the garden, and the answer was simply that He sweated as it were great drops of blood.
The tour went quickly, since it was just the four of us. We got to the sealing room and began asking Marissa about how families can be together when our kids can be exalted for their own worlds. She said that this sealing primarily has to do with her husband. Then we asked if she was alright sharing her husband if he got sealed to another if she were to die. She said she’d have to, but she hopes if he does that it would be to someone just like her best friend who she easily gets along with. Then I asked why she believes in marriage in the afterlife when Jesus specifically taught it wasn’t going to be the case and that we’d be like the angels (Matthew 22). She said that was a good question to ask at the end of the tour in the reception area.
We got outside, and there were our friends Neil and Tamara from the night before. I told Neil that I had woken up at 2:30 in the morning and couldn’t get back to sleep for a while, and that they were on my mind, so I began praying for them. We chatted with them for about an hour or so before finally moving into the reception area.
In the reception area, we all began talking to different people. I noticed that behind the Christus statue they had statues of all the apostles. It was interesting that Andrew and Philip were displayed carrying big crosses. There was also a subtle cross on both the front and back door of the temple. This all was obviously to win over Catholics. Temple Square in Salt Lake City has a picture of Jesus on the cross, but Mormons are generally adverse to cross displays, and in the words of their late Prophet Gordon B. Hinckley responding to Christians wondering why Mormons don’t display the symbol of the cross, “[F]or us, the cross is the symbol of the dying Christ, while our message is a declaration of the Living Christ.” I may have seen only one picture of Joseph Smith and the first vision, and that was in the reception area, but that was it. The other pictures were mostly of Jesus.
Dad, Greg, and Rob SivulkaI must have talked with a sister missionary from Eagle, Idaho for about an hour. She said that for her everything came down to personal revelation. She was polite enough to listen to me go through all the problems I had with Mormonism. Near the end, an older lady came by while we were talking about the bad fruit of Smith’s racism that is still experienced today in the fundamentalist Mormon groups as well as the Book of Mormon that is used by the Salt Lake City group. We were specifically talking about the priesthood not given to blacks until 1978 when the lady came. She said that that was then. Anyway, we began talking where each other were from, and I found out that she and her husband used to live in Phoenix. We talked about the Phoenix Temple Opening, and came to find out that her husband gave me treats, water, and a chair there. He, Mike Pickered, was now the temple mission president there in Rome. She called him and got him to come by. We talked for a while, and then my dad, Greg, Dusan, and I left to go eat.
After dinner, we went back out during rush hour traffic and advertised my MormonInfo.org/JosephLied.com sign. Greg also got out about 10 of my Italian “Did You Know…?” tracts (here’s the English version) to pedestrians. There were not very many pedestrians, since like other temple openings, the LDS Church allowed visitors to park on their property. When traffic was dying down, we went to put tracts on cars at the parking lot of the large mall--Porta di Roma.
Dusan, Dad, and Greg outside the visitor's centerThe next day we met Steve Dealy from Nauvoo, Illinois Christian Visitor’s Center, who was passing tracts out when we arrived. There were a lot more visitors passing by, so we began passing tracts out and holding up my sign. Dad went down the street passing tracts out and putting them on the cars. I talked to a guy and his aunt from South America. I couldn’t talk too long with them, since there was some language barrier and he was too given over to his testimony to really consider another point of view.
Not long after this, two policemen came out and told us that it would not be possible to distribute literature and hold up our sign. We would have to put them away in our bag immediately or we would be taken to jail. We could stay out front and talk to people, but the problem was that we could only really talk to those who spoke English. Most did not speak English. The police also didn’t say anything about my shirt that says “JosephLied.com” on it, so I wore it for the rest of the opening.
We all started to walk to Porta di Roma to get a hold of my Italian translator friend, Adriano, and ask him about what the cops told us. On the way there, we stopped to talk to an usher who just got off his mission in Italy but stuck around to help with the temple. His name was Issac. He asked us about the temple, and we started talking about what Jesus said about marriage not obtaining for the next life. He said Adam and Eve were married prior to the fall, so the intention was for it to be forever. I told Issac, that they were still
With Tamara and Neilon Earth, and Jesus clearly said that there wasn’t going to be any marriage in the next life, but we were going to be as the angels in heaven, which according to Issac’s own scripture (D&C 132:19), they are single. He asked me if I have checked with Joseph Smith’s Translation (JST) of the Bible on what Jesus said. That allowed me to tell Issac about how there is no evidence for the JST and all the evidence is against it. He asked me how, so I explained to him the example of Rom. 4:5 and how all the thousands of manuscripts, all the Church Father sources, all the early lectionaries agree and only the JST is contradictory to all of them.
He listened to me pour into his life for almost an hour while the others took off to Porta di Roma. I explained to him how Joseph Smith failed each of the biblical tests of a prophet of the Lord. Issac thought that the modern-day revelation is all that mattered, and it could contradict what was given previously. He gave the example of Peter being told to preach to only the House of Israel, and then he was told to preach to everyone including the Jews. I explained to him how two statements may only appear contradictory, but when you examine their senses as well as times, they turn out not to be contradictory at all. I gave him the example of “it is raining out” and “it is not raining out.” These statements are not necessarily contradictory, since each may refer to different places or different times. I asked him if I was making sense, and he said I was, so I asked if I could pray for him, and he allowed me to. I prayed that God would bless
Dad, Neil, Tamara, and Robhim by giving him life, protecting him, and that I would get to spend eternity with him in God’s kingdom. After I was done, I hugged him and told him to look me up whenever he gets out to Salt Lake City.
We met Adriano later, and he said that if the cops think that something is too provocative and may start a fight, they can shut it down. He said we could get shirts printed, we could put out small cards with simple Bible messages on them to distribute, but we could also continue putting literature on cars. So that’s just what we did.
The next day we talked to some people in front of the temple. People were rather closed off to us for the most part. They were busy catching a bus or wanting to go in to see the temple.
We noticed that almost all the people we spoke with were from Utah! The other people we just couldn’t communicate with due to the language barrier. I thought that if I simply spent my time talking to Utah people, then I would really be wasting my time out there. I could be doing this at home! So we went back to the parking lot at Porta di Roma, and distributed almost 350 tracts by putting them on cars. If we wanted to engage the culture, this was basically our only option. It was certainly better than nothing, and it’s encouraging that very few tracts were found on the ground from the day before.
Sister missionary and RobThe next day, I must have walked over 10 miles! I went around the neighborhood of the temple and placed my tracts on cars and in postal boxes. Steve Dealy with Joe Bei from New Jersey were handing out Institute of Religious Research’s Italian tract “Is Mormonism Christian?,” and Steve brought 1,800 of them over.
When I finished up that night and began walking toward the temple, I notice the huge amount of traffic that was backed up down the street. An older couple walked past me, and they were dressed up and looked like non-Italian Mormons, so I said hi to them and asked where they were from. The woman wanted to go, so I focused my attention on the guy. He said he was from Australia and they were out to see the temple. I asked him if he would please check out my site sometime… JosephLied.com. He asked me how to spell it, and as I did, his wife came back and dragged him away. As he was leaving, I told him that I put a lot of work into it and would appreciate him checking it out.
I walked up to the entrance of the temple and it was jammed packed with cars coming and going. There wasn’t anyone walking around, so it was really disappointing that I couldn’t use my sign like I usually do. I thought the night was over, so I went to Porta di Roma to get some gelato.
Afterwards, as I was walking across the busy street, an older LDS gentleman was motioning me across. When I got to him and his wife, they asked me where I was going and what I was doing. They were from Logan, UT. We immediately got into a very intense 10-minute conversation as we were walking. I knew I didn’t have much time with them, so I told them that I was there to help people understand the differences between Mormonism and Christianity. That got us off to the races! This guy thought I needed to study the Trinity, but he was typically clueless with his LDS assumption that the doctrine teaches that the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit were all the same thing. I quickly told him that I hold to the Catholic doctrine of the Trinity even though I’m Protestant, and that he was confused, since the Trinity teaches that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are different in their persons, but the same in their being just as the angels of a triangle are different from the sides of a triangle even though they are inseparable wherever there’s a triangle. I told him that the LDS Godhead is made up of separate Gods and that the Father hasn’t always been the Father until He impregnated a wife to have a Son.
This LDS guy went off on how even Jesus also had to impregnate a wife simply because He had to not just die for us, but experience everything we experience. I told this LDS guy that was blasphemous, since God didn’t require getting a wife to be God; He’s always been God and doesn’t know of any other God, and that’s
Rob in front of Andrew and Philip with crosseswhy this LDS guy wasn’t going to become a God and have spirit-kids bow down and worship him to the exclusion of the God of this world.
I told him Joseph Smith has been lying to them. He lied about the Book of Abraham when every Egyptologist denies his translation from the papyri. He also lied about having only one wife, when the LDS Church admitted he had 30 to 40, and 12 to 14 were currently married to living husbands at the time. This LDS guy asked, “Do you know why?” I knew he was going to say that Smith wasn’t after them for sex, but, like Barb Peil above, was looking after their eternal interests. So I quickly said, “Because he was a typical cultic false prophet who had bad PMS—power, money, and sex. He said that my resources were “garbage,” even though I quoted to him from the article in LDS.org’s Gospel Topics—“Plural Marriage in Kirtland and Nauvoo.”
I was now walking in the parking garage with them. I wasn’t going to go back into the mall with them, so as he was yelling at me, I yelled repeatedly “JosephLied.com” as they walked into the mall. Other Italians were getting in their car and were probably wondering what in the world was going on.
With President Mike PickeredThe last day of the temple opening was rather uneventful. However, I got out 600 tracts… most of which were away from the temple. At the end of the night, I decided to go back to the temple and check out the scene, and put my remaining tracts on the cars on the street outside the temple. There weren’t that many people walking around, but, like the night before, there were a ton of cars. I began putting them on the cars that were parked in front of the temple. One Italian family just got out of their car, and I made the mistake of giving one to them. I continued putting the remainder of my several tracts on cars. When I turned around to walk back, I noticed that most of my tracts were gone. I walked up behind the Italian guy whose family I had given the tract, and he was taking them off the cars! I must have spooked him when I got right behind him and said, “You probably wouldn’t like me doing that if you were putting Book of Mormons out.” Not sure if he understood English, but nonetheless, he knew I was calling him out. He quickly went across the busy street to the side the temple was on.
I knew if I left these tracts on the cars, chances were good that they would not get to the owner of the cars, so I took the several that remained, and walked over to the mall to randomly put on cars over there. It was an even more frustrating way to end this outreach!
However, altogether I got out around 1,900 Italian tracts, and left Rome Baptist Church with quite a bit of English material—DVDs and Temple Opening papers. May God take these feeble efforts and bear some fruit!
Here’s the video I took of our efforts outside the temple.
Thanks so much to those of you who prayed and/or financially gave to this mission!
R. M. Sivulka
President, Courageous Christians United
P.O. Box 1374
West Jordan, UT 84081
(801) 738-0539 (leave message)
I'm praying you to have a blessed + safe trip to Rome. May God be with you.
Dusan and Rob
It is according to the Scholars that the Gospels were not written by the followers of a Jewish Messiah but by the intellectuals of the 3 Flavian emperors after the 66-77 C.E. war between the Romans and the Jews. Christianity replaced the Jewish Messianism that warred against the Roman Empire with a version of Judaism that would be obedient to Rome. The purpose of Christianity was suppression.
[I replied:] You speak broadly like all scholars buy what you're saying. However, numerous scholars disagree that the Gospels were written that late. There are basic reasons for that, most notably John A. T. Robinson. The argument basically is that Acts was written by Luke after the Gospel of Luke as stated in Acts 1:1. There are 2 good reasons why Acts was written prior to 70 AD: 1) there's no mention of the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD, and you'd expect that in the first book of Christian history if the event would have already happened... especially, if nothing else, to promote Jesus' prophecy about it's destruction in such places as Mat. 24. 2) Paul's death is never mentioned, and you'd expect that as well if he had already died. All scholars recognize that he died in the mid-60s. So the Gospel of Luke was written prior to this, and it's recognized as a later Gospel.
I had a thank you today from a sister or brother Paavani who read
Greg and Robthe article you allowed me to post on mormoninfo.org , never believed before and has accepted Christ along the way and it was a blessing to receive a thanks, thank you brother and thanks be to God, please would you pray for them with me, thank you.
I pray your trip was a success brother and your safe and well and all those that joined you in service, praying continually for this work brother, I have had a few hits contending on the Roman Mormon Temple link you shared and I pray that will be used some what towards those seeds planted in Italy or Rome and the Word has free course through all the brethren there, God bless you bro and all your concerns, thanks and maranatha.
Praying for you and and any brethren joining you on the Rome mission trip, praise to God for the news that it is coming together and I will pray it will be a success in many a regard as well as reaching the lds, and you will have a safe journey and be delivered from all evil and devises before you and you all have a blessed and fruitful time, I will certainly be praying for further support and company and on Friday through out, mail me if you have any further prayer request and I will keep an eye out in my mail box.
Rob dialoguing with a closed-minded Mormon from St. George, UTThe Lord bless you Rob,
Thanks to you brother and thank you for the news letters and being able to have the opportunity to share our blessings together and so our thanks is our Lords, and God bless all of your family while your away from them.
P.s Be vigilant Rob about yourself and those your with when you are there in Rome and round about VC and I pray for all and your complete safety and blessing having a successful outreach and the seeing of the further establishing of friends and partners from the trip, God bless you.
Rob - I can tell your a good guy ! I can definitely tell you love Jesus Christ ! It’s hard to covert people with debate ! I’ve been LDS all my life But I was also raised baptist and catholic ! I love Jesus Christ ! I grew up in a group of churches ! If you told me I worshipped a false Christ that wouldn’t enhance our relationship or build rapport ! Lol I like your spirit and heart and courage to preach the gospel but apologetics and debate don’t work ! I’m a born again Mormon for example - how would you square that with your testimony of Christ to me ? Am I damned ? Am I a walking contradiction ? How would you approach me knowing I love Jesus Christ and I’m saved but I grew up in three churches ????
Steve Dealy passing out tracts to cars and my brother Greg passing them out to pedestrians[I replied:] I'd tell you that if you follow your own scripture and damn the creeds of traditional Christianity (PGP, JS History 1:19), then you are indeed following a false god and false Christ and need to repent. If you want more info on how LDS have devalued Jesus/God, then see my home page chart of differences on www.MormonInfo.org.
And btw, regardless of whether apologetics work or not, the Bible commands it (2 Cor. 10:4-5, 1 Pt. 3:15, and Jude 3). But having said that, I have seen many examples of it working over the years, so I have no good reason to believe your point of view. Perhaps you're simply speaking autobiographically.