An Unreached City
It has been a whirlwind two days for our group of teens and adults from Noblesville Baptist Church as we traveled to Salt Lake City. The journey began Sunday when we departed for the airport shortly before noon. With a bit of turbulence here and there we safely landed in Las Vegas a little over three and one-half hours later. There, we met up with Pastor Hack and the rest of the McPhee family and hit the road to Utah.
With the first leg complete, it was now a matter of driving to Salt Lake City. Riding in a bus for more than six hours can become a bit grueling, even with a couple stops sprinkled in, but it gave us plenty of time for fellowship, rest, and take in God’s creation. The terrain and views can be breathtaking; a drastic change from the relatively flat landscape of home.
We arrived at our destination in Salt Lake City around midnight, settled into our home away from home for the week, and grabbed what sleep we could. It was a very long day of travel. While we didn’t accomplish a lot in the way of ministry, we were worn out.
Monday’s busy schedule began early as we ate breakfast and were out the door before 8 a.m. After a short drive (less than 30 minutes) we arrived at Gospel Grace Church, our base of operations for Plant Camp. This week we have joined youth groups from Green Bay, Wisconsin and Fair Oaks, California to assist in the church plant efforts in Salt Lake City. At Gospel Grace Church we were introduced to the pastoral team and the Plant Camp ministry team, and learned more about Salt Lake City and the Mormon religion.
After a time of fellowship and general information, we departed for downtown Salt Lake City and a tour of Salt Lake Tabernacle, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Conference Center and viewed Temple Square. It was interesting to see the mix of both historic and newer structures that are key components to the Mormon faith. Next on the agenda was lunch in the park before traveling to Ensign Peak. It was here that we were able to take in all of Salt Lake City from a perch well above the hustle and bustle (see the top photo). It was in this same place that Brigham Young first surveyed the valley in July 1847 and plotted a design for the city. Jon Kopp, one of the pastoral team at Gospel Grace, gave us an extensive history lesson on Salt Lake City and the challenges the city currently faces as it transitions from an area almost exclusively Mormon to one that is split close to 50/50.
Following our excursion to Ensign Peak it was then on to canvassing neighborhoods for upcoming Gospel Grace Church events. The Noblesville teens and sponsors split up into groups and covered a section of Salt Lake City where a Backyard Bible Club will begin Tuesday and run through the end of the week. We went door to door informing the locals of this event and others that will take place during the summer.
It was then back to Gospel Grace Church for dinner before we joined up with the other two youth groups. At that time, Will Galkin brought a message/challenge and we were released to close out the evening with a prayer walk. It was during this prayer walk that we took time to individually pray for our walk with the Lord, pray for our team’s health and unity, for the people in the area, and that the Lord would be glorified. We arrived back at the house around 10 p.m. and curfew was set for 11. After two long days, there were no complaints. Rest was in high demand.
The term “unreached people group” is sometimes applied to groups where less than two percent of the population is Evangelical Christian. By that definition, the populace of Salt Lake City could be viewed as an unreached group. Consider that the current population is 1.2 million, with 27,000 said to be evangelized Christians and 100,000 Catholics. Of the remaining group, 662,000 are identified as Mormon, and another 298,000 are considered unclaimed. In the average city across the United States there is one church for every 1,000 people. In Salt Lake City, that figure is one church for every 10,000 people. Only two to three percent of the population attend an evangelical church on any given Sunday. By rough count, there are one million people in the valley in need of Jesus. One million!
So the need is real. The field is white and ready for harvest!