Micah Wilder went on a two-year mission trip to convert people to his cult but his worldview was turned upside down when he was given a simple challenge along the way.
At nineteen years of age, he went from Utah to Orlando, Florida, which, he says, is a very "evangelical, Bible-based area."
"I was a little naïve [about this] as a young missionary," he laughs. "I was convinced that I was going to convert everyone I saw and be the greatest missionary ever."
From a young age, Micah was taught that Jesus was not the Son of God and only a prophet and that it was through his own religious acts that he was made right with God.
When he was a teenager, his family moved to Alpine, Utah. "My family was very zealous," he shares. "My father was a high priest and my mother was a professor at a religious school."
Micah, too, was very committed to his religion and, during his mission trip, admitted to being "over-zealous in my attempts to convert others".
"I tried to convert a [Bible-believing] minister and his entire congregation, which I was unsuccessful at," he reminisces. "But it did open an opportunity for God to begin an amazing work in my life."
Micah sat down with this minister and told him "that there were works and ordinances and commandments that had to be followed in order to be made right with God".
The minister's response "was that the only way to be made right with God is through Jesus Christ and through the blood that He shed on [the cross]."
However, Micah's response to this "was to completely and utterly reject the Gospel [the Good News of Jesus saving us from our sins]."
"As I was leaving his office, the minister stopped me and said, 'Micah Wilder, I challenge you to go home and read the Bible as a child. And I promise you, that if you do that, He will open your eyes and show you what the true Gospel really is.'"
Micah took up the challenge and started to read the Bible for the first time in his life.
"Every day that I read, God consumed me with this amazing love that I did not know and that my religion could never offer me," he proclaims tearfully. "He unveiled to me a grace (undeserved love) that I had never before seen."
With three weeks remaining of Micah's mission trip, he became a born-again believer and accepted Jesus Christ as the Son of God and the Saviour of the world.
"I was not looking to walk away from my religion," he says, "But God pursued my heart relentlessly until I just had to give up because I was so broken in my sin. I came to understand the amazing power of the blood of Jesus Christ and how it had cleansed me of my sins. [I realised] that it was not because of me and what I had done for God but because of God and what He had done for me!"
Micah soon had the opportunity to stand up in front of his peers and leadership and share the Good News with them when the missionaries gathered to debrief after their trip.
"I remember that it was my turn to get up and share my testimony and I remember...trembling in fear." However, Philippians 4:13, "For I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me," came to his mind.
"Through God's grace, I was able to share a very simple testimony and tell them that Jesus Christ was the only thing I needed," he says. "Two days later, I received a phone call from [the leaders] who wanted to chat with me.
"It was the single, most terrifying thing that had happened to me. My parents, my siblings and my girlfriend were all [part of this cult]. It was my entire life and it was everything that I was and wanted to be."
Before the meeting, Micah read the Bible and came across the verse, Matthew 19:29, "And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for My Name's sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life."
"I realised that if I lost everything in this world for the sake of gaining Christ that it was worth the cost," he says. "I went into this meeting and sat face to face with my leaders. I told them that there was no church, religion, organization, or works that could save, but Jesus Christ alone was the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6)."
Micah was told that he "was filled with the spirit of the devil and that he was an anti-Christ." He was threatened with excommunication and kicked off the mission field.
Then, he had to return home to Utah to face his family.
"I shared with them the Gospel and invited them to read the Bible as a child and allow the Lord to work through their lives as He had done in mine," he tells. "One of my brothers, my sister, and both of my parents came to receive Jesus Christ."
Micah's girlfriend also became a Christian through a radical journey of her own and later they got married and had three sons.
Now, Micah lives in Florida and is an evangelical pastor who shares his faith at every opportunity. Having come from a cultic background, he understands the doubts and questions that many have about Christianity and is passionate to share his beliefs.
"But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." [Romans 5:8].•