When I was about ten, during a Sunday night church service at the First Baptist Church of Englewood, Colorado, I asked a simple question that started me down a road to spiritual discovery.
We had missionaries from Africa as guests that night. For my many Mormon friends, being an LDS missionary is different than being a missionary in just about any other church. In other churches, missionaries are adults – oftentimes, completely established with families. For them, serving a mission is a lifetime task. But they have to have funding. So, every so often, they fly back home and do a tour of churches. Usually during a Sunday Night service, they relate experiences from their mission, show pictures, and ask for donations.
It was on one such night that I had my question. While showing pictures of some of the people they had come across in Africa, these missionaries mentioned that many of the people there had never even heard of Jesus Christ. I don’t think I heard much else of what was said that night. My mind was troubled. It was a warm summer night, and our church was less than a mile from our house – so we had walked. On the walk home, I posed my question:
“Dad, how is it that those people in Africa haven’t heard about Jesus?”
“It’s just different there,” he responded. “They don’t have churches like we do. That’s why it’s important that we support missionaries.”
That led to a new question: “But what about the people who never hear about Jesus – what happens to them?”
My dad was quiet for a moment. “Well, they go to hell.”