I grew up in a safe, busy and fun home with great love and care in Sandy, Utah, just south of Salt Lake City. Being from Utah, it’s not surprising my parents raised me and my five siblings in the LDS church. My dad served as the local bishop for many years and held other regional leadership positions within the Mormon church throughout my youth.
As I grew, I became very good at doing and saying the right things. I knew how to “be religious.” I tried to find my relationship with God by doing good, being good and acting good, but it felt a bit like running on a spiritual treadmill: a lot of effort with no forward movement.
This continued into my early 20’s when I married my (now) wife of 25 years. Heather also played the good religious part proficiently. Two or three years into our marriage, we were struggling badly behind closed doors, but on the outside, we were an up-and-coming young couple. Both of us were youth leaders in our local LDS congregation, and we had a great reputation within church circles. No one knew that behind the scenes we were openly discussing divorce, and neither one of us had any confidence in our personal faith.
One night we sat down together in our tiny apartment to finalize what our divorce would look like. For the first time we were truly honest with each other. I shared openly with her about my shortcomings as a man and husband, and she shared openly with me. It felt really good to tear down the barriers and be vulnerable and real.
That night we came to three conclusions. First, we were hypocrites. We were living and acting like people we factually were not. Second, we had serious questions about whether our religion was correct, and we felt lost and confused in our relationships with God. Third, and probably most importantly for that night, we discovered we were still madly in love with each other, but we had way too much “stuff” between us. So, we went on a cleaning spree. We both quit our jobs that hindered our marriage and moved on to better ones. We eliminated unhealthy and unsupportive friendships, and we quit our religion.
At her new job, Heather worked with a young lady named Janna, a new believer in Jesus fired up about her relationship with the Lord. She was engaged to a young man named David, and the four of us became fast friends. Dave and Janna never made their faith—or our lack thereof—an issue in our friendship. They just invested in us. They liked us, and we liked them. Whether or not it was intentional, they brought Jesus into our lives.
As our friendship grew, we eventually began to ask questions about what they believed and why they believed it. Over the course of months, they patiently answered our curiosities. Eventually Dave gave me a book about LDS doctrines and what the Bible said about each subject. It was simple: LDS scripture on one page, Bible on the next. At the back, a goofy, low-budget illustration depicted how to receive Jesus as your Savior: sad stick figure drops his burdens at the cross, receives Jesus as his Lord and becomes a happy stick figure. A terrible $3 illustration, but it stuck! That day I had eyes to see and ears to hear the gospel and recognize what it was.
I wrestled with that stupid stick man for several days. One day on my way to work, I pulled over at a city park. I walked to the middle of a soccer field, looked up at the sky and broke. For the first time I was honest and vulnerable with Jesus, and I received him as my Lord and Savior. I did point out to him, however, that I thought he was a little nuts for wanting trashy people like me in heaven. Leaving that park, I knew I was saved. My life had just changed for eternity!
I wanted Heather to have the same experience, but I wanted her to come to it on her own in a genuine way, so I put the book on her nightstand and asked her to check it out so we could talk about it. About a month later I came in the front door and found Heather waiting for me. We made eye contact and started crying. She pulled the book out of her back pocket and held it up, and I nodded. She, too, had received Jesus.
Neither one of us had ever stepped into a non-LDS church, and we had no idea what to do next. Lucky for us we had Janna and Dave. We called them and said, “We have both accepted Jesus…now what?” Dave and Janna found a church for us that would not mishandle our new and delicate faith. They took us to South Mountain Community Church, the first USMB church plant in Utah.
SMCC received, taught, discipled and loved us into spiritual maturity. I will forever be grateful for the pastors and believers who were willing to be equipped and to get busy serving the Lord in this way. Thank you, Jesus, for loving them, and thank you Janna, Dave and SMCC for loving us the way he loved you!
John 13:34 says, “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.”
Jeff Hubrich has served as pastor of Lakeview Church’s Grantsvill campus in Tooele County, Utah since July 2020. He and his wife, Heather, have been married for 25 years. They have two children. Prior to entering full-time ministry, Hubrich spent 20 years in the aviation field and the last 15 years of his career as an airline captain.