Brian Mackert was the 28th child of a polygamist Dad who had four wives and an astonishing 31 children. The family was part of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS) which encourages the taking of multiple wives.
However, when trouble hit the family, Mackert’s mother left his Father, leaving Brian angry, confused, and with murderous thoughts towards his own Dad. As part of its core beliefs, each man in the fundamentalist Mormon church has to marry at least three women to achieve godhood. But Brian was not favored by the leadership, and he began to harbor resentment towards his own community.
“It didn’t matter how much I tried to please the elders, I wouldn’t be receiving a daughter of Zion as a wife,” he said, as reported by Baptist Press. Fear, rejection and pain became the central emotions in Brian’s life. He decided to leave the religion he had grown up in. He got heavily into alcohol and drugs and eventually enlisted in the US Navy.
When it came to his day of discharge, Brian promised himself that he would pick up a gun and kill his Dad to escape the trauma of his childhood. But before he could carry out his plan of revenge, a chaplain intervened and showed him a different way. Mackert received therapy, and things started to shift in his outlook.
“It helped me come to the realization that killing him wouldn’t make anything better, but I still hated him,” he said. However, Mackert was craving and searching for meaning and spiritual fulfillment. But he was still angry at his Father. So, he tried going back to Mormon services and attempted to embrace the very religion that had rejected him. Every time, he left with a sense of emptiness.
When he eventually married and his wife refused to become a Mormon, he was relieved. Despite his desire to become an atheist, Brian’s wife urged him to try a Baptist Church and see what he made of it. After some time, he became enamored by the person of Christ and was captivated by the gospel. Eventually, Brian surrendered his life to Jesus.
“I called my dad. We hadn’t spoken in 13 years,” Mackert said. “I talked to him and forgave him and asked him to forgive me for having judged him because God hadn’t put me on earth to be his judge.”
Was there a happy ending here? Not really. Things were still hard between the two of them; the communication felt stunted, and there was little connection between him and his Father. But there was something more meaningful going on beneath the surface of Brian’s life.
“It had everything to do with me letting go of the bitterness and the anger,” Mackert explained.
Fast forward a decade, and Mackert is back in the polygamist Mormon community. However, this time, he is reaching them with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
“God’s called me to move back and plant a church here,” he declared. Brian established Short Creek Fellowship in Colorado City, AZ. Hit their website, and you are met with the wonderful words of Chris Tomlin’s worship song “Jesus”:
“There is a truth older than the ages
There is a promise of things yet to come
There is one, born for our salvation
Brian’s church website declares their simple mission:
“We are here for a very specific purpose: To introduce people to Jesus and lead them to become fully committed followers of Christ.”
Then, a word on reaching the Mormon community with the Gospel of Jesus Christ:
“We are reaching out to the polygamist Mormon culture through an act of compassion, giving us an opportunity to build relationships, that then provide an opportunity to share the Gospel of Christ. This will become the avenue to disciple new believers who are equipped to share the Gospel with others.”
But it hasn’t all been easy.
Not long after Brian began ministering to the community, the FBI busted a massive food stamp fraud operation going on in the FLDS. “The leaders were charged with embezzling $12 million from the welfare system, so all those benefits were frozen for their families,” Mackert said.
Almost overnight, thousands in this Mormon community were impoverished and hungry. Brian knew he had to do something. He was compelled to put his newfound Christian faith into action to bless his former community.
Mackert sourced huge amounts of food and stocked up a 10,000-square-foot warehouse. In July 2016, Short Creek Family Services completed its inaugural food distribution, feeding more than 100 families. Now, just over a year later, they’re distributing 24 tons of food per month to feed 1,000 families.
“It’s giving us a golden reputation in the community,” Mackert said. “People are beginning to see that we just want to help them, that we don’t want to control them or take from them. They need to experience our love before they respect what we have to say.”
It hasn’t all been easy, though. Brian explained how the spiritual persecution has been immense since he arrived – vandalism, threats, and even the sabotage of his prized motorcycle.
“The spiritual attack has been vicious, but we won’t quit,” Mackert said.
Plus, many are coming to trust Brian, as they see how committed he is to God’s work in their community. “People will sometimes come out of their way to find me and say, ‘Brian, can I talk to you?’ And we would go in my office and they would pour out their pain, and I would pray with them over it,” Mackert said. “People are starting to come to me with questions.”
“I’ve never in my life experienced so much conflict, but I’ve never in my life had so much peace and joy.”
(H/T: God Reports)