All throughout Middle School and High School I identified as a militant atheist.
I hated God. I loathed religion. Faith disgusted me.
I fervently despised those who were religious and believed that having a belief in God was a symbol of one’s weakness. I would scout out Christians, and try to trip them up in their faith. I found joy in mocking Christians, listening to blatantly sacrilegious music (black metal and death metal,) and also in writing anti-Christian poetry and literature. I had three published pieces of anti-Christian literature by the time I was 18. I also wrote and sold anti-Christian zines at my High School. Needless to say, atheism was at the very core of my being.
When I was 16 I started working at a movie theater, and just like an offbeat rom-com, I fell in love with a co-worker. Little did I know that she was a Christian. You could say the bad boy fell for the good girl. Oh, how this messed me up. The girl I loved stood for everything I hated. For the sake of young love, I decided to overlook her faith. Little did I know this was the most dangerous thing I would ever do. I unknowingly gave God an open invitation to come into my life.
As these stories go, we started doing life together. We dreamed of the future. We got engaged. We got our first cat together. We started our first business. What I didn’t know is that my bride-to-be had been praying for me every day since we started dating. She had been praying to the God I didn’t believe existed, specifically that I would meet Him and give my life to Him. Every day she would see the word, “patience” while she prayed.
In July of 2012, A week before our wedding, I lost my job on the way to a business and leadership conference in Texas. This was our first time traveling out of state by ourselves, and to make matters worse, I booked us a $25/night hotel in the ghetto for the sake of saving money. This was not one of my brighter decisions.
When we arrived at the hotel we found a sign that read, “No refunds after 15 minutes.” Our room had no number sign on the door, graffiti on the interior walls, cockroaches in the mini-fridge, piles of broken wood strewn about, and white stains on the bed sheets. My fiancee understandably broke down. This was not how life was supposed to be going. I called a friend of mine and asked if he could pick us up and if he had anyone we could stay with. We were so young that we could not even rent a car yet! We were stranded and had no idea how to get out of this mess. My friend, on his birthday by the way, came and picked us up and found us a place to stay. This was the start of our weekend.
By the time Sunday arrived, I was invited to a chapel service by my friend who picked us up. Actually, I was more so told that I was going to chapel — I wasn’t given an option to not go.
My friend’s boldness at telling an atheist that he was going to chapel became a defining moment of my life.
I went to the chapel service, albeit I slept in, and I heard a preacher with a stutter. This stuttering preacher simply talked about the gospel. His presentation of Jesus was the first time it fully made sense to me. The only way I can describe it is that deep within me I knew that Jesus was real and the gospel was true. My entire world was turned upside down. In one moment everything I had held to be true was revealed as false. I no longer had enough faith to be an atheist. I still had a great amount of pride in my life that did not want me to admit that I was wrong. I did nothing that Sunday morning, I left without making any changes.
Over the next two months, God absolutely rocked my world. He never stopped pursuing me. All I could think about was Jesus. It is not a good thing for an atheist to think about Jesus for two months straight! About seven weeks after hearing the gospel God delivered me of my pride while I was house-sitting for some friends of ours. He kept revealing Himself to me, even before I confessed Him to be my Lord and Savior. I started having this burning desire to go to church, but I could not muster up the strength to admit that I wanted to go, especially to my newly-wed wife.
I wanted to hear more about Jesus. I needed to know more about this Man I couldn’t stop thinking about.
On September 3rd, 2012, I went to the church my wife’s family attended. I heard a message about the ‘Keys to the Kingdom.’ I heard about all the great things that God has for those who believe in Him. I was sold. I was going to be a low-key Christian and reap all the benefits without telling anyone. However, one verse was read that messed up my plans.
John 3:5 reads, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit.” What is that all about? I had no idea what that meant, but I knew I wasn’t born of the Spirit. Like I did in Texas, I left the church service that Sunday morning without making any changes. I was royally twisted at this point. I could not get that verse out of my mind. I decided to call my friend who told me I was going to Chapel a few months prior. I quickly asked him about the verse and what it meant. He proceeded to tell me what it meant and asked me a very tough question.
“Do you believe that Jesus is Lord and Savior?” he asked.
“I don’t know.” I replied.
“There is no ‘I don’t know’s’ in the Kingdom. Only yes or no. What do you choose?”
I can joyfully say that on that very phone call I gave my life to Jesus! On that same phone call, I was baptized with the Holy Spirit. I can still remember the look of shock on my wife’s face when I came into the house and told her I gave my life to Jesus, and that I was baptized with the Holy Spirit. That day I called everyone in my contacts list and told them the great news! The responses were mixed, but I did not care.
I had never felt so alive, free, and full of joy.
Today, my wife and I currently serve as Middle School Youth Pastors at my local church — actually the very church that I heard the ‘Keys to the Kingdom’ message! What is truly amazing is that God took me from living and breathing anger and hatred towards Christians, to preaching about how real He is, and equipping young men and women to walk in His power and love. Before I used to draw young Christians away from God in school, but now He has redeemed my past by sending me to the schools to bring in His Kingdom! He has redeemed my writing as well. Where I used to write against Him, now I write for Him.
God is beyond good! He truly leaves the ninety-nine to go after the one.