Over the next two years, I had a few experiences that involved my faith. I had met a few interesting believers. I tried being a part of a church. I Had a couple of jobs; had a couple of girlfriends and took an interesting out-of-town trip.
It’s all chronicled in my journal that I’ll be publishing down the line. But I want to highlight some of my experiences here because it ties in with my deconversion story.
Getting on my feet.
I made a promise to myself. I’ll never go back to that particular state again without my own mode of transportation. The bus system in that city was disappointing. From what I recall, buses stopped running around 8pm on a weekday! On the weekends they were hourly and stopped running sooner than that. Even the taxi service there sucked.
I want to believe that ridesharing has since changed the game in that city.
I actually had gotten hired at a Red Lobster but never officially started because the bus system itself conflicted with my work schedule.
For a while, I was giving blood for my income and borrowing money from my parents. It took a couple months to land another job as a clerk at a grocery store that was within walking distance.
In between jobs.
Because I didn’t have my own vehicle and the transportation system wasn’t great, my prospects for jobs were so limited. It’s hard on a man when he has kids he can’t fully support; asides from not being able to support himself.
Inner and outer demons.
I think I may have covered up the stress and depression I was going through. For a time, I was drinking hard liquor regularly and of course smoking cigarettes and weed. To pass the time, I would go to the library and rent movie after movie. I developed an appreciation for foreign flix in those days.
The neighborhood was pretty bad. I had to isolate myself or get caught up in whatever mess was out there. Still, I somehow was able to make room for a female or two.
Sharing the gospel.
I think at some point early on, I started to go out witnessing. I wasn’t working so as a Believer, this was a perfect opportunity to use the time to do what Jesus commanded his disciples to do which is to preach the good news to all creation and to go out and make disciples. In those days, I used to carry around a vile of evoo everywhere I went just in case I needed to pray for someone.
This is how much the Bible was apart of my life. I believed in the whole Bible and believed in Christ’s mission and vision for his Church. I believed that making disciples was not optional if Jesus plainly commands it. You won’t come across too many Christians on average who share that conviction.
I used to wonder why other believers didn’t practice that at face value. They would kinda twist that and say that they’re lifestyle would be a witness as an excuse for not plainly sharing the Gospel with words.
For sure, actions speak louder than words, but as a former believer, I know the excuses are fear based much of the time. You don’t want to be intrusive. You don’t want someone lashing out at you. You don’t want to be labelled as a fanatical, Jesus freak. I get it.
I understood that being a disciple and witness of Christ took guts and a level of resolve. Your average Christian just doesn’t have the guts to be about the Mission, honestly. That’s probably a harsh critique coming from a former Believer. JW’s know that coming to your door is an inconvenience and for the sake of their cause, they could care less. That alone motivated me to step my game up.
A church home.
Every Sunday at the mission, different churches would come with their vans and the residents would go to their preferred congregations. I noticed that depending on your race, you were probably going to this church or that one.
Personally, I didn’t care for church because I could never find what I was looking for. But those were the days that I needed as much godly influence as possible so I chose a baptist fellowship.
I’ll believe it when God tells me.
I was very into my Walk then so when I first attended their meetings people took notice. The pastor there spoke out in front of other attendees and said that he believed God called me to preach. He didn’t directly say it was me but I knew. He even brought me a suit in time.
He wasn’t the only one that felt I was called to the ministry. The associate pastor’s wife said the same thing. But I always felt that unless God told me himself, I didn’t need to take peoples’ words to heart on that issue.
I kept going to this church after moving to my own place. After a while though, I don’t think they liked me very much. One thing I notice about “church folk” having the background that I do is that, they are by in large biblically illiterate.
Not only that but there is this subservient mentally when it comes to the layman-to-leadership dynamic that I couldn’t get with. It just reminded me of a soft form of slavery.
I’m just not “church-able”.
Not only did I know my bible but I was also free-thinking. I didn’t have denominational ties so my beliefs weren’t denominationally-bound. When I would attend their bible studies and toss in my understanding of verses, it became obvious to me that these meetings were for those who needed to be taught the basics and I was so far beyond that.
There were times when they would tell me they weren’t having fellowship but really were. They just didn’t want me attending. It bothered me that they felt they had to lie to me to keep me away. They couldn’t leave impressions on my beliefs the way they could with new converts.
This just isn’t for me.
In the end, I just couldn’t keep going to this church. I learned from talking to the church secretary that the pastor taught the same sermons year after year. She had been with the church many years. It just didn’t sit right with me.
In the Faith, I considered that “stale bread”. Stale bread doesn’t nourish, it makes people sick. I believed that God would give the minister a message for the week. Otherwise the Spirit isn’t there and that church is sleep. It’s entertaining when you’re there but it’s dead.
There were other things that I was concerned with but one that sticks with me to this day is, one meeting he went out of his way to share with us that were present, how a woman had accused him of infidelity to supposedly tarnish his reputation. In the end, the woman wasn’t believed but whoever she is, I just wonder if she was telling the truth.
When you have stature and influence in a community, I don’t doubt that there’s power to silence bad publicity. I ain’t accusing him but I do know at the end of the day, a man is just a man.
The Voice of the Martyrs.
I was a fan of this organization’s publications for some time prior to moving in 2010. While attending this congregation, I had met a man from another church who invited me to attend a Voice of the Martyrs conference. I was so happy to go and always wanted to attend.
The Voice of the Martyrs is a Christian publication founded in 1967 by Richard Wurmbrand. It had a big influence on my faith. Other than the Bible, I read their material more than anything. I had a decent collection of their free magazines and purchased quite a few of their books. I even donated financially to them. To this day, I still get sent their material.
I credit them for giving me the boldness in faith that I had to be an outspoken and unashamed witness of Christ. I had no problem witnessing to people on the street either one on one or in groups. “Tortured for Christ” was an inspiring book for me as well as “The Heavenly Man”.
The boldness I drew from the stories of persecuted believers throughout the world helped me when I defended certain aspects of the Bible with differently types of believers who can at times get aggressive to a degree. I could not tell my deconversion story without mentioning the impact VOM had on me.
Scandal at VOM.
In 2012, VOM executive Tom White committed suicide. He would do the foreword at the beginning of every magazine during his tenure. He was married with children and accused of molesting young girls. He ended his life with what was called a “toxic mix”.
After learning this, I couldn’t read the magazine in the same way and stopped reading it some time after.
Girls, girls, girls.
I had this girlfriend at the time who was not a believer. I even let her live with me(against my better judgment). Needless to say we were sexually involved. I knew it was wrong but again, I was filling a void that I was unaware of.
Well, on one occasion, I was having a nightmare and yelling out in my sleep. When I say yelling, I mean yelling. I don’t remember the dream but I just remember calling out “Jesus! Jesus!”. She had to slap me to wake me up. This would happen with other women I knew I had no business being with.
Back then, I felt it was God warning me that I was doing wrong and was in danger of making bigger mistakes. I didn’t learn my lesson because there were three more women after her.
I think I had those strong episodes because I was so into my faith convictions that on a subconscious level, I couldn’t be comfortable doing things that were in direct contradiction to my beliefs.
What about you?
Were you one of those believers who just couldn’t fit in at church? Did you find yourself often the smartest in the room?
What were some things in the Faith that you thought were of God but later came to realize that wasn’t the case?
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