I grew up in the Assemblies of God denomination and, in my twenties, became a licensed minister with the Church of the Nazarene for nearly a decade. I received undergraduate and graduate Religion degrees from Nazarene colleges. After graduate school, I worked on the mission field in Africa assisting with church planting among remote tribes and with work focused on conversion of Muslims to Christianity. But the hypocrisy, dishonesty, naiveté, and general lack of compassion of many missionaries caused me to begin doubting the point of missionary work. After three years of work overseas, I decided to return stateside and I knew I wouldn’t be continuing in the ministry.
I was at the end of an ever-fraying rope when I wandered into a southern California church. Sick of who I was, and how I was living, I sat down on a pew and nervously awaited what I hoped would be a divine intervention (I sure as heck needed one). Years of drug and alcohol abuse had left me desperate for a fresh start and a new way to “be.” One hour and fifteen minutes later, I found exactly what I had been looking for (funny how that works). A faithful congregant led me in the “sinners prayer,” gave me a brand new cellophane-wrapped bible, and sent me on my way with the belief that God had created me, sent his son to die for me, and had a wonderful plan for my life.
I ate it up and drank it in. I needed it.