Why did I stop believing in God? The shortest answer would be that I ran out of excuses for him.
Pentecostal Christianity stresses that God is actively involved in the believers’ lives, answering their prayers, communicating with them, and changing events around them. As a teenager, I loved this idea. I was raised in traditional Catholicism, where God, while powerful, was very distant. I always thought that if there is a God, I wanted to have close contact with him – I couldn’t imagine any other way of living a meaningful life. But the dull Catholic liturgy, repeated week after week, did not provide me that. So when I found myself at a charismatic, joyous Pentecostal meeting, I knew immediately that what I had discovered was a religion for me.
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.