Sent in by Andrew H
Hello all! I am a former Evangelical Christian. I was a leader in my high school youth group, I went to a Christian college, and even spent about 10 months overseas as a missionary. I was a "strong, growing" Christian. I tried to convert (successfully in some cases) my "unsaved" friends in high school, I led discipleship classes, I didn't have sex, alcohol, cigarettes, etc...
My passion was traveling, and thus I naturally felt as if God had "called" me to be a missionary, which I did for nearly a year.
After my experience in Christian College and on the mission field, I got engaged to a Christian woman from a strong Christian family. From the day I was born until then, my whole life my mind was in the "Christian Bubble".
Then one Saturday in February of 2004, I stumbled upon a web journal of a girl who was traveling around the world for a year. I spent nearly 6 hours reading every entry. She was not a missionary, she was just traveling for travel's sake.
Something in my mind clicked and I knew I had to do something similar. I wanted to travel. Not to do "God's work", but just to see what was out there. Of course I would still be a light for Jesus...
I called off the wedding, quit my job, and bought a one way ticket to London.
I then spent 9 months in Europe. There I met some of the nicest, most "moral" people I've ever met. Yet they were non-religious. I also saw governments with almost no religious influence provide and help the poor more than any church or government I've ever seen in the states.
I then spent a few months in Africa. I saw utter poverty. And in the midst of the starving, I saw white missionaries handing out bibles. The effects of the missionaries were horrific, I won't get in to the details as that would take me 50,000 words. To sum it up though, a few of the problems I saw were the families that were divided, the life long friendships broken, the attitude of arrogance, the lack of education, HIV and the religious fight against condoms, the abuse of hospitality, to name a few.
Then I went to the Middle East and spent a few months in the Muslim culture. And while I had a great time and met many wonderful people... seeing the effect of Islam on culture as an outsider was sad. Especially in regards to women.
Through out my time in Europe, I moved from a "typical evangelical", to a "liberal Christian". My time in Africa broke my heart, not just because of the poverty, but seeing from an outsider what negative effect missionary has on the host culture. I had been doing that for much of my life. I just didn't realize what I was really doing. I was raised to believe missionary work is the highest calling one can have. By the time I was in the Middle East I felt I was a Christian only by culture.
When I got home, and tried re-entering my old life, it was obvious I didn't buy any of the religious BS I was fed my whole life. And while it is tough that I've lost many friends, and there are now walls between me and my family members, I have never felt so liberated, fulfilled, and content in life.
Ironically, my favorite bible verse has stayed the same throughout my deconversion....
Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free (John 8:32)
And the truth sure has set me free!
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Online Reading List
- An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish by Bertrand Russell (1943)
- Bible Teaching and Religious Practice by Mark Twain
- God is Imaginary
- Is there an Artificial God? by Douglas Adams (1998)
- Skeptics Annotated Bible
- The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine (1795)
- Which Way? by Robert Ingersoll (1884).
- Why I Am Not A Christian by Bertrand Russell (1927)