The best testimonies in church were always from addicts and ex-cons who started with, “If it weren’t for God, I might be dead by now.” In 2020, I wonder the opposite. If it weren’t for no longer believing, I could be dead by now. After all, many American Christians are sprinting toward literal mortal danger, toward Covid-19.
Years ago, after graduating from a Southern Baptist college, I set out to be an overseas missionary. I believed in a savior who died for me and I was diligent in “living for Him.” I encapsulated all the phrases we heard in church: on fire for God, filled with His love.
For someone like me, whose only desire in life was to have a close relationship with God and to feel this closeness, I believed God would put things in my path to bless me or test me. Both would make me stronger in my faith.
While at an international missionary base, training to spread the Gospel to people around the world, I was surrounded by people, some in their 50s and 60s, telling me how God wanted to bless me with my own prayer language. Us Southern Baptists didn’t believe speaking in tongues was real in modern times. It’s one of the beliefs that distinguish between Christian denominations.
But I wanted God. I wanted this.
People placed their hands on me to pray for me to receive this spiritual language, but nothing was coming from me. As a Baptist, reading the Bible and being good was the measure of a true Christian. Now I was surrounded by people who believed there was more. God was greater. I just wasn’t stepping out in faith and receiving God’s gift. I wasn’t letting go.
“God is perfect. Humans are not.” This was on me, and I was failing.
People at the missionary base noticed I was broken over this. Each night, they gathered around to lay hands on me and implore the Holy Spirit to wash over me and show his love to me.
With more praying and chatting with people late into the night, they realised what could be blocking me from receiving the...