Unbound: Why I am No Longer an Atheist (A Blueprint for Reaching the Unreachable)

Every day people from around the world message me with questions about life, theology, God, etc. Inevitably, the number one question I get is, “Chris, why did you become a Christian?” This is usually followed by some derivation of the following statement: “…because my son, daughter, mother, father, friend, coworker, etc. says they’re an atheist and I don’t know how to talk to them about God.” (Don’t get me started on the church’s current failure to train the body how to address this issue… Shameless plug: check out my book Prove It: The Art & Science of Understanding & Articulating Why You Believe What You Believe if you’re looking for strategic communication techniques and a general understanding of the arguments for the existence of God, the deity of Christ, and the reliability of Scripture).

As for my personal testimony, I have, historically, just sent people to one of several interviews in which I have spoken about my transformation. This morning, however, something struck me. There is a clearly recognizable process in my testimony that can be duplicated. So, while the testimony itself is a long process, I can break it down into three simple steps for you here.

  1. The first point that caught my attention was the life of those who truly cared about others, who lived their lives as if God really existed. Their character and actions spoke to His tangible presence in their lives. Everything they did (or didn’t do), was based on their relationship with God and they let me know that God was the reason when I asked.
  2. The second element was study. I always had an idea of what Christianity was, but I had never paid much attention to it, likely because the people who professed it rarely spoke about it. The few that I had seen speak regularly about it were so rare that they just seemed like oddballs. I had never seen Christian belief lived out so totally that I could see Christianity as a complete worldview.  It wasn’t until I was twenty-five that I began studying the things of God. Once I really began to listen, I began to see the deep truths within Scripture. Don’t get me wrong, I still kept on my skeptics hat, but I decided to consider some of its claims. (For those interested in guiding skeptics through their questions, read this: Someone Close To Me Is An Atheist. What Can I Do? )
  3. Third, and most importantly, after a lifetime of receiving pain from, and inflicting pain on, this world and its inhabitants, I became so utterly convinced of my sinful nature that I could no longer deny the need for a Lord and Savior.

An interesting pattern arises when you look closer into this story. The first thing that spoke to me was the lives of those around me – the character witness of Christians. Assisi is famous for saying that we should “preach the gospel always, and if necessary, use words.” The statement itself is problematic (as it is always necessary to use words), but his emphasis on the need for character is spot on. Likewise, it has also been said that people won’t care what you know until they know that you care. We are overwhelmed by information, to the tune of roughly 34 gigabytes of data per day. We have to make decisions about which information paths we choose to listen to and consider. It was not until I knew they cared that I cared what they knew. Then I began to want to know what they knew. Of all the data being thrown at me daily, I decided to listen to their voices. I listened to what they had to say and what their God had to say. I began listening to the Word of God – spoken through His people and occasionally directly through His Bible. Once this happened, it was game over. It wasn’t that I would read about sin and felt like I needed to repent or perish. It was that as I got closer to God and His Word and His people, I began to see the contrasting sin in my own life – His holiness to my worldliness. In truth, the actions that I had been committing were no worse than the actions from my past. The difference was not the degree of my sin. The difference was my proximity to Him.

Closing Thoughts

So there you have it. One way to reach the unreachable. 1) Let your actions shout from the rooftops. Let people see that God is good and He really is the way, the truth, and the life. 2) Help people find truth when they are ready. Guide them when they are willing to be guided. 3) Watch God be God. As they get closer to Him, they won’t be able to avoid their need for Christ!

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Leave a comment below and share to get your friends in on the conversation.

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For more like this, check out: Someone Close To Me Is An Atheist. What Can I Do? 

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21 Comments
  • Selina Stambi
    Posted at 11:31h, 06 May Reply

    Very touching, powerful testimony, Chris. I’ve always been aware that actions must shout from rooftops. Yay God!! Bless you. 🙂

    • admin
      Posted at 10:19h, 08 June Reply

      Thanks Selina. Blessings to you as well!

  • Kennedy Joseph
    Posted at 11:55h, 06 May Reply

    The presence of God in ones life is what makes the difference, and knowing Him for ourselves.

    • admin
      Posted at 10:19h, 08 June Reply

      Yes sir!

  • Suzy Taylor Oakley
    Posted at 07:44h, 07 May Reply

    Chris, I’m so glad I found this website and blog. I’ve been interested in apologetics for some time and am always happy to find someone who doesn’t “do public arguments,” as you put it. It’s one thing to debate face to face, but social media tends to break down true, respectful dialogue into something horrific.

    About your specific points in this post:

    My husband is an atheist, and I always say, “On paper, he’s a better person than I am.” He doesn’t buy the argument that people are better people because of God and that God is the source of morality. It’s hard to sway someone who is basically good (from a worldly perspective) and doesn’t see sin as sin.

    Our church small group (which he attends with me) is discussing Tim Keller’s “The Reason for God” chapter by chapter, and this has been a major source of stress for him. He’s very scientific-minded and picks apart each argument logically (in his view). He keeps his mouth shut most of the time, but at one point I encouraged him to speak up when he disagrees (because I believe it’s beneficial for us all to know his objections), and it got very awkward because he kind of “let loose.”

    I’m writing a book here (sorry!), but this is the first time I’ve written in public about his and my differences (except to merely say in my own blog that I’m an evangelical Christian married to an atheist).

    Again, happy to have discovered you Chris. I look forward to a continued relationship in this space.

    • admin
      Posted at 08:11h, 07 May Reply

      Hey Suzy,
      Thanks for your comments! That sounds difficult. As an ex-atheist, I understand why your husband might feel the way he does. Sadly, most of the Church has not received training in how to address these things. I’ll tell you what! I will make a point of putting a piece of my apologetics book up next week that focuses on atheistic morality. I will have to adapt it to article form, but I believe it may be helpful for you guys and hopefully some others as well!

    • admin
      Posted at 07:01h, 10 May Reply

      Suzy. Here is that article that I promised. It addresses some of the philosophical problems with atheistic/relativistic morality. http://e07.6b9.myftpupload.com/uncategorized/can-you-be-good-without-god-5-reasons-moral-relativism-fails/

      • Suzy Taylor Oakley
        Posted at 20:30h, 10 May Reply

        Thanks, Chris. And because I subscribed to your blog, I received a separate email with the post. I appreciate the personal touch, though – glad you made sure I got it. I look forward to reading the book excerpt.

  • Suzy Taylor Oakley
    Posted at 08:16h, 07 May Reply

    That’s great, Chris! I look forward to that. Thank you for the help. I’m a baby apologist eager to learn more. It is especially helpful, I think, when the argument comes from an ex-atheist. (My favorite author is C.S. Lewis.)

  • Bruce Cooper
    Posted at 13:26h, 08 June Reply

    Thank you Chris for your testimony. I became a Christian much like you did in my mid twenties, Many years have gone by since then and I am so grateful for the many times our Lord has saved my hide, May God bless you richly.

    • admin
      Posted at 13:28h, 08 June Reply

      Thanks Bruce. I’m grateful indeed. Bless you brother!

  • CJ Walker
    Posted at 01:21h, 13 June Reply

    When I first came across you on Twitter, I wanted to know your story. Thank you for sharing! This is a teachable moment as we are called to be Kingdom Builders. It helps to know how to share the Gospel to those w different backgrounds/philosophies. I love when you said, “show you care and I’ll care about what you have to say.” Thanks again!

    • admin
      Posted at 07:43h, 13 June Reply

      Absolutely. Bless you CJ!

  • Jerry Mitchell
    Posted at 17:36h, 22 June Reply

    Hi Chris. I’m glad you reached out to me on Twitter today, and I’ve enjoyed ready about your testimony.
    It’s safe to say that all Christians have a testimony, or they would not have become Christians in the first place – true?
    I was born into a Catholic family, was Baptized, and received my First Communion, as well as being Confirmed a “Catholic”.
    However – all that happened when I was too young to even understand the meanings of what I was doing, or “Why”.
    And, to be truthful – the “teachings never stuck”, especially to a young kid growing up on the streets of Brooklyn , N. Y.

    While the “teachings” never stuck, I was always compelled by a “Higher Power” (which today I know was the Holy Spirit) to be “curious” about where everything came from.
    I know I was the biggest pain in the butt to my entire family & friends because i was always asking “WHY”….why does it have to be that way?, Where did all this come from? Why do we have to “Pay Bills” to have the needed electricity (which my Mother always complained about leaving the lights on) to “LIVE”….I always thought that we shouldn’t have to “PAY TO LIVE”.
    I guess it was right then & there that I became a virtual “Rebel For Christ” without even knowing it, and all at the young age of 10 years old….I was able to easily see “Oppression” all around me, and, most of it was directed “AT ME”, as well.
    I was always sad when I saw other kids being able to buy Ice Cream, while I used to have to beg my Mother for a Quarter, until she finally would smack the heck out of me for “Bothering Her”…..that was ‘Oppression” right there, coming from my own Mother.

    Yet, still…through all the tough times growing up in Brooklyn (my own Brother dying of a drug over dose @ age 19, while I was 16)….I was still a “Happy-Go-Lucky Kid”, because I felt a “Higher Power” that was always with me, and it was always there to comfort me, and give me the strength to “Carry On”, regardless of how terrible things were – and, I did it with a “Smile”……because that’s the way I saw how “Life Was Supposed To Be”, even though everyone around me knew that I was a “Dreamer”, as they called it, because I never ACCEPTED that “Life Should Be Cruel To Anyone” – especially to me!!
    I would ask myself – what did I do so wrong to deserve a “beating”?….I’m just a little kid after all.
    This, of course, only gave me more determination to “Fight Against Any Oppression” – again, especially against me!!
    While I certainly was “No Angel”….I was still as “Innocent As The Driven Snow”, and I could never understand why I was being treated so cruelly…..none of this made any sense to me at all.
    So, I’m sure you can imagine my “Queries” into WHY, WHY DO WE HAVE TO DO THIS??
    And, at the same time, I was “Fighting The Power” so to speak, which was my entire environment, my family, and, my so-called friends.
    I didn’t ask to “BE HERE”….but, as long as I am HERE, I think I deserve some reasonable answers, especially from those I trusted the most…but, “They Were All Always To Busy To Bother With A Kid That’s Always Asking; WHY”.

    I believe (now), that’s “Why God Was Watching Over Me” when I was a kid…..because no one else was.
    My father left my Mother with 6 kids when I was only 6 years old….so, my Mother acted more like my Father, and, ran out of patience too quickly to sit down to explain things to me. It was just “EASIER TO SMACK ME, THAN TO TEACH ME”.
    And, it remained that way all the way till I was 17 years old, when I finally had to “Stop her Physically”, by grabbing her hands, and telling her – “You’re NOT going to hit me anymore”!! I was much “stronger then”, and, she never touched me again, but, she also treated me even worse “Verbally” after that, even nearly 45 years later – today.

    I think it’s safe for me to say that “everyone around me were basic psychopaths”, and, the “rules of the street was – BEAT, OR GET BEATEN”……and that applied to even the smallest gestures, such as me saying; “isn’t it A Nice Day Today”?, and then me receiving a quick retort – “What’s so f**king nice about it”?? And, of course, that would lead to a bigger fight, until ultimately I always ended up getting “beaten again”……..round & round it went – especially at “FAMILY HOLIDAY GATHERINGS”, where everyone would “Shout Over The Other Person Speaking”, until it always came “To Blows”, I mean “Physical Fights”, destroying the lovely table settings, breaking furniture, cursing, and finally – stop talking to each other for years after that….only to do it all AGAIN, when we would ultimately get back together.
    It was an endless cycle of HATE, OPPRESSION, and DOMINATION, and ABUSE.

    Yes, it was then that “I Knew I Had God With Me”, even though “I Knew Nothing (literally) About Him”.
    Why?
    Because he always “Saved Me” right at the very moment when I could actually DIE. Not to mention the “Comfort He Gave To My Heart, And The Mercy On My Beaten Body”.
    I was always AMAZED at how quickly I could HEAL….that was my “First Sign” – that still happens today!!
    But, I also remember “Seeing Visions” ( I still do) suddenly appear on my walls, which would always make me smile, because I knew that I was the only one seeing them – that made me glad……that was something that was “Only Mine”, and no one could take it away from me…..I never even bothered to tell anyone about them ( I knew they would think I was crazy anyway, so, why tell them?)
    That was my own little world “Of Peace”, that I could go to anytime I wanted to.

    There were times when I should have died, or, at the very least, I should have been crippled for the rest of my life. Yet, somehow, I was “Always Saved”…..I never even bothered to ask “Why”?…..I already KNEW WHY…..because God was Watching Over Me – I knew that right away.

    For me, whenever God “Saved Me” from something horrible, it was the most “NATURAL THING IN MY LIFE”, because it was “So Frequent”….I thought to myself; “God Is Always With Me”, it was something I accepted as “A WAY OF LIFE”.

    When I was 13 years old, I was “RAN OVER BY TWO NYC TRANSIT BUSES AT THE SAME TIME”.
    The Front Wheels of the First Bus ran over “My Thighs”, and, the Front & Rear Wheels of the Second Bus Behind It Ran Over The SAME SPOT ON MY THIGHS……you could see the “Tire Tracks On My Thighs”. (just missed the crown jewels too).

    I ended up in the “Middle Of A Busy Street – 5th Avenue In Brooklyn, on 4th Street”, and there I was just sitting in the middle of the streets.
    I knew that something just happened to me, and I remember my “Arms Scrapping On The Tar Street”, and i felt a “Couple Of Minor BUMPS, or THUDS”….but, overall, “I FELT OKAY”.

    Realizing I was in the middle of the street, I “GOT UP AND WALKED TO THE SIDEWALK”, as I didn’t want to “Get Run Over”, and didn’t even know that “I Was Already Run Over”….so, I just WALKED AWAY.
    Before I knew it there were people all gathering around me, and they kept asking me; “ARE YOU OKAY, ARE YOU OKAY”??
    I kept telling them – “YES, I’M FINE, PLEASE – LEAVE ME ALONE”!!
    Someone called the Police I guess, and then the Cops asked me the same questions, and I said “I’m Fine”.
    Then the Cop tells me to “STAND UP AND WALK”…..I had no problem with that, as I knew I just walked to the sidewalk…So, I started to “STAND UP, AND I QUICKLY FELL BACK DOWN IN PAIN”…..The Cop said; “That’s It – We’re Taking You To The Hospital”….while in the Police car, i asked the Cop if I could rest my head on his shoulders as I felt kinda tired, he said “sure”, and then ‘I PASSED OUT”.
    I woke up in the Hospital, and I saw my Mother talking with the Doctor, and I heard him say to my Mother;
    “It’s Amazing That He Didn’t Break One Single Bone In His Body” ( Mind you, I still didn’t know I was RUN OVER).
    So, I said “Hi Mom”, and she smiled….the Doctor came over and asked me how I felt “I said; I feel okay”.
    Then the Doctor asked me if I could WALK….(I’m assuming they already took X-RAYS, and knew that “No Bones Were Broken”, and, I’m also guessing that they were more concerned to see if I was PARALYZED)…..so, I told him “Sure, I Can Walk”……He tells me to WALK…..
    So, I turn my legs towards the floor ( I was lying on a stretcher ), and I “TOUCHED THE FLOOR WITH MY FOOT, AND THE PAIN SHOT THROUGH ME LIKE BULLETS”, and I started to SCREAM “Ahhhhhh”.

    Yet, when it first happened I didn’t feel anything – “THAT WAS THE ANGELS STANDING OVER MY BODY PROTECTING ME FROM THE BUSES”.
    (I have countless other stories I can tell you.)

    He told me to lie down, and rest, and I ended up staying in the Hospital “FOR ONLY ONE WEEK”!!!
    ( I was actually healed in about 3 Days, but, I was FAKING IT SO I COULD STAY IN THE HOSPITAL, AND EAT ICE CREAM).

    They finally figured out that “I WAS FAKING”, when they saw me “Pushing The Other Kids In Their Wheel Chairs, While We Were Having Wheel Chair RACES”.

    The “Gig Was Up”, and I had to return home to my “Always Angry Mother”, and my crazy Brothers & Sisters, who were always Teasing Me.

    The Miracle Was Over.

    Conclusion…..as a Viet Nam Medic, and many times growing up, as well as my everyday life afterwards as a NYC Police Officer, my life was always “On the Line”, and I can’t even begin to count how many times “GOD SAVED ME”. If I tried to count the times I would go insane.
    It wasn’t until I was about 30 years old “WHEN I FINALLY READ THE BIBLE”.
    My Grandfather tried for years to get me to read it…..but, I kept telling him “I ALREADY KNOW & LOVE GOD GRANDPA”!!
    But…it was finally nice that “WE WERE FORMALLY INTRODUCED”.

    Today, i consider myself one of the most learned “Bible Chronologists”, and “Prophecy Interpreter”, not just because I’ve studied it in depth, but mostly because “IT WAS ALL REVEALED TO ME BY THE HOLY SPIRIT”, which has “Always Been With Me”, and I know is with EVERYONE, though some choose to ignore it.
    It’s that thing that makes your “Heart go fast when you’re about to do something you shouldn’t be doing, and it’s trying to tell you – don’t do this”….even if you were just going to meet your friends for a nice evening – “IT KNOWS SOMETHING WILL HAPPEN TO YOU, AND IT’S WARNING YOU”…you get that “Eerie Feeling, And You Feel Spooked, And You Get Chills Down Your Spine”……that happened a lot when I was a Cop!!

    When I was a a CHILD – “I Saw The World The Way It Was Supposed To Be”……today, all I see is weeping & sadness.
    God showed me when I was only 7 years old, what a wonderful world he made for us really is.
    That’s what I was seeing “On The Walls”….the beauty of the world, and the joy that God was feeling when he made it.
    That’s what made me keep asking “WHY IS IT LIKE THIS”??…..because that was the “Complete Opposite Of What God Was Showing Me”….I couldn’t understand WHY, and, I still don’t.
    But, at least now “I KNOW THAT IT WILL STOP” I Have God’s Promise, and I have God’s Love, which has always been with me, even though no one else cared about me at all….God was always “Guiding Me & Saving Me”.

    I just never knew WHY….until I read “His Holy Word”, now He has revealed all things to me – and it is GOOD!

    God Bless You Chris for giving us Your Testimony!!
    I hope you don’t mind that I shared some of mine.

    May God’s Love Be With You, And All Your readers, And All Those In The Body Of Christ.

    Love,
    Jerry 🙂

    • admin
      Posted at 09:48h, 23 June Reply

      Thanks for sharing Jerry!

  • Carter Thomas
    Posted at 03:50h, 25 August Reply

    A 8 year old girl was bold enough to invite me to church, this was my birthday gift to her. This spoke volumes to me! I had practiced Islam and had not been in a church service in over 12 years at that point in my life. I eventually ended up marrying this little girl’s mother, my wife today. The spirit of boldness can release the power of God to move, to save, heal and to deliver. I’m a living witness. Thank you Chris for your testimony.
    Peace and Blessings

    • admin
      Posted at 09:45h, 25 August Reply

      Great testimony Carter. Thanks for sharing! And thanks for reading!!!

  • Laura Rösler
    Posted at 04:21h, 22 September Reply

    A really touching story. Thanks for sharing these true words! Be blessed!

  • Renae Smith Crowe
    Posted at 01:38h, 24 September Reply

    I shared this with my son who once was a believer, but after years of college, and even prior to college he was becoming an unbeliever. He is a self-proclaimed atheist. He has his Ph.D in genetics now, and I am very proud of his education, but he is such a believer in science and that something has to be proved for it to exist…I know that someday God will open his eyes and ears.

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  • Antonio Richardson
    Posted at 22:14h, 06 October Reply

    Hi Chris, So happy for you that you found Christ. Seek and you shall find and you did.

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