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Oh the sweet irony of my story

By "Rudo" --

So my story is a pretty long and ironic one.

Let me address the irony part first. Back in January 2007, I posted on the forums as "Dom". I was a hardcore Christian at the time and I made a thread telling everyone why they left Christianity and basically being a jerk...and reading that thread makes me laugh and feel sad at the same time, because I literally do not know what I was thinking. I heard about a book called the "God Virus" by Darrel Ray and watching some YouTube videos on the subject, I swear religion brainwashes people.

Anyways....

I guess I could start off by saying I was raised as a Christian by my mother (single parent household). Church and God were always very important to her and she was to make sure I was raised in the same way.

I'm really thankful though that she wasn't a fundy and our lives were pretty normal. We just went to church and enjoyed the community. Being black and living in a black community especially meant that you were going to have God in your life in some form as well so most my friends were Christians and believed in God as well.

Around the 5th grade, my mom met and married a pastor and here began the real journey of my faith. The man she married had just started his own church and we leaped right in as part of his new church and new vision.

I was in church every Sunday and every bible study on Wednesday. The thing about it was that he was a strict disciplinarian and always put church above the family. I never felt close to him as a real father and his behavior patterns ultimately led to my mom leaving him (taking me along) right after my senior year in college.

Since I was involved heavily with helping his church, like the sound and taping, I still attended before I left for college.

They ultimately finalized the divorce and I haven't talked to my step-dad in years. His church failed mostly because of his strict attitude as even when members would join, after awhile they would ultimately be driven away. The church was your classic non-denominational speaking in tongues type of church and I was so happy to leave.

During my time there, I never really had any questions about my faith, and even when I left, I was not against the church in any way.

I went off to an HBCU (historically black college) in Virginia and really didn't attend church for my first three years there.

I battled some depression my junior year due to most of my friends transferring and I was quite the loner back then anyways.

During this time of depression, I figured that this was God's way of telling me that I needed to get back on track with him. I started getting interested in the endtimes and started reading forums such as Rapture Ready (smh).

When I got back home for the summer after my junior year I was more excited to attend the church my mother had been attending (and which I had been attending on my breaks back home from school).

This church was pretty cool and the pastor was what I would call a true example of what a pastor should act like. Much better than my step-dad. It also wasn't a fundy type of church with speaking in tongues and demons being cast out every Sunday either so that really appealed to me.

So fast forward to my fourth year in college (it took me five to graduate because I changed majors three times...finally settled on Graphic Design) I needed to find a church to keep my passion for God going.

It was the weekend before Halloween 2006 and a church in the area was having a lock-in. I decided to avoid the sinners at the parties that night and check it out.

On the church van on the way to the lock in, some of the members told us some things about the church and that even though you may hear people call the church a cult, it really isn't (don't know why this didn't throw up red flags for me then)

I ended up liking it (and noticing some cute girls as well... LOL) and came to church the very next day.

On Tuesday (Halloween Night), I went to the bible study and "rededicated my life" to God as I had found out I had not really been living as a true Christian should.

Here began my second journey into Christian Fundamentalism.

In my first year with this Non-Denominational Charismatic church, which was basically a ministry aimed at college students on my campus, I went to church every Sunday but not as many bible studies.I made a lot of good friends that year and I felt I was headed in the right direction with my faith.

That summer back home is when I got phone calls from my spiritual mentor at the church who was basically the leader for the men in the ministry (about a year younger than me)

He was a really on fire for God type and let me know that the upcoming school year was going to be ramped up at the church and that he wanted me to get more involved and that they really needed me seeing as I was going to be a senior.

The school year starts and sure enough I was way more involved than the year before and there was literally not one day where I wasn't involved with something with the church.

By the end of the school year, my schedule was as follows with the church:

Sunday: Church with the occasional "special service" aka deliverance service
Monday: Prayer with the men
Tuesday: General bible study
Wednesday: Men's bible study
Thursday: Life Group
Friday: All Night Prayer (though many time I didn't attend)
Saturday: Usually free, but if there was a "college night", I would basically be setting up all day

Rinse and repeat.

It did get very draining especially with school, but of course we were all doing this for the lord so it was all good.

Around October, I realized I started having feelings for a girl that I had been hanging around and talking to a lot at the church meetings. I had actually been friends with her since the year before but didn't notice her until we started spending more time around each other.

A beautiful girl from Barbados and a beautiful person inside as well. I talked to my spiritual mentor about it and he said of course to pray about it and see what the lord says (though I still don't see how you do this).

I prayed about it and got what I thought at the time were signs to pursue something (now I know they were just random things) and I talked to the pastor about pursuing a "courtship" with her.

He gave the OK and I mentioned it to her, and thus began our "courtship".

Now with the courtship, there is no dating, kissing, holding hands, long talks over the phone, and even hugging can be suggested as wrong. All of these could make you fall into..uh oh!! fornication.My schedule was as follows with the church:

Sunday: Church with the occasional "special service" aka deliverance service
Monday: Prayer with the men
Tuesday: General bible study
Wednesday: Men's bible study
Thursday: Life Group
Friday: All Night Prayer (though many time I didn't attend)
Saturday: Usually free, but if there was a "college night", I would basically be setting up all day
So this girl was really this first girl I really felt something for and we did not go on one date outside meeting for lunches at the school cafeteria.

Let me say that the church there had a way of not explicitly telling you not to do something but strongly suggesting it. It would be more along the lines of the pastor saying "hey I'm not saying you have to stop looking at worldly movies, but I know I don't want to harm my relationship with God...what about you?"

I look back on it now and get angered at some of the brainwashing there.

I still hadn't really had any questions about my faith then but I started getting a bit weirded out by some of the things going on there. Things like speaking in tongues were taken to a new level than my stepdads church from when I was younger, and the deliverance sessions especially.

There was one particular session on Super Bowl Sunday (I'm still mad I missed the Patriots losing to the Giants) where the guy doing the deliverance would tell of how he knew what demons were what and how he casted a demon out of one guy after putting his finger in his ear and feeling things biting at his finger. (WTF?)

I had brought new people into the church at this time and they were all with me as well. I felt that if anyone had a demon it would've been me because I was still struggling with lust and (you would too if the campus you lived on had a girl to guy ratio of 10:1!!)

But nothing happened to me during the session and even though I tried to convince myself that I was healed, I soon figured that I wasn't. This is when the first little bit of doubt creeped in.

This next part of the story is where things really get weird for me.

It was Spring Break 2008 and the church was having a "missions trip" to Atlanta. A couple which was brought up and sent out to start a branch in Atlanta were hosting the trip.

When we got there, the craziness ensued. There was praise and worship the very first night we got there (we were in a house) and after the long session was over, the leader wanted to know if everyone heard the angels playing harps in the room. Everyone said "yes! we heard them!" and were excited. I, on the otherhand heard nothing and I was standing there looking confused. I didn't hear a thing but the music the leaders were playing. I always wondered why everyone else heard things and I didn't.

The next few days were filled with long prayer sessions about abortion (lasted 4 hours!!) and feeding the homeless (no problem with that of course)

I actually missed feeding the homeless because after the long abortion prayer, something was not right with me. I felt like all my faith had been taken away. They were shouting at God during the prayer to stop abortion and people were praying in tongues like crazy.

But I was just standing there like wtf is going on? Why do I NOT want to do this or be involved with this?

I went off by myself after that and was crying because I felt like I didn't have any faith in God anymore. I then read Hebrews which reinforced my faith and I was good to go for the next day or so.

Next came the finale. It was the night before (or two days before) we had to leave and the leadership was determined to get everyone to speak in tongues.

The music started off the praise and worship and then just how every long prayer and tongues session starts off, the chorus and music just repeat over and over and over again. I could never understand this.

Anyways, we all get into a circle and one by one the leaders pray for everyone to speak in tongues. After a few people had started speaking in tongues, it was my turn. The guy started praying over me and I didn't feel anything.

So he ramped up the praying. Still nothing.

After feeling a bit pressured and hearing him say just speak what comes to your mind, I babbled out some syllables and just kept repeating them. I had the gift of tongues!! (I'm still embarrassed about it)

This whole tongues session lasted into the early morning...nearly 7 hours.

The next day we prayed over the house they just bought and in order to protect the house we prayed over refrigerators, bathtubs, rooms, porches, etc.

I felt so stupid doing this. It was like my rational mind was telling me that this is crazy, yet I didn't know what to do.

On the way back to the college, we prayed in tongues (and in normal language) all the way back. It felt like torture. I kept trying to figure out why I didn't want to do these things or why did these things freak me out and make no sense to me?

Anyways fastforward to graduation. I was still courting the girl from earlier and although I planned on staying at the church house for the summer, I was too freaked out by the spring break trip and by another instance of those happenings after the school year ended.

I came back home after only staying at the house for three days, because there was yet ANOTHER long praying in tongues session. After that night, I said ok, that's it, I'm packing my things and going back home tomorrow. Once back home finally started researching and asking questions. This was also the time of the infamous Todd Bentley foolishness so I was looking at that as well. Unfortunately, my questions didn't lead me out of it, but only to another more vile doctrine known as Calvinism.

It appealed to me because it seemed to make more sense, and most Calvinists didn't believe in tongues and God speaking to them all the time.

Two of my friends from the same church actually started going down this path at the same time as well.

This was very hard as now I knew that although I was trying to come back to the church, I knew I had to leave (my two friends left as well). This ultimately led to the girl I was courting breaking it off. This hit hard as even though technically she could've been called my girlfriend, we never went out on one date or anything and I really never got to spend time with her or get to know her OUTSIDE of the damn church setting.

The one girl in my life who I actually thought I was going to marry cut it off....because I left a church. It still kind of angers me to this day of how religion can divide people.

Anyways I get into Calvinism and after working in my field and getting laid off, I decided I would head off to Korea to teach English for a year. I left in April of 09 and when I got there it was awesome. I met many people from all over and for the first time, many different backgrounds.

One of the things about the black community is that nearly EVERYONE holds to some form of Christianity. So going to a black college and a fundy/charismatic church at the same time had most of my inner circle as christians.

In Korea I made friends who held no religion, were Buddhists, or they just believed in God without any ind of religion.

It was then when the questions which I had brushed under the rug all those past years came back to me full force. I realized I believed that these people would burn in hell for simply not believing in Christ. And with my view of Calvinism at the time, I was believing that maybe they never had a chance in the first place.

I went off into universalism after studying the origins of hell, then figured that didn't make any sense either. I started asking more questions and researching and started thinking clearly again.

Noah's Ark? Cmon now.

Animals talking?

But besides the obvious things, I started researching where the gospels came from and found out that they were written well after Christ supposedly died. I mean this didn't mean that it didn't happen, but 40-50 years after it happened? How much was added to the story since it's origin? (Listened to a bit of Bart Erhman's talks as well)

I started reading this site a bit more and watching youtube videos of Hitchens, TAE, and Infidel Guy.

As of right now I think I may be Deist/Agnostic/radnom combination of whatever...I heard that some people go through different phases on their way out.

Right now it can be very frustrating reading facebook statuses as most of my friends are christian, so if I were to post something celebrating my new view, the reaction would be such a drag.

The people that know right now are my mother and my pastor. My mother actually took it quite well and said we all have to search and find our path and that she's been in my position before. My pastor and I are still on good terms and we've had a few discussions on my views.

I'm still not ready to "come out" so to speak, but I figure if someone randomly comes across this, they will find out who I am...and that's fine.

So here I am, ready to head back to South Korea to teach again, looking forward to what's ahead, and not wasting this short life. Thanks for reading.


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