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Just to get it off my chest

By an Ex-missionary ~

I'd like to tell my story here. I just need to tell it. To get it off my chest. I am from Brazil and English is not my first language, so I ask who may read it not to judge my grammar.

I lost my faith. I really don't know if I would define myself as an atheist or agnostic. Right now, it just doesn't seem important. Here goes my story...

I became a Christian when I was fifteen (I am 26 now) and at the age of nineteen I was totally committed to the Christian faith, so I decided to become a missionary.

My parents were also Christians (they still are) and they supported me. I was studying math at College, but I quit to go to Missions.

I went to a State 600 Km far from mine to take a missionary school named (Discipleship Training School) DTS from a Mission named YWAM (JOCUM in Brazil).

After the training, which was very superficial and fast, only five months, I started as a missionary at YWAM, kind of a rookie missionary though, so my work was basically to keep close to the more experienced missionaries and do stuff like help to clean the Mission, teach math in a social program, tell my testimony at churches and talk about Jesus in order to convert people (share the gospel like door to door or with terrible street plays)

I have always liked reading and learning, and YWAM usually encourages its missionaries to take more courses after the basic DTS, so I ended up taken a biblical course to learn more about the bible and I also had the opportunity to study English in Canada, at YWAM too, that's why I can make this account.

I spent six years in YWAM, from 19 to 25. In those six years I lived in poor conditions sharing rooms with many people, sometimes with very annoying people by the way. But I didn't care at first, because I was so enthusiastic about being a missionary.

Naturally as the time passed, the enthusiasm faded, and I began to question my life, my mission, and even my faith.

Many people who get out of the missionary field manage to keep their faith. Many become pastors or leaders in their churches, but I couldn't do any of it, for two basic reasons.

1 - I was totally tired of Church stuff. Gospel music, speeches, books, everything. I couldn't stand to stay in a Church for minutes, let alone hours. (I still can't)

2 - I started to question Christianity and the Bible. I studied a lot. I did not get a theology degree, but I read a lot. I read the bible 5 times in those 6 years and many books. Luther, Calvin, Karl Barh, C.S. Lewis, Stott, Piper, Norman Geisler, all these people, I read all these authors, and the more I read the more my doubts grew. the question is: None of them really give good answers to the contradictions of the bible and, even worse in my opinion, the contradictions of life. Suffering, misery, corruption, injustice, and all the filth of the world that we all know very well. I live in Brazil and I see these things everyday, I also have been to Africa , once, as a missionary, I went to Guinea Bissau, things there are really horrifying, like, people eating cookies made of clay because of the hunger.

I started to question Christianity and the Bible. I studied a lot.The point is, I lost my faith in a God who cares, who acts, I lost my faith in the bible, I lost my faith in the Church and in all religions there are.

When I realized that I had no way to keep at the church I saw myself in a very difficult situation. I was 25. Only high school educated and had never worked in a "real job", so, you can imagine my curriculum. How could I get a job? What would I do with my life? It was the end of 2012 and it was a time of deep conflict in my mind.

I told my family that I would focus on studying and making a different life. They are religious, but not fanatical, so I had no problems with them, although, I didn't tell them I was no longer a believer, I just said that I didn't want to be a missionary anymore. My problem was really what I said in the last paragraph. Being 25, poorly educated, unemployed, from a middle class family and with a work history of a missionary, which is only useful if you want to work for a church, what was not an option for me.

I quit YWAM in January 2013 and had nowhere to go. Luckily I learned English, so I could find a job as an English teacher, which is what I do now, I teach English to kids and teenagers. I also managed to get back to College, In Brazil the best universities are public and therefore free, however, it is not easy to get in, you have to pass an exam with many competitors. I am studying languages and English literature, so, I am studying and teaching now. I didn't return to my parents house, Thanks "god", I made some new friends and I share an apartment with them now. I don't even live in my parent's city, I am at the city 600 km far from them where I took that first missionary school.

Now I see my life going somewhere and I am positive about my future. I am struggling hard to make it up for the wasted years when I was living alienated from the real world, but it is not easy. Some people who started math with me are getting their PhDs now and I am still a graduating student. Not all of them kept studying for an academic career of course, but most of them are more financial stable than I am right now and I feel frustrated because I could be in a better situation.

My life today is not easy, and I blame no one because I know that it is the result of my past decisions. I am not here to complain, or judge anyone or anything, I wrote all this because I wanted to share this experience.

I am 26 years old now, and I will graduate probably at the age of 29. I intend to pursue an academic career, so I will have to study and work for a bit longer yet, but I am happy that I found myself doing something that I like and that can give me more stability in the future.

My family knows that I don't go to any church, but they think I am still a believer. I don't intend to tell them theses things now, but I know that the day will come. However, it's a problem "for future Pedro" (to cite How I met your mother, one of my favorite series)

I am happy that I wrote it here. I don't know if it will help anyone, but the fact that I wrote already helped myself.

One last thing. I don't miss the church. I don't miss missions or the bible. I don't feel guilty, I feel free. And it is what matters to me now.

But, sometimes I miss the feeling of having a relationship with God. I hope he exists and that he will clean all the mess there is in this world, but I don't think about it everyday, and it is only a hope, not a certainty anymore.

That's it! Sorry for any grammar mistake. I know that I should know this stuff since I work with it, but I speak better than I write, so, it's something :D