Thursday, April 12, 2007

Against all Odds but God's

Her long, straight, dark blonde hair frames a face with serious and sincere eyes. She is one of the young people of Canada--who grew up singing a national anthem with the lines--God keep our land glorious and free! O Canada, we stand on guard for thee--but learned nothing of God as she grew up, and had only scorn for those who believed.

Like many young people, Jennifer had dabbled in paganism and the occult--nothing serious--just curiosity--but she thought Christianity really stupid. A history major, she knew that religion, including Christianity, had been the catalyst for much trouble and inhumanity over the centuries. Besides, she had never met anyone who could defend the Christian faith. There was one girl in high school who believed, "But," she said, "We could all talk circles around her."

Her mother and sister had a nominal faith. They believed in God, but didn't practice their faith in any way--they didn't go to church or read the Bible. They were probably typical of another cross section of Canadian society, who would call themselves Christians if asked. Her parents are divorced and her father is an atheist.

Yet Jennifer is currently part way through her studies for a Master of Divinity degree and involved in pastoral ministry to disadvantaged youth. What happened to change the course of her life?

A year and a half ago, Jennifer was engaged to be married and living with her fiance, when over the course of six months, without being around Christians, the Holy Spirit rolled away the stone that had been over her heart. She was working in a bookstore when one day a young woman came to her cash register with a New Testament "Bible-zine" entitled, Becoming. Jennifer asked, "What is this?"--she didn't know whether to punch it in as a book or a magazine (the tax would be different depending on which it was).

"It's a New Testament," the girl said.
"Okay..." said Jennifer.
"Yeah, you should get one."

Jennifer did get one and read it. She found it an interesting format, with the many side-bars. Next she found a copy of Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis and read that too. Since she was preparing to be married, she was thinking about children. She wasn't sure she wanted to bring children into the world, but she thought that if she had children, it would be good to take them to church. She thought they would learn good moral teachings and how to be good human beings. So she started visiting churches.

Meanwhile, Jennifer's fiance didn't want to go to church with her and was openly antagonistic. As Jennifer continued to listen to the Word of God being preached, she began to realize that if what she was reading and hearing was true--as she was beginning to believe it was--she needed to make some changes in her life. She broke off her engagement and moved home to live with her mother.

Jennifer's mother began to attend church with her and her faith began to come alive. Her sister also moved back home and while she initially preferred to sleep in on Sunday mornings, she gradually started attending church regularly. Both Jennifer's mother and sister are now involved in church ministry.

Jennifer's boyfriend now is a pastor. Her father (the atheist) will visit church when her boyfriend is preaching.

As she concluded her story Jennifer said, "I often think of that girl in high school who tried to tell us why she believed. I'm sorry for how we treated her and would love to tell her that."

A soul's journey--against all odds--but God's.

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