Making an Introduction
How do you meet God? How can you start a relationship with God? The Curiosity Collective brings together thought leaders, subject matter experts, pastors, and theologians who share the stories of their journeys to faith.
Questions for Discussion and Personal Reflection
- In what ways can you identify with any of the stories in this video? What did you find intriguing or compelling?
- What do you think when you hear the term “Christianity”? What about the term “Christ-follower”? Do the two mean something different to you?
I was raised in the Northeast by my mom— just me, my mom, and my little sister— raised in what they would call the "ghetto." Uh... prostitution was in our neighborhood, uh, drugs. I'm so old now, they didn't really call them "gangs" back then; they were "posses" at that point in time, but, uh, but nonetheless people were acting foolish, doing, doing all kinds of crazy things. My dad wasn't around, uh, when I was growing up. So my mom one day is doing a girlfriend's hair in our, in our apartment, and there was this coworker she had named Caesar and he was always inviting her to church. So, uh, so one Sunday morning, he shows up and he knocks on the door, and my mom's nickname is "Peaches." That's actually what I, I usually call her as well. He says, uh— she lets him in— "Peaches, uh, you gonna come to church with me today?" and my mom starts hemming and hawing and saying, No, I'm doing my girlfriend's hair. I can't do it. I can't go today. Uh... and Caesar says, "I'll wait." We showed up to church late that day, and, uh... I was in this place where they had puppets, and they were talking about Jesus, and they were offering kids Fritos and Doritos and uh, they, they asked if, if you are interested in Jesus coming into your heart, uh, you know, raise your hand, and I thought that sounds like a great idea so I'm, I'm seven years old and they're offering Fritos and Jesus so why not? That just seems to be a match made in heaven to me, and went forward, got my Fritos, got my Jesus, and, and went on home. Um... but that was the start of the journey for me. It didn't end there. Uh, as I continued to grow and, uh, and develop, my dad still was not involved in my life, um, very, very sporadic at best, and uh, other men in the church actually would come and they'd pick me up on, on Saturdays and they'd take me to, to meetings at the church or they'd take me to my basketball games, my football practice, and uh, really helped put me on a path, um, where I could understand what, what it means to, to live a life of integrity and, and character. I— I have not been, been perfect at all. I've, you know, walked down some, some some roads that I wish I would not have gone down and made some decisions I wish I wouldn't have made. But throughout that entire process, um, the message of, of grace: me, uh... me getting something that I don't deserve, uh, don't deserve this, this love and this forgiveness, and this mercy, um, but that message found its way into my heart, so as I continue to grow and develop, I think there are multiple times that I grab some Fritos and let this guy named Jesus into my heart. And now I'm married with a beautiful wife and a beautiful family. I, I have not yet figured everything out. I still have of a lot of questions, a lot of things I don't understand. Um... you know, my, my oldest son struggles with asthma. Sorry about that. So there are a few things I still don't get, but I'm thankful that I am starting to understand grace a little bit more. And even in my questions, I still experience uh, this unconditional, authentic love that I'm trying to share with as many people, uh, as possible. Sorry about the tears, man. My kids can get me. Yeah.
Well, my story is, um, a pretty messy story of finding God. As a young girl, my view of God was that God just was a whole bunch of rules and if you follow the rules, then you were good at your religion, and if you were good at your religion, then maybe God would let you go to Heaven one day, so that was my, that was kind of my view, and so I thought, ok, I'll, I'll try this so I tried to follow the rules and tried to have this religion, and, um, I failed. I failed miserably. I carried a lot of hurt in my teenage years. I had been horribly abused by someone in our family, and I had a dad that rejected me, said that, um, he never really wanted children, especially not a girl. There were little moments of fun and happiness, but gosh, I was so broken. So, so broken. Then one day I found out I was pregnant and I was alone and I was devastated. I was so, so, so afraid. I knew that this would bring a lot of shame on my family, and so I decided to have an abortion and I, I knew the minute that I woke up from the anesthesia, I, I knew they'd taken my baby, but it was as if they had ripped out part of my heart, too. I went home after that and I laid on the little couch in my little apartment and I cried out to, to this God that I wasn't really even sure was there and I just said you know, "I, I really stink at at anything religious. I, I really stink at following the rules. I, I think I pretty much stink at life in general, so if there is a God and if you are there, just have mercy on me and let me die because the pain is, is so deep." I wanted this booming voice to come out of the sky and just say, I am God, and you're gonna be okay, but I didn't hear anything. I have this friend in my life. She was always giving me Bible verses and she gave me this verse one time, Jeremiah 29:11, "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you, not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future,'" and... I couldn't believe it at first, but after I read the verse over and over and over and over and over again, something inside of me just clicked and I realized maybe I wasn't, maybe I wasn't the throw-away person that I always thought that I had been, and maybe following God didn't mean that I had to perfectly follow the rules. Like, maybe that's not really what it's all about. Maybe loving God means accepting his love for me. I didn't know the right things to pray, I didn't know the right things to do. I just knelt down in my little apartment, and I lifted up my hand, and for the very first time, I just said, Yes, God. Yes. Yes. Yes, if you, if you want me and if you love me then I want to accept that love. One day I realized that my sense of self-worth really is in what God has already done for me, that God has already established such a pattern of love for me. I mean, God loves me when I'm good and God loves me when I'm not so good and in the deepest place in my heart, I believe that.
Growing up, just, I, I saw God kind of as this police officer in the sky. He was waiting to, uh, judge me for anything that I did wrong. You know, don't watch R-rated movies, and don't, don't do drugs, don't get drunk, uh... don't stay out past curfew, and don't have sex, and… when I went to, to college, the first week I had broke every single one of those rules in epic proportions. I remember I was saying my prayers one night as I always had and, and asking God just to be with me and to protect me and to bless me and, and I started crying, just weeping hysterically all by myself in this little twin-sized bed on campus and, uh, uh, I realized that it didn't seem like anyone was listening. And so I reached out to someone and I just said, Hey," you know, and I just confessed all my sins to them, and, and we weren't even that that close but I just said, "Hey, this is everything that I've done wrong in the past seven days." And they said, "Oh, that's, that's kind of college. That's what you do, and you know, afterward you may take an interest into God." And... it was bad advice, but it was prophetic in a sense of, of after college I, I moved, uh, to Dallas and now was in the big city, and I was at this bar on a Saturday night and, um, I bumped into a friend that I knew from college and just said, "Hey, what you doing this weekend?" and she said, "Well, I'm gonna go check out this this church tomorrow," and I said, "Cool, pick me up. My church sucks" is what I said, and, uh, she did and and I went, uh, with her— and she kinda exits the story— every Sunday, I kept going, and I would sit in the back, was hungover, and I would often smell like smoke from the, the night before and there was just something around the truth and the authority that the guy up there had and the, and the way that he read from the Scriptures like he believed it. And so I said— I, I believed in that moment that there was a God— I was, like, "I gotta find out who he is," and, and and really my bias was against Christianity. I thought, what are the odds that I'd be born into America where you know, a lot of people are Christian. Like, if I was born in India, I'd be Hindu. If I was born in Iran, I'd be Muslim. If, if I was born in, in Jordan, I might be Jewish and, and yet China, I'd be Buddhist. And so I started looking at, at the world religions and looking at other faiths with— really with a bias against Christianity and I looked at you know, Mormons, Jehovah's Witness, Church of Christian Science, Scientology, and I kept coming back to this character, Jesus Christ. Um... and, and I started wrestling with this idea: did he really live? He's the most polarizing character in the history of the world. I've, I've now been in the jungles of Africa and, and they know of Jesus. I've been in the jungles of the Amazon on a boat, you know, for, for over a week and get off and, and somebody knew about Jesus there, and uh, you know, people love him, people hate him, people get uncomfortable when you say his name. And so I just kept coming back to the character of Jesus and every, every religion out there that I looked at they would acknowledge that, that he existed and even some of the most renowned atheists of today would acknowledge that he existed I just continued to wrestle with why, why was he so polarizing? Why do people now millions and millions, maybe billions of people gather in his name, um, when he just kind of invested in 11 guys? And so as I wrestled with that, I realized that he had, had died for me and that Christianity wasn't really this list of rules that I had to obey and that God wasn't in Heaven kind of waiting to rip me off— that, that he loved me, that he's crazy about me, and that he had sent His Son to set me free. And, uh, when that truth hit my, my heart, uh, when it came alive in me, just everything began to change, that my, my friends changed, my, where I, what I did for fun changed, who who I hung out with, and who I did those things with, all of that changed kind of overnight.