As I began to go into shock, I heard a shot close by and felt a body collapse on top of me. Blood ran over me, and I tried to crawl out from underneath it. When I got free, I looked back and could see it was an old man who the police had killed. Then I passed out. When word of the violence spread, my relatives raced to every clinic and hospital searching for me (Xolani had made it out ok). They couldn’t find me, and assumed I’d been killed.
I wanted to say thank you for releasing “Questioning Christianity” as a podcast. It has been a very long road to finally “understanding” Christianity and by long, I mean 16 years of deeply pondering these claims. That finally happened last week once I got through this podcast.
“No” she said, “you don’t understand.” She was right, as always. I did not understand grace. And then in the space of maybe a minute or so G launched into this exposition of God’s promise of forgiveness in the Bible. I don’t remember exactly what words she chose, but I know she said that God loved me and that all I had ever done and even all that I might continue to do that was wrong, it could all be forgiven.
Little did I know that, all along, God had been actively pursuing me and calling me to Himself. That book of yours helped me to grasp who Jesus really is, what He really did, and what it actually meant for me. I came to realize that there was not only a different God out there than I had constructed for myself, but that there was also plenty of good evidence to consider the claims of Christianity as sound.
We pulled up to the emergency entrance after days of vomiting while my blood pressure took a nose-dive. I tested positive, resulting in instant banishment into a quarantined room. I pulled out the computer from my backpack and spent three hours asking individuals, community groups, and church prayer lines to pray for me.
On May 3rd, we will begin a new special Podcast series — Questioning Christianity with Tim Keller — specifically designed for people who are exploring Christianity, but don’t yet have a personal faith in Christ.
So long as I persisted in trying to write my own agenda for life, based on my wishes, I met with frustration— so many of my longings simply weren’t going to be fulfilled— not yet, anyway. But whenever I accepted God’s agenda for me (and surely that’s what’s implied in saying “Jesus is Lord”), life became not only bearable but fruitful in unexpected ways. What I perceived as my prison became a field rich with opportunities for knowing and serving Christ.
My coming to faith has been a gradual journey—at first being quite resistant to the idea, then selectively choosing what to learn from the sermons, and then at some point, my heart opened to God at an accelerated pace. It has been a few years since the first Sunday I stepped into a Redeemer service in NYC, and I am in awe as I never thought I would become a follower of Christ, let alone tell others about my newly found faith. I am truly grateful to have a new identity in Christ!
Following my parents to board a plane to move to the opposite side of the world made it clear that our life isn’t all about me, and that my own desires were not our family’s center of gravity. This act of unsolicited submission proved to be crucial to my future discipleship; it gave me an experiential understanding of myself in relation to God.
My wife has spent almost 30 years in constant and often unbearable pain. And for many Christians, this just doesn’t fit with the faith they’ve been taught in church. For them, Christianity is about overcoming, not about enduring. It’s about dreams coming true, not shattered dreams. And it’s certainly not about persistent suffering.