Former Atheist Testifies

I Was Once A Bible-defined Fool

During high school and college years (1950-57) I was part of a Methodist Youth Fellowship which was noteworthy for fellowship but a total loss for spiritual growth. When the director of the Wesley Fellowship at UCLA (where I majored in Theater Arts and specialized in Motion Pictures) was asked if a person could truly "know God." He replied, "No."

As I didn't know any better (the Bible was a closed book to me at the time, and I thought the director should know what he was talking about), I angrily concluded that if a person truly could not know God, that would have to mean that God did not actually care -- and if He did not care, then why should I? This was maybe the worst decision I have ever made, and sometime later I concluded that if there was a God, He would have to love (and care), but since I wasn't aware of any evidence of God's love, there really could not be a God after all.

So I became an atheist. I became increasingly cynical, very sarcastic, could 90% of the time reduce any person's opinion (or belief system) to ashes through that cynicism, sarcasm and an adroit use of logic. The passing years increased this almost exponentially.

US ARMY (1958-62) The very few people who tried to tell me of God's love I ate up and spat out - or ran away from and avoided. The Army trained me in counterintelligence work and sent me overseas to Munich, Germany ('60-62). I loved the opportunity to experience the various cultures as much as I could. This later proved useful on the mission field.

After my discharge, I returned to the States and got involved in things I should not have, sinking deeper and deeper into a rut of being involved in self-destructive activities. I was a sophist -- for me there was no such thing as truth, or good and evil.

I was also becoming manic-depressive, losing control over my life. At one point, I felt myself literally losing control of my mental stability, and in the privacy of my apartment cried out desperately for "help." To whom? There was no one else there. But nevertheless I felt a Power reach into my life and heal me so I could adequately function again. With that came the warning: "Next time will be destruction." Well, there was a "next time." But I was still in the rut.

The Bible Is Final Spiritual Authority

I remembered the warning, quit my job, hid out in my house in Simi Valley, CA and began perusing the books I had in my personal library in a desperate attempt to find a solution to my ruined life.

Finally came across a book I had purchased some time before: Written by a Jewish psychologist, the first half dealt with psychological problems. That helped me so much I went on to read the 2nd half -- and discovered this Jew had a worldwide recognized ministry to atheists. His book put the possibility of God's existence back into my life after so many years, and that night I prayed sincerely for the first time in my life (7/25/69 - at the age of 34), "If you are really there, God, please come into my life and help set it straight. I've ruined it."

I felt something touch me, and the next day experienced memory crashing down upon memory of all the wrongs I'd committed in my life against others, so much so that that night I cried out, "God, I know about all this -- but what do I do about it?" For the first time in my life God spoke to me and said, "Get acquainted with My Son." Some time later I learned that this in itself was a direct refutation of what the director of that Wesley Fellowship had said (that you can't know God) John 17:3.

My life With God

The only way I knew how to get acquainted with God's Son, Jesus, was to read the Bible, which I did for 8 hours a day -- 3 translations together. The Bible opened up for me like a beautiful flower and the person of Jesus became so real I felt I could go around a corner and bump into him. I became a new creation in Christ, old things passed away. Behold, all things became new. (2 Cor. 5:17)

When my cousin and his wife heard of it, the first thing they did was to get me involved with them in youth ministry at their church. That quickly expanded into ministry on the street and in our homes. We founded a ministry to the troubled youth in our area -- which had the 4th worst drug problem in the US. There was also teen prostitution, delinquency, etc., and even a number of witches covens. We opened a coffee house in an extra troubled section of town, and quickly found the local police on our side as they told us the crime rate was dropping because of what God was doing through us. We opened our homes and let some of the youths live with us as we ministered to them. My cousin opened his home to the girls, I opened mine to the boys.

God made it clear to me I was to quit the career I had become involved in, and be taken by him onto the mission field He would indicate. I prayed, "God, I don't know what You have in mind exactly, but if you could work some travel in, I sure would like that." I really did like to travel! The next 15 years, God moved me about 35 times. My first mission involvement was in Navajoland, AZ for 6 months or so. Then off to Switzerland for more than a year's involvement in L'Abri -- a Christian community ministering to whomever the Lord would bring from various parts of the world.

Back to the States in 1975, where I began attending seminary in CA. But I had not been there for a year when God opened the door for me to go back to Europe, live in Holland and work with a ministry involved in ministering to the Christians in communist eastern Europe -- smuggling Bibles, other literature, medicine, etc.

This continued on with yet another ministry doing the same kind of work -- except I was living in Austria, and for quite a bit of my stay there ran the office and made the trips by myself into the various communist countries. I was also driving over much of western Europe as well as eastern -- even up into Scandinavia a number of times.

In the early '80s returned to the States, where I have been involved here and there as the Lord would have me. I'm in the SF bay area as a result of a vision God gave me in '83 (He brought me here 9 years later). The vision concerned His hand of judgment on San Francisco because of the stench of its sin. So I have been involved with a street evangelism ministry here ...

But in the interim God gave me about 8 years of living in the Monterey-Carmel area, as answer to prayer when I was living and working alone in Austria (itself a "picture postcard perfect" area). There in Pacific Grove, I was given the opportunity to (interim) pastor a church for a brief time.

Here based in Oakland, God has had me involved in various adventures -- taking me once across the country to the east coast to look up a person I had not seen or been in touch with for 37 years. With God's help, I found her in 5 days.

As He gave me a vision regarding SF (a vision that left me crying out for its inhabitants), so He also gave me one for Washington, D.C., where I'm sure He'll resettle me in His timing.

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