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My Faith: Returning to church, despite my doubts
Andrea Palpant Dilley as a child with her missionary family Kenya.
May 5th, 2012
10:00 PM ET

My Faith: Returning to church, despite my doubts

Editor's note: Andrea Palpant Dilley is the author of “Faith and Other Flat Tires.”

By Andrea Palpant Dilley, Special to CNN

During my junior year in college, I took a butter knife from my mother’s kitchen  and scraped the Christian fish decal off the back bumper of the Plymouth hatchback I’d inherited from my older brother. Stripping off that sticker foreshadowed the day, a few years later, that I would walk out of church.

The reasons for my discontent were complicated. By most standards, I had a healthy childhood.  I grew up the daughter of Quaker missionaries in a rural Kenyan community that laid the foundation for my faith. I spent the rest of my childhood in the Pacific Northwest, raised in a stable Presbyterian church that gave me hymns and mission trips and potluck dinners.

I was surrounded by smart, conscientious Christians, the kind of people who read 19th century Russian novels and took meatloaf to firefighters when much of eastern Washington state went up in flames in the fall of 1991.

When I started into my skeptic phase, my Christian community gave me space to struggle. They listened to my doubts about faith. They took my questions seriously.

And yet when I turned 23 I left the church.

Listening to a sermon at my older brother’s church one Sunday, I stood up, leaned over to my father and said, “This is bulls**t.” I made my way to the end of the pew and marched out of the sanctuary. The sermon didn’t sit right with me. The pastor was preaching about Psalm 91, saying in so many words that a person just needed to pray and have faith in order to be protected from suffering.

More than just that sermon, I was sick of church. I was sick, too, of all the spiritual questions plaguing me: Why does the church seem so culturally insulated and dysfunctional? Why does God seem distant and uninvolved? And most of all, why does God allow suffering?

These questions didn’t come out of nowhere. I’d spent time in high school volunteering in refugee camps in Kenya and in college working with families on welfare in central Washington. I saw hungry babies. I walked into homes that were piled with garbage and dirty laundry.

In an orphanage in the slums of Nairobi, I held AIDS babies and worked with disabled kids who’d been left at the front gates of the orphanage by parents who couldn’t afford to feed them. I saw things that I couldn’t make sense of as a Christian.

Walking out of church was a way of saying “To hell with it; I’m done.”

For two years, I skipped church. My Bible gathered dust on the shelf. The local bars became my temples. I indulged in the cliché rebellions of a Christian girl, smoking cigarettes and drinking hard alcohol. I got involved with men twice my age without thinking twice about it.  I wanted a break from being “good.”

And then, strangely, I woke up one morning at age 25, climbed into my car, and drove downtown to attend a 10 a.m. church service. I won’t relate here the whole story of how I came back to the church. But if I had to follow the standard testimonial narrative for Christians, the script for my life story would go something like this:

Step 1: Grow up in a Christian church.

Step 2: Go off to college away from said church.

Step 3: Be exposed to the enticements of secular life.

Step 4: Try drugs and cigarettes and Pearl Jam.

Step 5: Leave the church because of aforementioned enticements.

Step 6: Experience epiphany; realize vapidness of secular enticements.

Step 7: Return to church with penitent heart.

Step 8: Reestablish faith, discover good living.

In reality, I left the church more because of my own internal discontent than the lure of so-called secular life. When I came back, I still carried that same discontent. I was confused, and still bothered by questions and doubts. I stayed in the back row and didn’t sing or pray. I wasn’t really sure I wanted to be there.

And yet I sat there, Sunday after Sunday, listening to the pastor and the organ pipes and trying to figure out what was going on in my dark, conflicted heart.

Although I never experienced that dramatic reconversion moment, I did come to peace with two slow-growing realizations.

First: My doubt belonged in church.

People who know my story ask what I would have changed about my spiritual journey. Nothing. I had to leave the church to find the church. And when I came back, the return wasn’t clean or conclusive. Since then, I’ve come to believe that my doubts belong inside the space of the sanctuary. My questions belong on the altar as my only offering to God.

With all its faults, I still associate the church with the pursuit of truth and justice, with community and shared humanity. It’s a place to ask the unanswerable questions and a place to be on sojourn. No other institution has given me what the church has: a space to search for God.

Second: My doubt is actually part of my faith.

In Mark 9:24, a man says to Jesus, “I believe, help my unbelief.” The Catholic writer Flannery O’Connor called this the foundation prayer of faith. I pray that prayer often and believe that God honors my honesty.

I also believe God honors my longing. The writer and theologian Frederick Buechner said “Faith is homesickness.” C.S. Lewis called it “Sehnsucht,” a longing for a far-off country. I feel that sense of unshakable yearning. It comes from the deepest part of my heart, a spiritual desire that’s strangely, mysteriously connected to my doubt.

Sitting in church every Sunday, my doubt is my desire – to touch the untouchable, to possess the presence of God.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Andrea Palpant Dilley.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Church • Opinion

soundoff (3,753 Responses)
  1. joseph

    The mistake most people make that leads to their disillusionment is mistaking a war zone as a normal state of existence. Somewhere along the line they ceased being participants in this war and set up shop intent on being spectators. But everyone knows there are no safe spectators in a war. If you do not make a decision concerning who you will fight for, you will be trampled over by the combatants.

    June 18, 2012 at 10:43 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      What are you babbling about.

      June 18, 2012 at 10:45 pm |
  2. kindness

    I Follow Christ . I never wanted proof. I just had faith.

    HE WHO follows Me, walks not in darkness,” says the Lord (John 8:12). By these words
    of Christ we are advised to imitate His life and habits, if we wish to be truly enlightened and
    free from all blindness of heart. Let our chief effort, therefore, be to study the life of Jesus
    Christ.
    The teaching of Christ is more excellent than all the advice of the saints, and he who
    has His spirit will find in it a hidden manna. Now, there are many who hear the Gospel often
    but care little for it because they have not the spirit of Christ. Yet whoever wishes to understand
    fully the words of Christ must try to pattern his whole life on that of Christ.

    What good does it do to speak learnedly about the Trinity if, lacking humility, you
    displease the Trinity? Indeed it is not learning that makes a man holy and just, but a virtuous
    life makes him pleasing to God. I would rather feel contrition than know how to define it.
    For what would it profit us to know the whole Bible by heart and the principles of all the
    philosophers if we live without grace and the love of God? Vanity of vanities and all is vanity,
    except to love God and serve Him alone.

    This is the greatest wisdom—to seek the kingdom of heaven through contempt of the
    world. It is vanity, therefore, to seek and trust in riches that perish. It is vanity also to court
    honor and to be puffed up with pride. It is vanity to follow the lusts of the body and to desire
    things for which severe punishment later must come. It is vanity to wish for long life and
    to care little about a well-spent life. It is vanity to be concerned with the present only and
    not to make provision for things to come. It is vanity to love what passes quickly and not
    to look ahead where eternal joy abides.
    Often recall the proverb: “The eye is not satisfied with seeing nor the ear filled with
    hearing.”1 Try, moreover, to turn your heart from the love of things visible and bring
    yourself to things invisible. For they who follow their own evil passions stain their consciences
    and lose the grace of God.

    See for yourself. You will be on a battlefield for christ

    June 18, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
  3. John

    Hello my name is John and I have a true story to tell you about something that happened to me.

    Everyone please pray for my family and I to receive all the graces and necessary tools for me to complete God's will. Also continue to pray for me to have the strength to keep going to church and say my prayers daily. Pray for protection for my family and myself from evil and the evil one.

    Again I would like to remind you that anyone can reprint handout or forward my story just please use the story as it is, don-t modify or change it.

    I need your prayers, whether they are short or long and complicated I am in a fight for my soul absolutely everything is appreciated. I thank you for your time and consideration and will carry each and every one of you in my prayers.

    Finally I would like to remind that no response is necessary to me, and no donations please ... This is for God and my soul is far more valuable than anything else.

    MY STORY

    One day I became tired of my life. My wife and I continued to fight and I was fed up with all the bull so I decided to kill myself. I took a whole bunch of pills. I passed out in the restroom. The ambulance/fire department showed up and they worked on me and rushed me to the emergency room. I died and they were attempting to revive me at the hospital.

    The next thing I remember was that I started floating up and I could see them working on my body. Then I thought about my family and in and instant I was there with them, they were crying and mad at me for killing myself. I again started to float back up and I felt so good. I felt connected to everything and I was at peace. No longer was I in pain which I had been in for years, physical and emotional pain. Then I had realized I had overdosed and killed myself. In an instant I shot down to hell and I was on this ledge.

    These two demons were coming towards me; there was one on either side of the cave entrance. I knew (I don’t know how or why) when you land on the ledge they (the demons) come to take you into the cave and into hell. I knew that I would be there forever and those two demons are going to rip my soul to shreds. The demons were very angry and they hate people (all people). As they got close to me I saw this very bright light and heard the voice of my dad (who had already passed away). He said something that made the demons stop dead in their tracks. It was like a force field they could not pass but they were still trying to grab me with their hands but couldn’t. They were growling, snorting and grunting. Then my dad said something else to them in another language and they became even angrier (if that was possible) and my dad was standing there next to me and said “we need to talk”.

    He told me that he was picked to come and talk with me. He then told me that he and everyone else in the family were mad at me and ashamed of me. God and Mother Mary were also mad at me. He then told me that when you do good things it pleases God to no end but when you do bad (sin) it upsets God to no end. The only reason that I was getting a second chance was because of all the good things I had done with helping people for free and a couple of kid’s lives I had saved. If it was not for that I would not be leaving and I would stay there in hell forever. Hell is a very, very painful place. The fire is never quenched and never burns out. My dad told me I was very lucky not many people get a second chance.

    He told me that I had to change my ways and I asked him which ways are you talking about and he said “you know which ways I am talking about boy”! When he spoke like that in that tone of voice he was really upset.

    I knew what he was talking about. I had to quit drinking alcohol and quit doing drugs. I had to stop cheating with married women. Lust was taking me over. If I was not getting drunk and stoned it would not lead to cheating with these married women. I had cheated on my wife to get back at her for cheating on me. One sin leads to the next. I needed to go to church and start praying again to get the strength and grace to change my ways.

    My dad told me that if you kill yourself you go to hell forever no exceptions. I asked him what if you are in battle and you kill 6 of your enemies and save the seventh bullet for yourself? He said “no exceptions you will go to hell. It is not your life to take it is Gods life. God is the one that gave you life and it is His to take not yours”.

    My dad then told me I have to go back and tell people this story. I asked him how? You know I will forget it as soon as I turn around because my memory is horrible. He told me that I would not forget this because God would not let me forget it. He told me I am supposed to tell people wherever I go. I asked him what am I supposed to do go up to people at a bus stop and tell them “Hi my name is John and this is my story” and then tell them the story. He said “YES”. I then told him they won’t listen and will think I am a nut! He said “a lot of them will but some people will take it to heart. The ones that laugh and don’t want to hear it are the ones that need to be prayed for”.

    I was told to do this as soon as possible, as of yesterday. There is not much time left, God is getting tired. I tried to get out of this by telling my dad that there was someone better for this job than me. I am a drunk and druggie; I can’t read, write or spell very well. He told me that I am always asking God what he wants me to do for Him so I can do it and get out of this world. He said that “this was it. To tell this story that you can’t kill yourself or cheat with married women or you will go to hell. The people I tell will tell other people and before it is all said and done a lot of people will be saved and the ones that laugh or don’t want to hear it we need to pray for them”.

    I was sent back a few seconds before they were to stop trying to revive me. When I got back in my body I should have started telling everyone then and there but I did not. I only told a few people about it. The reason I did not do as I was told was out of fear. Fear of what people would think of me. That they would laugh at me and think I was a nut.

    The reason I am doing this now is two fold, first because I heard my Guardian Angel tell me that time was running out and I needed to pray, get back to church and do what I needed for God. The second is that I made a promise to my mother before she passed on that I would start telling people.

    The bottom line is do not kill yourself and if you are having an affair stop it and change your ways asking God for forgiveness and he will forgive. If you don’t change your ways you will go to hell.

    Please pass my story on as it just might save some one’s life. In the last seven years five friends of mine have committed suicide without my knowledge. Had I taken the time to tell them my story it could have changed this sad outcome. On another occasion a friend asked me to tell her my story, but instead of taking the time to tell her my story I told her that I would tell her in the morning because she was cutting into my beer time. I postponed telling her my story even though she offered me a Styrofoam cup for my beer. The next day I had a hangover so I didn’t show up. On the following day I went to her store and I found out that she committed suicide the night before.

    MAY EVERYDAY FIND YOU SOME PEACE AND HAPPINESS AND MAY GOD BLESS ALL OF YOU

    June 17, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
    • agnostic scholar

      @John:

      Your story has circulated in so many versions on the internet that it is impossible to take it serious. I've studied near-death-experiences, and your story or similar stories on the internet have never made it in to the books. Please stop with the fiction.

      July 7, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
  4. inez

    King reported that only 1/3 of Americans ever doubt God exists and only 3 percent are atheists, which has got to be amazingly distorted stats. What's with CNN? You need to promote religion in some big way? Be the caring feeling network running caring feeling pieces on the outrage of war and such? throw god into the mix? Anyone who looks even briefly at relgious stats knows yours are completely wrong, that who asks the questions count, that social stigma counts, that lumping any spiritual kind of humanistic belief into the god category distorts amazingly, etc. "God" suggests some very formalistic religious belief, but this is just not what is out there. Try to report facts that have even a lunatic's bearing on reality.

    June 15, 2012 at 5:53 am |
  5. chris shannon

    Please check out http://www.reasonablefaith.org for help with questions about the Christian faith.

    June 13, 2012 at 10:14 pm |
  6. zach

    god is an adult's imaginary friend.

    June 13, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
  7. Rod

    I go to church because I wish to be around other people in a positive atmosphere at least once a week. The music and the message is usually positive. It is a sad reflection on our society that there are so few places one can go on a weekend to share with other people in a healthy atmosphere. I work almost all the time, I don't care for smoky bars, and I'm not a perky Toastmaster Club type of person. No matter how far apart one church feels they are from another church, in my mind they are all very similar. Most insist on conformity with their creeds. Like a fiance or fiancee you marry hoping for the best, only to realize they will try to change you to your last dying day, these relationships are eventually doomed from the start.

    June 12, 2012 at 10:53 pm |
  8. Guess what?

    God is dead.

    June 12, 2012 at 7:35 am |
    • zach

      gods not dead, he never existed.

      June 13, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
  9. thebiblereader

    Reblogged this on The BitterSweet End.

    June 10, 2012 at 7:52 am |
  10. Jess

    I liked your testimony. Thanks for sharing!

    June 7, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
  11. withoutgod

    "I won’t relate here the whole story of how I came back to the church."

    It really seemed like that was the whole point of the article, yet the author didn't go into it? The steps she listed are not at all a convincing argument to return to church. Oddly enough, the "secular enticements" she decries include things like freedom of speech, women's rights, civil rights, the end of slavery, separation of church and state, and others. These things exists in spite of religious opposition to them for centuries and even millenia. The article is basically one large appeal to emotion and incredulity. Not very convincing at all.

    June 7, 2012 at 10:43 am |
    • WithGOD

      Uhm, none of those things were secular.... Freedom of speech has always been promoted by true Christianity. Women's rights, the Bible elevates women, it never degrades them. Civil Rights, let me see, a Baptist preacher pushed for that the most, Martin Luther King, Jr. This was a Christian movement. The end of slavery, William Wilburforce was a DEVOUT Christian who believed that slavery was wrong, if it weren't for this Christian man, who had in his early life been a drunkard the end of slavery would not have come about peacefully in the British Empire. Separation of Church and State was fiercely promoted by a Baptist preacher because he didn't want the government telling churches what to do, and that is what separation of church and state originally meant. All of the above are not secular ideas, get your revisionist history straight.

      June 9, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • Joseph

      Women are constantly degraded in the Bible; Judges 21:10-24: They told the men of Benjamin who still needed wives, "Go and hide in the vineyards. When the women of Shiloh come out for their dances, rush out from the vineyards, and each of you can take one of them home to be your wife! And when their fathers and brothers come to us in protest, we will tell them, 'Please be understanding. Let them have your daughters, for we didn't find enough wives for them when we destroyed Jabesh-gilead. And you are not guilty of breaking the vow since you did not give your daughters in marriage to them.'" So the men of Benjamin did as they were told. They kidnapped the women who took part in the celebration and carried them off to the land of their own inheritance. Then they rebuilt their towns and lived in them. So the assembly of Israel departed by tribes and families, and they returned to their own homes.

      Numbers 31:7-18: They attacked Midian just as the LORD had commanded Moses, and they killed all the men. All five of the Midianite kings – Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur, and Reba – died in the battle. They also killed Balaam son of Beor with the sword. Then the Israelite army captured the Midianite women and children and seized their cattle and flocks and all their wealth as plunder. They burned all the towns and villages where the Midianites had lived. After they had gathered the plunder and captives, both people and animals, they brought them all to Moses and Eleazar the priest, and to the whole community of Israel, which was camped on the plains of Moab beside the Jordan River, across from Jericho.

      Moses, Eleazar the priest, and all the leaders of the people went to meet them outside the camp. But Moses was furious with all the military commanders who had returned from the battle. "Why have you let all the women live?" he demanded. "These are the very ones who followed Balaam's advice and caused the people of Israel to rebel against the LORD at Mount Peor. They are the ones who caused the plague to strike the LORD's people. Now kill all the boys and all the women who have slept with a man. Only the young girls who are virgins may live; you may keep them for yourselves.

      Deuteronomy 20:10-14: As you approach a town to attack it, first offer its people terms for peace. If they accept your terms and open the gates to you, then all the people inside will serve you in forced labor. But if they refuse to make peace and prepare to fight, you must attack the town. When the LORD your God hands it over to you, kill every man in the town. But you may keep for yourselves all the women, children, livestock, and other plunder. You may enjoy the spoils of your enemies that the LORD your God has given you.

      Deuteronomy 22:28-29: If a man is caught in the act of raping a young woman who is not engaged, he must pay fifty pieces of silver to her father. Then he must marry the young woman because he violated her, and he will never be allowed to divorce her.

      and even worse...

      Deuteronomy 22:23-24: If within the city a man comes upon a maiden who is betrothed, and has relations with her, you shall bring them both out of the gate of the city and there stone them to death: the girl because she did not cry out for help though she was in the city, and the man because he violated his neighbors wife.

      ...just come on with the women's rights in the Bible.

      June 13, 2012 at 10:53 am |
  12. Kindness

    1. For you.
    A thought to consider without a typical ego response
    Accept Jesus Christ as your lord and savior. You never know how soon is too late. Transcend the worldly illusion of enslavement.
    The world denounces truth....
    Accepting Jesus Christ (for me) resulted in something like seeing a new color. You will see it .....but will not be able to clearly explain it to anyone else..... Its meant to be that way to transcend any selfism within you.
    Also... much the world arranges "surrounding dark matter into something to be debated" in such a way that protects/inflates the ego.
    The key is be present and transcend our own desire to physically see evidence. We don't know anyways by defending our own perception of dark matter.
    Currently.... most of us are constructing our own path that suits our sin lifestyle. Were all sinners. Knowing that we are is often an issue. But both Christians and non are sinners.
    We don't like to Let go and let god. We want control to some degree. This is what Jesus asks us to do. "Follow me".
    It's the hardest thing to do... but is done by letting the truth of scripture lead you (redemptive revelation)... as I said .
    Try reading Corinthians and see if it makes sense to you. Try it without a pre conceived notion of it being a fairy tale.
    See the truth...
    do we do what it says in today’s society... is it relevant... so many have not recently read and only hinge their philosophy on what they have heard from some other person...which may have been full of arrogance pride or vanity..
    Look closely at the economy ponzi, look at how society idolizes Lust , greed , envy, sloth, pride of life, desire for knowledge, desire for power, desire for revenge, gluttony with food etc .
    Transcend the temporal world.
    Just think if you can find any truth you can take with you ....in any of these things. When you die your riches go to someone who will spend away your life..... You will be forgotten.... history will repeat itself.... the greatest minds knowledge fade or are eventually plagiarized..... your good deeds will be forgotten and only give you a fleeting temporary reward . your learned teachings are forgotten or mutated..... your gold is transferred back to the rulers that rule you through deception. Your grave will grow over . This is truth .
    Transcend your egoism and free yourself from this dominion of satan. Understand you are a sinner and part of the collective problem of this worldly matrix... Repent.... Repent means knowing (to change)
    Evidence follows faith. Faith does not follow evidence.....
    Faith. Above. Reason. In. Jesus. Christ.
    Faith comes by Reading or Hearing the word of god from the bible. Ask Jesus in faith for discernment and start reading the New Testament... You will be shocked when you lay down your preconceived notions and ....see and hear truth ... see how Christ sets an example ... feel the truth....
    Read Ecclesiastes. Read Corinthians.
    You can’t transcend your own egoism by adapting a world philosophy/s to suit your needs. Seek the truth in Christ.
    Sell all your cleverness and purchase true bewilderment. You don't get what you want ....you get what you are in Christ.
    I promise this has been the truth for me. In Jesus christ .
    Think of what you really have to lose. ...your ego?
    Break the Matrix of illusion that holds your senses captive.
    Once you do . you too will have the wisdom of God that comes only through the Holy Spirit. Saved By grace through Faith. Just like seeing a new color.... can't explain it to a transient caught in the matrix of worldly deception.
    You will also see how the world suppresses this information and distorts it
    You're all smart people . I tell the truth. Its hard to think out of the box when earthly thinking is the box.

    It’s a personal free experience you can do it free anytime.
    Don't wait till you are about to die.. START PUTTING YOUR TREASURES WHERE THEY REALLY MATTER >

    It’s awesome… and it’s just between you and Jesus..

    June 6, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
    • YeahRight

      "A thought to consider without a typical ego response"

      Your posts reek of ego so the rest of it is moot, especially since you keep posting this garbage over and over again. LOL!

      June 6, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
  13. Joseph

    What exactly is so "vapid" about secular ideals. If anything, secularism is enlightening, offering more to a person than the subjective guidelines that most faiths have to offer. How could an ideology that promotes analytical practices be vapid? Check your book for the answers, but serving your opinions with such circular reasoning leaves me too dizzy to keep up. I think I need to sit down for a moment.

    June 5, 2012 at 9:20 am |
    • Bob

      The writer must be referring to Solomon's words in the Bible in the book of Ecclesiastes. Solomon ruled Israel during a time of great prosperity. In his later years he dabbled in all the pleasures of life but ultimately found emptiness. Emptiness in engaging in a lifelong race to outperform, out-indulge, out-consume, out-spend, out-earn, etc. those around you. To what end? All are destined to old age, declining health, feebleness and death. Solomon wrote that this is "vanity" or "meaningless" or "vapor". Whether one believes in the Bible or not, it's certainly a thought-provoking philosophical viewpoint.

      June 6, 2012 at 11:37 am |
    • Joseph

      @Bob; Or perhaps the story of the Prodigal Son, where the son who has everything(supposedly like we are under the love of "god") rejects his lifestyle and comforts of home to go about and splurge all of his father's earnings(supposedly as I have done by rejecting the idea of "god"), and finally returns home poor and remorseful. Yes, the Bible is full of stories like this, but that doesnt say anything about the nature of reality. There are many lessons that can be found in the Bible; unfortunately most of them are horrible, vindictive, and anything but examples for how to live a moral life.

      June 13, 2012 at 10:44 am |
    • Those Who Fail History

      What do you mean by "secularism"? From the Free Dictionary:
      1. Religious skepticism or indifference.
      2. The view that religious considerations should be excluded from civil affairs or public education.

      Very enlightening, bigot;

      June 14, 2012 at 9:24 pm |
  14. MNTaxpayer

    Talk about a shallow, self indulgent story. But I suppose it sells books to those who share her 'faith'.

    June 4, 2012 at 11:00 am |
  15. Doy

    Dear Sister Andrea, your leaving the chuch is the very reason you saw somuch suffering. When we get outside of God's word and live according to the way our flesh believes and directs us we all suffer when we make choices with out doing thins according to God's will. God's followers never go without clothing or food or shelter. Those generations of people no matter where in the world suffer becuase they have practiced and still do, their own way of how things should be. And without God's direction, we will all suffer and cause our own hand to destroy our own personal self. Yes God could with blick of an eye , wipe out all manner of desease and feed and cloth all of the world but because of their generational past, they have to suffer until a new generation raises up and changes by decideing to follow the Christ and make him first, Lord and Saviour of their lives. Like you, I had a wonderful upbringing and that why Satin wants to drive you out, so he can turn you arouond so you in not choosing to follow and trust in Jesus will turn around your good graces and your next generation of children, grandchildren and so on will rebell and end up just like those people you saw in the orphanages. God was showing you your generations future if they all continue to turn from him. Remember scripture God protects all babes and fools but the fools that don't come in, suffer the damnations of hell. May peace be with you, always.

    June 3, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • MNTaxpayer

      God's followers never go without clothing or food or shelter.

      What a rediclulous statement.

      June 4, 2012 at 11:02 am |
    • Andrée

      I posted k..k..k.. is that not an acceptable word with cnn?

      June 16, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
    • Andrée

      I posted k..k..k.. is that not an acceptable word with cnn?who are they and why is this an american phenomena?

      June 16, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
  16. cynee

    I will pray for Andrea, that she has a real experience with Jesus Christ as I have had numerous times. When I came to the Jesus, HE really took hold of me. Then gradually the excitement wore off, b/c sin. I recommend talking to Jesus just as you would to your husband. Tell HIM how you really feel, Jesus Christ is ALIVE, HE wants you for HImself, and who knows, HE may answer your questions. Remember what the scripture says, "My thoughts are not your thoughts". HE is much bigger than any one or anything we could imagine. Once you have the indwelling of HIS Holy Spirit HE opens your eyes and you will see the world differntly. Like HE sees it.

    Andrea, remember, satan is the prince of the air and wishes to destroy countries, children, starvation, drugs, and everything that is completly contrary to Almight God. It all comes from the devil. We are living in a spirtual warfare.

    Give Jesus your entire being, your soul, and everything that is in you. I assure you Andrea, you will NOT be dissapointed, you will be amazed! God told us to stay focused on HIm, "To Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, mind and soul, and love your neighbor as yourself". It isn't about church, it is about a deep personal relationship with our maker Jesus Christ, who took my place on the cross, to keep me out of hell, even though I deserve to go there, HE saved me. I cannot express and do anything enough to thank HIM for what HE went through. Jesus does not desire to have anyone soul go into hell and damnation. It is the person's complete unbelief and unsubmission to the authority of Jesus that sends them there.

    June 3, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
    • Doy

      Amen!

      June 3, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
    • MNTaxpayer

      It is the person's complete unbelief and unsubmission to the authority of Jesus that sends them there.

      Is that your definition of unconditional love?

      June 4, 2012 at 11:04 am |
    • StandupforTruth

      Keep the search for Truth Sister. Some people are content in their misery and are hoping that we believers become narrow, hopeless, apathetic and in despair. They want us to fuel their toxic emotional rants.

      June 4, 2012 at 8:20 pm |
  17. WWFSMD

    AAH, step #4, that made me smile. You can do of all of that, our church lawn fetes all have beer and gambling tents. You can smoke and drink and gamble with the priests (no Pearl Jam though, just bad cover bands). You can even bring the kids! Just make sure you do it at church, they only condone it if the they profit from it. If you go the casino, they stand outside and scream you personally are the downfall of society.

    June 3, 2012 at 8:14 am |
  18. WCCT

    Being an atheist does not equal drugs, alcohol and rock music.

    June 3, 2012 at 3:41 am |
    • cynee

      To WCCT,

      She wasn't saying antheism at all. She struggled with her questions of what she saw in the mission field and where is God in all this mess?

      June 3, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
  19. Andrew

    Ok. Ive heard many people here say "without religion there would be no war" or "religion is poison and always will be." Meanwhile, not mentioning the MASSIVE amounts of food drives, charity work, (for some it may be a fear of hell, but I dont believe in hell and most don't believe people are easily sent there) people who refuse to fight because of their religious belief (Rosewood Massacre, many refused to take revenge based on their faith.) Now, I'm Jewish and politically liberal. If you don't believe in God, and you want to sit home, and (like so many people do) not volunteer to help others, not think about others, or not question your part in the vast emptiness of the universe. Ironically young people are scientifically considered under developed regarding certain lobes, and the consequences of certain actions. It doesn't fully develop until your mid to late 20's. I just see how much things I did for other people when I didn't attend my synagogue, and then the amount of things I've done to help people when I started practicing Judaism...it changed my life and benefited probably dozens. Its called Tikkun Olam (World Healing) in Judaism. I disagree with trying to convert others or even allowing people to easily just jump into your religion. I just dont understand people that have genuine hate for people who believe in Jesus, or God or any religion, someone here said practicing religion is intellectual suicide. Well if going to church to meditate on your beliefs is suicide, sitting on your ass after college and simply saying "there's no god, thus I should ignore the concept completely.." is precisely that. Intellectual suicide. Just because someone dedicates their beliefs and life to the teachings of Descartes (which cant be proven or discredited like religion) it makes them...dumb. Perhaps its the people who don't look at their religion they are brought and break it down. There are tenants that make that religion, but there are many small "rules" that can be challenged and are debated philosophically. That's where faith comes from. Just like modern philosophers who have beliefs that cant be proven or discredited, its your evaluation and choice of beliefs. Noone deserves to get harassed do to their beliefs. You cant help what you believe, I didn't believe the Catholic church or the concept of a "second" bible. After genetic examination, philisophical debate, and studying archealogical sites, I chose to convert to Judaism. I don't get angry if people talk about Jesus in front of me, its there opinion, however I don't believe in spreading my religion.

    June 2, 2012 at 7:19 pm |
    • Those Who Fail History

      Many true statements. All the more proved by a lack of contestation.

      June 14, 2012 at 9:33 pm |
  20. Poorsoul

    That is why God made a parable about the "Prodigal Son"....God allows suffering to proclaim His Greatness, to show us His Great Love for all of us....and for all of us to be understanding and compassionate to each and every one...Gold is tested through fire.....

    June 2, 2012 at 3:10 am |
    • FoodForThought

      "God allows suffering to proclaim His Greatness, to show us His Great Love for all of us".
      Don't you realize how bizarre that sounds?

      June 5, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • Andrée

      I am Canadian, I was watching CNN and they were talking about the mom. Could anyone tell me who they are and why they said it is an american phenomena?

      June 16, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
    • Joe

      You must believe that God is a dimwit. Why would an all-omniscient immortal being care one bit about an insignificant mortal who has no value to impart? Would you derive satisfaction from a nest of worshiping insects? You will find more truth written on a roll of Charmin than on the Bible.

      June 27, 2012 at 1:13 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.