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My Faith: A reluctant churchgoer 'gets the Holy Ghost'
The author (foreground, age 7), his late aunt, Sylvia Blake (left) and other family members outside their Baltimore church.
April 24th, 2011
12:01 AM ET

My Faith: A reluctant churchgoer 'gets the Holy Ghost'

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN) - I had my first brush with the “Holy Ghost” when I was 9 years old.  I’m still trying to digest what it meant more than 30 years later.

The day began as a typical Sunday. Aunt Sylvia herded me and my brother into her 1972 baby blue Chevy Impala and drove us to church for a service that would often last five hours.

Sunday worship at a black Baptist church wasn’t just long. It was scary. Elderly women who “got the Holy Ghost” during worship would thrash so violently in the pews that their wigs flew off. People shouted, wept and fainted.

This Sunday service started off no differently. But as the frenzy of the worship intensified, an invisible switch seemed to click on. A wave of heat rippled through the congregation as people beside me threw up their arms and shouted.

Suddenly, something seemed to slip inside of me. A tingling raced up my spine. I stood up to clap, scream - I didn’t know what I was about to do.

Is this, I wondered, the Holy Ghost that Aunt Sylvia sang about?

Singing gospel to keep muggers away

Easter Sunday is supposed to be about resurrection. For me, it’s also about remembering. When I see women herding boys in crisp new suits into the pews during Easter service, I sometimes think about the woman and the church that gave me my first lessons about faith.

I also think about an eerie encounter that I kept to myself for years because I knew it would sound so bizarre.

I didn’t join the church. I was drafted. My aunt forced me and my younger brother, Patrick, to go to worship service every Sunday.

We grew up in Baltimore, in an impoverished neighborhood so dangerous that my aunt would sing gospel hymns aloud as she walked us home from the mall at night. She thought church music warded off muggers.

My aunt wasn’t just my protector; she was my anchor. My mother was gone. My father, a rough merchant seaman, spent most of his time carousing overseas. I spent much of my childhood in foster homes with my brother.

Aunt Sylvia gave us a sense of family. She was a short, round woman who wore black wigs and wide, colorful hats with feathers to church. She would watch us on the weekends and buy presents for us when Christmas and our birthdays rolled around.

She never married; never had children. I told my elementary school teachers that she was my mother.

She was my biggest fan. She would collect my report cards, take me to museums and shower me with books that she nabbed from her job as a high school secretary.

I craved her approval even more than her scrumptious coconut cake. Whenever I made her particularly proud, she would give me the same peculiar look. She’d tilt her head to the left, stare at me in silence, and then her dark face would light up with a warm smile.

She was the only adult I knew wouldn’t abandon me.

Shunning church

My aunt’s smile, though, would turn into an icy glare whenever she saw me nodding off in Union Temple Baptist Church.

I thought my church was full of buffoons. I didn’t like the screaming and shouting, and I couldn’t stand the pulpit theatrics.

My childhood pastor, Rev. Churn, would sweat and yell during his sermons while taunting the congregation with lines like, “You don’t know what I’m talking about?”

He was right. I didn’t know what he was talking about; he shouted too much. When I was a kid, I thought that Rev. Churn was literally angry at the congregation because he yelled at them so much.

Once, during a fiery sermon, I thought about standing up and pleading with the congregation: “Just do what he says, and he won’t shout anymore.”

Despite my disdain for church, there was one part of service that I liked: “Testimony time.”

Testimony came at late-night services, as dusk approached and street traffic quieted outside. The services were less heated and more intimate, and during testimony, church members stood up at random to share a struggle and ask for prayer.

People often revealed the most personal details of their lives. But no one seemed to judge. Instead, people in the pews nodded and smiled, or chanted “weeeeell,” to encourage them.

Even as a fidgety kid, I was entranced. I can still remember how people visibly gathered strength when testifying, as if invisible arms from the congregation were encircling them.

Getting the ‘Holy Ghost’

Still, I wasn’t ready for any personal displays of vulnerability when my Holy Ghost moment came at 9.

When I felt that tingling race up my spine, I became afraid. I didn’t want to lose control. So when I involuntarily stood up in the pew during the service, I caught myself. Then I quickly left the church and took a walk in the cold night air until I calmed down.

As time went on, I resisted church even more. After entering high school, I mustered the courage to tell Aunt Sylvia I didn’t want to go anymore.

She was furious. She prayed aloud to Jesus. She tried to spank me. Then she retreated into silence as she drove me to church one last time with tears in her eyes. I never saw her so sad.

Soon, though, my time for tears would come.

In my sophomore year of college, I found my way back to church. A series of remarkable coincidences took place in my life. I made new friends and joined an interracial church full of people my age. And I shared it all with my brother, who quickly followed my example.

I also gained more respect for the black church. I attended college when there was a national debate about making the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday a national holiday. The debate prompted me to start reading about King and the civil rights movement.

The more I learned about the movement, the more I realized how crucial the black church was to its success. It gave the movement its spiritual fuel and many of its most courageous activists.

But my intellectual awakening didn’t quell my emotional insecurities. I had inoculated myself so much against organized religion as a kid that I began to think it just wasn’t for me. I didn’t think I was good enough.

One night, it all came to a head. I decided I was going to quit. How, I thought, would I tell people? What would my aunt say? I went to bed in despair.

Then, something strange happened.

I bolted awake, tears streaming down my face. I was on my back, right arm over my closed eyes, but I squinted anyway because I felt as if I were looking directly into the sun.

I felt a presence within that light. I was crying because I had never felt so exposed. This light seemed to bore through me, revealing my most sordid deeds, my inadequacies and my fears. I felt like an insect.

Despite that feeling of shame, I felt something even more powerful: love. It seemed as though this presence, something as immense as the universe, was telling me that I was accepted.

What do you do with such an experience? Was it a dream, a breakdown, youthful foolishness? I don’t know. But that moment changed me. I couldn’t quit. I had encountered something else besides my aunt that wouldn’t abandon me.

One last smile

As I think about that nighttime experience now, it takes on another meaning as well.

If my aunt was my childhood anchor, the black church was her source of strength. How could I reject the institution that nurtured her?

I thought all of the shouting in my childhood church was for show. I didn’t know the history behind the shout: slavery, segregation, people who “got happy” because life was so grim.

Faith, without emotion, is dead - that’s the lesson I absorbed from the black church, and from my aunt.

I never saw my aunt “get happy.”  But I can’t imagine she would have sacrificed so much for me and my brother if she wasn’t driven by a powerful emotion - love.

And I would have given up on my faith if I had not been overwhelmed by the emotion I experienced during my night of tears.

I never shared my nighttime experience with my aunt. It was too embarrassing to share with anyone. Yet she saw me and my brother return to church.

Three years after I graduated from college, though, I had to say goodbye to her.

She was 60, and dying from liver failure. I took a week off to visit her in Baltimore, but I didn’t go to the hospital to see her for several days because I kept making excuses. I didn’t want to accept that I was losing her.

I finally went to the hospital with my brother to see her one sunny afternoon. She was in a hospital bed, her once stout body shrunken, her dark complexion yellowed. She was unconscious.

I didn’t know what to do. I felt guilty for taking so long to see her. So I started to babble. I don’t know if I told her I loved her, or if I even thanked her.  But I do remember this: Though I went there to comfort her, she ended up comforting me, much like she did when I was a boy.

As I looked down at her, trying not cry, she opened her eyes.

She was too weak to talk. But she gave me that peculiar look - the tilt of her head to the left and the long stare - and then she smiled.

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Belief • Black issues • Christianity • Easter • Faith • Houses of worship • Lost faith • Opinion

soundoff (1,716 Responses)
  1. james hotz

    The Lord moves in mysterious ways.

    April 24, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
    • ZeebleZub

      Your utter lies and bullshlt to perform...yes, yes, we've all seen thousands of silly quotes from your book of lies.
      There is no mystery about lies. They are lies. Very simple and unmysterious.

      April 24, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
    • macj123

      @ZeebleZub

      Why are you so angry? Why do you care so much what others' believe?

      Psychologically we know that anger is often a secondary emotion to more primary emotions like pain, hurt and disappointment ... I encourage you to bring these primary emotions to Jesus and he can heal them.

      April 24, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
    • RAMBLE3144

      Beautiful story. But, you still need to insert how the GOP "raised brows" somehow.

      April 24, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
    • ZeebleZub

      Angry? At all the evil done in the name of religion? Why would anyone be angry about that? Lies should be opposed at all times, day and night.
      I oppose your lies. That you put forth your lies as truth is aggravating and disgusting. You are insane with your lies. There is no coexistence with you people. You hate and say it's really your god who hates. You think love is proof of your god when it is just proof that your brain can experience emotions. You pretend that all is sweetness and light in your religion when it is black with evil.
      Angry? HELL YES!

      April 24, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
    • Andrew_J

      That was beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

      April 24, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
    • Dave

      ZeebleZub needs a hug, man. Hey Z... did you even read the article? Dude was just sharing his story. He wasn't lying... just sharing his story. Did you ever think that the hate you have for religion is the same hate that religion has spilled on the world? You're just passing it around, man. Why not try letting it go? For real.

      April 24, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
    • macj123

      Lies? What lies are you talking about?

      Yes, there are always those with evil intentions who do harm for any good cause. Would you stop believe in the cause of Mother's Against Drunk Driving if one of its members got drunk and killed someone?

      I don't believe you have read much, if any, of the Bible if you believe it is propogated by hatred ... you have entirely missed the point of Easter. Jesus loves you. I am not sure who hurt you, but He can heal that hurt.

      April 24, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
    • Russell

      ZeebleZub, quit blaming God for your inadequacies. Take responsibility for your actions and admit there is something greater than yourself. You selfish fool.

      April 24, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
    • Lamar

      @zeelb...

      You are angry because you have been deprived of love in your life. It is plain to see that you are without Hope, Faith or Charity. However God's bounty of love is there for you, for free! All you need to do is open your heart, your mind and see that it is there, it is true and it is all yours for taking. You are a step away from receiving it, you are enveloped by it, all you need to do is open up your heart to it.

      Lamar

      April 24, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
    • GAW

      It's odd how many of these 'New Atheist' types caricature all the religious as hateful and stupid. Yes hate does exist among so-called believers as well as anti-intellectualism. But lumping all religious people together into one category is overly simplistic and is the use of poor logic. I fear that some of these folks will snap one of these days and resort to acts of violence against others rather than use logic, debate and dialogue to persuade others. Instead they use intimidation and hate just like their more extreme religious fundamentalist counterparts. What a disappointment to the thinking community.

      April 24, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
    • ZeebleZub

      I AM taking responsibility for my actions, dum-ass. And I am fighting the lies that are called religion. That puts me one up on you. What are you doing to help the world? Mumbling to your non-existent god and pretending that you aren't responsible for the evil things you do?
      Your religion makes you irresponsible. You think it all get magically wiped away, but your victims are still here.
      Religion gives you an excuse to do evil things without paying for them.
      And it uses lies to fool you into thinking this way.
      You are delusional. Not me. I am not waving my arms in the air and thinking it's actual magic. I am not mumbling on my knees and thinking that this will change anything.
      Nope. You're gonna have to try harder than that. Your prayers aren't working, are they? What a shock.
      Welcome to HELL! The place where your god does not exist!
      Feel the hairs go up on the back of your neck yet? LOL
      Look outside. No god! Oh noes! We must be in hell!
      LOL

      April 24, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
    • macj123

      Zee,

      You are right ... there is no hope in this world ... this is the meassage of Easter ... Jesus Christ is the one who brings both salvation and hope. He, unlike others you have experienced, will not hurt or disppoint you.

      April 24, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
  2. fredneck

    why do non-believers even bother with these stories? do you think you're going to save people by enlightening them? sounds like some crazy cult..... join me in not believing and be saved. if you already know there is no god , why do you feel the need to convince others?

    April 24, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
    • ZeebleZub

      Convince them of what, exactly? That you have no proof? You already know that, don't you? Honesty and truth do not convince you, yes I understand.

      April 24, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
  3. JOSEPH

    DAVE, THEIR IS A GOD. LOOK AT ALL THE ANIMALS AND NATURE IN ITS SELF. THE SUN IS 93 MILLION MILES AWAY AND IS OVER 1.3 MILLION THE SIZE OF EARTH, BUT IT LOOKS AS IF ITS JUST NEXT DOOR. SINCE YOUR FLESH CAME FROM THE DUST OF THE EARTH ONLY THE FOOD THAT COMES FROM THE DUST OF THE EARTH WILL NOURISH IT PROPERLY. THE BIBLE IN PROPHECY WHICH DISCRIBES EVENTS THAT WILL HAPPEN IN THE FUTURE HAS BEEN 100% ACCURATE TO THIS DAY. ONLY A GOD CAN TELL YOU WHATS GOING TO HAPPEN BEFORE IT HAPPENS. YOU WILL FIND ALL THE ANSWERS IN THE BIBLE. WHY ARE YOU HERE ON EARTH AND THE PURPOSE OF YOUR LIFE. JUST ASK GOD TO REVEAL HIMSELF TO YOU AND I WILL GUARANTEE YOU HE WILL ANSWER YOU. JUST ONE THING, MAKE SURE WHATEVER IS EXPLAINED TO YOU OR DEMONSTRATED IS IN THE BIBLE. WE ALL HAVE EXPERIANCED GOD IN OUR LIFE. ONE OF THE FUNCTIONS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IS THAT IT CONVICTS THE WORLD OF SIN. THAT CONSCIECNCE/THOUGHT OR EMOTION THAT YOU FELT THAT TOLD YOU WHAT YOU DID IN DEED OR BY VERBAL RESPONSE WAS WRONG AND YOU FELT SORROWFUL OR REMORSE WAS THE HOLY SPIRIT. IT IS OUR CHOICE HOW WE CHOOSE TO RESPOND TO OTHERS AND TO GOD. GOD REQUIRES US TO REPENT FROM SIN WHICH MEANS CHANGE OR REVERSE OUR WAYS TO HIS OR GOD'S WAY. IF YOU READ THE BIBLE YOU WILL FIND ALL THE ANSWERS INSIDE THE BOOK. IT IS YOUR CHOICE. THEIR IS ONLY ONE GOD. THE DEVIL HAS CREATED OTHER GOD'S TO CONFUSE US AND TO LIE ABOUT THE TRUTH OF GOD'S EXISTANCE. THE DEVIL WORKS THRU YOUR MIND. NOT ALL THOUGHTS ARE YOURS. LET ME GIVE YOU AND EXAMPLE OF THE DEVIL/SATAN OR DEMONS EXISTANCE. PHYSIC READING COMMERCIALS ON TV IS JUST ONE WAY THE DEVIL TRYS TO ENTER INTO OUR LIFE'S. THE PERSON GETTING THE READING FROM THE PHYSIC ALWAYS RESPONDS: SHE KNEW EVERYTHING ABOUT ME. THIS IS A TRICK BY THE DEVIL. A DEMON HAS BEEN ASSIGN TO YOU EVER SINCE YOU WERE BORN TO KEEP YOU IN SIN AND AWAY FROM THE THINGS OF GOD. THIS DEMON KNOWS EVERY THING ABOUT YOU. THIS DEMON TEELS THE DEMON THAT IS WITH THE PHYSIC EVERYTHING IT KNOWS ABOUT YOU. THE WOMEN HEARS WHAT THE DEMON IS TELLING HER AND REPEATS IT BACK TO YOU. THIS IS HOW THEY KNOW EVERYTHING ABOUT YOU. FEEL FREE TO EMAIL ME IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS CONCERNING GOD.

    April 24, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
    • ZeebleZub

      Quit using all CAPS you dumbfck.

      April 24, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
  4. realworld95

    Please you tube "illuminati" it is interesting. You may discover who is really brainwashed...just sayin

    April 24, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
  5. Ted

    ....A Wonderful Easter sermon Live..Starts Today at 11:30 Am PST,,,Best I have ever heard Please Listen...here...http://ccpacifichills.com/live...

    April 24, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
  6. JOSEPH

    THEIR IS A GOD. LOOK AT ALL THE ANIMALS AND NATURE IN ITS SELF. THE SUN IS 93 MILLION MILES AWAY AND IS OVER 1.3 MILLION THE SIZE OF EARTH, BUT IT LOOKS AS IF ITS JUST NEXT DOOR. SINCE YOUR FLESH CAME FROM THE DUST OF THE EARTH ONLY THE FOOD THAT COMES FROM THE DUST OF THE EARTH WILL NOURISH IT PROPERLY. THE BIBLE IN PROPHECY WHICH DISCRIBES EVENTS THAT WILL HAPPEN IN THE FUTURE HAS BEEN 100% ACCURATE TO THIS DAY. ONLY A GOD CAN TELL YOU WHATS GOING TO HAPPEN BEFORE IT HAPPENS. YOU WILL FIND ALL THE ANSWERS IN THE BIBLE. WHY ARE YOU HERE ON EARTH AND THE PURPOSE OF YOUR LIFE. JUST ASK GOD TO REVEAL HIMSELF TO YOU AND I WILL GUARANTEE YOU HE WILL ANSWER YOU. JUST ONE THING, MAKE SURE WHATEVER IS EXPLAINED TO YOU OR DEMONSTRATED IS IN THE BIBLE. WE ALL HAVE EXPERIANCED GOD IN OUR LIFE. ONE OF THE FUNCTIONS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IS THAT IT CONVICTS THE WORLD OF SIN. THAT CONSCIECNCE/THOUGHT OR EMOTION THAT YOU FELT THAT TOLD YOU WHAT YOU DID IN DEED OR BY VERBAL RESPONSE WAS WRONG AND YOU FELT SORROWFUL OR REMORSE WAS THE HOLY SPIRIT. IT IS OUR CHOICE HOW WE CHOOSE TO RESPOND TO OTHERS AND TO GOD. GOD REQUIRES US TO REPENT FROM SIN WHICH MEANS CHANGE OR REVERSE OUR WAYS TO HIS OR GOD'S WAY. IF YOU READ THE BIBLE YOU WILL FIND ALL THE ANSWERS INSIDE THE BOOK. IT IS YOUR CHOICE. THEIR IS ONLY ONE GOD. THE DEVIL HAS CREATED OTHER GOD'S TO CONFUSE US AND TO LIE ABOUT THE TRUTH OF GOD'S EXISTANCE. THE DEVIL WORKS THRU YOUR MIND. NOT ALL THOUGHTS ARE YOURS. LET ME GIVE YOU AND EXAMPLE OF THE DEVIL/SATAN OR DEMONS EXISTANCE. PHYSIC READING COMMERCIALS ON TV IS JUST ONE WAY THE DEVIL TRYS TO ENTER INTO OUR LIFE'S. THE PERSON GETTING THE READING FROM THE PHYSIC ALWAYS RESPONDS: SHE KNEW EVERYTHING ABOUT ME. THIS IS A TRICK BY THE DEVIL. A DEMON HAS BEEN ASSIGN TO EVER SINCE YOU WERE BORN TO KEEP YOU IN SIN AND AWAY FROM THE THINGS OF GOD. THIS DEMON KNOWS EVERY THING ABOUT YOU. THIS DEMON TEELS THE DEMON THAT IS WITH THE PHYSIC EVERYTHING IT KNOWS ABOUT YOU. THE WOMEN HEARS WHAT THE DEMON IS TELLING HER AND REPEATS IT BACK TO YOU. THIS IS HOW THEY KNOW EVERYTHING ABOUT YOU.

    April 24, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
  7. Eric G

    Easter would be more fun if there was Football.

    April 24, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
  8. joy

    joseph that commentd at 9:19 speaks the truth, i came to learn of jesus when i aSkd god to show me the truth..of jesus, i went to my basement to find a nail dripping water teardrop amounts,on top of my washin machine, it never leakd bfor ,or after that again, i got closer to god.. i recall heard voices telln me jesus didnt love me or had no time for me whenever i had thought bout jesus as a kid.. i was somewhat born again after repentn for being with a married man and havn aborted a baby when i did not know jesus . for ten yrs, i couldnt live with myself. found god and now see they were bad spirits tryn to derail my life,when i was gettn to know jesus, i noticed the bad voices got worse,like they were attakn me, my good angels told me that those bad ones were mad coz i was gettn closer to god,and they didnt like that. and told me to pray them away, what those bad spirits can know now is, thank u for showing me lies first for my mistakes lead me to truth , thank u jesus for what u have done for all, u r truth

    April 24, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
  9. Rhonda

    Thank you for this wonderful article. I, too, believe in the power of the Holy Ghost. It will change your life!

    April 24, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
  10. Michele

    It's amazing how everything truly remains the same. Humanity has not changed. The Way, the Truth and the Light has entered the world and the world considers Him not. I read some of the caustic, scathing and down right demonic comments in reaction to a man's PERSONAL journey with His God. Simply incredible. That would be tantamount to me saying to an individual who professes his love for someone that they are crazy. Your love is insane and certainly of no value. Your heart doesn't even have the capacity to recognize TRUE LOVE. Who is anyone to question another's love?

    Everyone on this message board is more than what meets the eye. You are all SPIRIT and the spirit of which your SPIRIT is influenced motivates every action, thought and word. This Resurrection Sunday is no different from the first. One can readily observe the Spirit of Christ and the Spirit of Satan by the actions, thoughts and words emanating from humanity.....even on this message thread. Lord God please give EVERYONE on this message an undeniable manifestation of Your reality through Your Son, Jesus, the fleshly personification of the Godhead and Savior of the world, in Jesus name. And forgive them Lord for they know not what they do just like Calvary.

    April 24, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
  11. JR Celario

    This story is worth reading. It has a strange touch on my heart, i felt like realizing that life is a full of miracles, sometimes it was rooted on our faith 🙂

    April 24, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
  12. JW

    It is wonderful that John Blake had a loving aunt who tried to do her best to raise him. The community of her church helped give her the strength to do this. It was her church COMMUNITY who gave her the support she needed in times of struggle. It was not the yelling preacher who talked down to his congregation and it certainly wasn't an invisible force (holy spirit) that gave John Blake the love that is so important to every person to experience. Community can be found in neighborhoods, schools, towns, families etc. It is the love that comes from community that makes the world a better place. The value of church is the wonderful community it can sometimes create. The judgement of others (specifically non believers) which the church can sometimes instill does nothing but create a barrier to community both inside and outside the church. You can see the clash it creates and ill will it causes all over these message boards. Treat people the way you want to be treated. Don't judge others. Create your own community. Reach out to those who may need help. None of these things depend on God. They depend on the love of people, not the love of God.

    April 24, 2011 at 1:03 pm |
  13. Dr. Shoaa Jarrar

    Well this is nothing to do with holy spirit. Before we came to earth milions of JINN were occupying it and are still present in more numbers than humans. These are like humans have desires, habits, religions. Satan is an example of the bad ones but there are christian jins, muslims, jews. etc.. The jinns are made of fire originaslly while we are made of sand. This man has only experianced one JINNY to go inside him. Nothing holy nothing special and it can be forced to leave his body. I saw thousands of people with this problem and thousands could come back to normal when those JINNIES were forced out of the bodies of those people.

    April 24, 2011 at 1:01 pm |
  14. paul

    If atheist really believed that there were no GOD,they would not be here trying so hard to clear their conscience,see only GOD can move in the hearts of men to get them to acknowledge what they don't believe to exist!!!!

    April 24, 2011 at 1:01 pm |
    • ZeebleZub

      paul, my conscience is totally clear. You are obviously too stupid for words.

      April 24, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
    • paul

      Prove to me God does not exist!

      April 24, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
  15. Gil

    Yeah. In any other setting these people would be mentally ill and banished to an asylum. This 2000 year old imaginary friend thing is embarrassing as a human.

    April 24, 2011 at 1:01 pm |
    • Tom

      God reveals Himself to the humble, and conceals Himself from the arrogant. Maybe that explains your lack of faith.

      April 24, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
    • ZeebleZub

      Tom – with such an arrogant post of your own, how is it that you are able to have faith? You retard. Arrogant Christians are a dime a dozen.

      April 24, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
  16. Believer

    This is a nice story but if the author haven't made the next step of having practical faith do that. To those Atheist, I pray God will speak to you in the way you understand. One thing that make me believe the bible is that the apostles who died for what they believed. If the apostles didn't see the risen Jesus, How come they die for it? They all died for it. That is what makes me believe...

    April 24, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
    • ZeebleZub

      You aren't exactly the sharpest tool in the shed, are you?
      Why don't you become a Muslim? They don't mind dying for their beliefs either. That someone is willing to die for it doesn't make it true.
      People can die for a lie just as easily as anything else.
      You really are stupid to believe otherwise. Retarded is a nice word for it.

      April 24, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
  17. ENCOURAGED/DISCOURAGED

    I have to say that I am grateful and encouraged for your willingness to be transparent, and willingness to share about your experiences.

    But. Where is Jesus? John 14:6. He is THE way, THE truth, THE life. NO MAN, comes to the Father except through (Jesus). I am grateful for the people in the black Baptist Church and God is using lots of these people, however there is a "social gospel" that is giving people a false sense of security! When Jesus encountered people like this is scripture he called them hypocrites, snakes, and white washed tombs that look good on the outside but are decaying flesh underneath the facade.
    The gospel isn't anything else but Jesus! The Holy Spirit is the "counselor" and "helper", but not THE WAY! "Feeling good" about church is selfish and not what God desires. He doesn't desire you to feel bad, but the point it is He isn't wanting it to be about you and your feelings. He wants it to be about Him!

    Make it about Him!

    April 24, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
    • CalgarySandy

      You are exactly the kind of Christian that does make me mad and does make me want to get snotty with you. You are the kind that brutalized me in my childhood: If you do good, Jesus did it for you. If you do bad, Jesus is crying and you are demon possessed and going to heck. Do you not know what that does to a child's self-esteem?

      You take a beautiful story of love and support, of loss and regaining and use it to beat everyone over the head. You are a pharisee and Jesus warned people about your type. Read your Bible and discover that you are meant to bring people to Jesus through love not insults. It is through your works that people will want to know more. No one wants to know more about you or your faith. The story by a Christian about his loving Christian aunt is the kind of thing that might bring people into their fold. What you do gives all Christians a very bad name. It is a shame there are so many of you.

      April 24, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
  18. John

    I had experiences with the "Holy Ghost" as well in my mid twenties. To somebody who hasn't experienced it, it's impossible to explain and it sounds like a fantasy. One moment I was sitting politely and listening to everybody chant "Jesus! Jesus! Jesus" and crying/talking jibberish, the next I was crying and talking in tongues myself. I had a very similar experience when I was hypnotized at the fair one year when some hypnosis guy convinced me that I was Britney Spears.

    Beautiful experience? Yes. Reality? Maybe it is. And I am Britney Spears.

    April 24, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
  19. relunctant believer 2

    as a christian, i thoroughly enjoyed reading this blog. i too have struggled with belief my whole life and it was abt 4 years ago i came back to the church. i still have struggles, but my relationship with christ gets stronger every day and my life gets better also..

    its through our actions we show Gods love, not through our words!!

    April 24, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
  20. tallulah13

    This man's Aunt Sylvia sounds like a good person. Kids really need a stable person in their lives to help them. As for singing hymns to scare away criminals, I have had many friends who would sing, talk to themselves or act strange while walking in a bad part of town, on the premise that criminals won't bother crazy people.

    I would guess that his "feeling the holy ghost" had a lot more to do with the dramatic actions of the people who surrounded him that day than it did from anything supernatural. It's very easy for a kid to get excited. His rejection of the church and return to it is unsurprising as it seems to be based more on emotional conflict rather than intellectual considering.

    Its a nice story for people who already believe, but as a non-believer I was more interested in the story of the woman who raised a child who needed her. It's nice to hear about people like her, whether they're religious or not.

    April 24, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
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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.