Conversion through Friendship

The most common “advocate” for conversion is a family member or a friend (you can read about this in my book Turning to Jesus). Some are converted by reading, some by listening to a sermon, some by studying a problem, some by an aesthetic encounter (I know someone who was converted through a piece of art in an Eastern European church) or watching a film or reading a novel, and some by the power of an intellectual argument. But the most common is a friend, or a family person, that is, someone trusted whose faith embodies and makes credible the Christian faith. As is the case with Kirsten Powers:

What’s your story? What “advocates” do you see?

“I started dating someone who went to Tim Keller’s church, Redeemer Presbyterian in New York City. Out of curiosity, I went with him. But I told him upfront that I would never become a Christian; that it’s never going to happen. After about six or seven months, I began to think that the weight of history is more on the side of what [I was hearing at this church] than not. Tim Keller had made such a strong case, that I began to think it’s not even smart to reject this. It just doesn’t seem like a good intellectual decision.

“Really, it was like God sort of invaded my life. It was very unwelcome. I didn’t like it. Obviously, I started having a lot of different experiences where I felt God was doing a lot of things in my life. It’s kind of hard to describe, but I did have this moment where the scales just fell off of my eyes, where I was saying, ‘this is just totally true, I don’t even have any doubt.’ …I don’t really feel like I had any courage when I became a Christian, I just gave in. I wasn’t courageous; I didn’t have any choice. I kept trying to not believe but I just couldn’t avoid [accepting Christ]. If I could have avoided it, I would have. There is nothing convenient about it in my life or in the world I live in. It’s not like living in the South where everybody is a Christian. I live in a world where nobody is a believer. But God pursued me.”

Her name is Kirsten Powers.

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than forty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • Dawn Finch

    Although I am in agreement that this is the way most conversions occur, it saddens me to think that, because this woman is in Tim Keller’s church, she will soon learn that she cannot be an elder because of her gender.

  • Jon Altman

    Isn’t the love of God and neighbor the goal of conversion?

  • attytjj466

    Wow what a wonderful, powerful and surprising testimony! Wonderful example of how Christ through the Gospel seeks us and pursues us! I had not heard about this.

  • Susan_G1

    This is a wonderful testimony. My own journey was also one of running away from God.

    Conversions can happen all the time, from the smallest incident. When I was a medical resident, I was doing routine “scut” work on a hospitalized woman dying of congestive heart failure. I didn’t know her, nor her, me. This woman was so visibly and vocally afraid of dying that I really felt I had to take a chance against hospital policy. So I sat with her and told her the parable of the workers in the vineyard. She asked me if God would really accept a deathbed conversion. I answered that of course He would, if it was sincere. I think I said a brief prayer with her. I finished my work and left.

    Months later, she came to my clinic with an inscribed copy of Thompson’s Hound of Heaven. She hadn’t died as I thought she would; she’d been started on a wonderful new drug that made life possible for her. She handed me the book and said that when she knew she was going to live, she ignored her death-bed conversion. But God did not ignore her. He chased her like the Hound of Heaven. She glowed when she spoke about her new Savior. She lived many more years as a devout believer.

    God really does have jobs for each of us, some will till, some will scatter seed, some will water, some will harvest. What an blessing to play a part in that work.

  • reflectionlj

    hi scot. you didn’t mention that many people, especially in the 2/3rds world, become believers as a result of some sort of supernatural encounter with God such as hearing his voice, experiencing or witnessing a healing, having a dream or vision, etc. i had an encounter with His Presence and heard his voice and subsequently became a follower of jesus.


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