Many people have really struggled with their faith during the Coronavirus pandemic and been impacted by the loss of in-person church community. Nevertheless, some people have found faith during this difficult time. One of these is Scottish student Eilidh who shares a little of her story of moving from atheism to Christianity.
I don’t come from a particularly religious household. One of my best friends from school went to church with her mom on a Sunday and we used to go to the Scripture Union school lunchtime club. It was there I heard about stories from the Bible. I was genuinely interested, even though I came from a non-Christian family.
One day in this club, a guy came in from a Christian organisation. He shared his testimony of how he used to be a drug addict, but Jesus totally turned his life around. I remember him saying that he put the crown of his life on Jesus. And in that moment, that made sense to me. It felt like that was the only reasonable thing for me to do myself.
The catalyst – life in lockdown
Even after that experience as I child, I wasn’t a churchgoer. However, over the lockdown period, I was totally bombarded by questions that kept going around my mind: Who is Jesus? Why am I doing this? What is the meaning of life? It was at this point I found Unbelievable?, which was so useful. It put the Christianity I was looking into, in conversation – literally – with the atheism I was living.
I had been told not to look into Christianity. There was a kind of feeling among my friends and family that it was almost dangerous and that I could be being brainwashed. But I kept looking into it behind closed doors, because I was convinced there was truth to this and it was worth looking into. It all just seemed to come to a head with all the extra time in lockdown.
The beginning of the journey – apologetics
I started looking into apologetics through things like Unbelievable? over the lockdown period. I think I always felt there had to be something more – like I’ll just have to listen to a certain number of podcasts or watch so many videos. I’ve always been an achievement driven person, nothing’s ever enough. But when I first went to church, the minister said something that struck me. He talked about how simple the gospel was. When Jesus said “it is finished”, he meant it.
In some ways I was essentially living as an atheist, but feeling a real pull towards Christianity. It got to the point where I couldn’t deny it anymore. Justin Brierley put me in touch with a pastor here in Scotland and it was the first time I had spoken to somebody, in person, about the Christianity I’d been looking into and how I felt about Jesus. He gave me some pointers, saying I could become part of a course like Alpha or Christianity Explored or go along to a church. He also said that eventually the thing to do was to give my life to Jesus, which didn’t necessarily happen right that second. It was a process.
The aftermath – family reaction
The response of my friends and family has been pretty varied. One of my family members has actually started listening to Unbelievable? They have really enjoyed hearing that Christianity can stand on its own, and just hearing different opinions was really useful to them. Other people are very much of the opinion that we need to get rid of all religion – they’ve seen a lot of fear and guilt coming from religion, which has really impacted their view.
The journey continues – experiencing church
I started going to church during a period when churches could actually meet in person. It was great being in a place where there were other Christians that I wasn’t just seeing on a screen. Hearing that first sermon did consolidate in my mind that this was this was my life. This was true.
After the service the pastor I had been chatting to and I prayed a prayer of commitment. I think it had been an accumulation of all of the searching over the summer. I made the decision that Jesus is enough and that what he did on the cross and resurrection is true and that is what I need as a sinner saved by grace.
In the lunchtime club as a child after hearing the gospel properly for the first time, I did feel a peace that I couldn’t understand or explain. When I went along to the first church service during lockdown, there wasn’t any particular magic! But slowly I can see my attitudes have changed and just a joy, a peace, a wholeness that doesn’t come from me.