I was raised a 4th generation Pentecostal in the United Pentecostal Church (UPC). Some of you know it as the “wear skirts all the time, no make-up and no TV” church.
When I met my husband I was attending a United Pentecostal Church and he was attending the church of Christ. I was instantly drawn to him because of his love for God. I had never met a guy who was so serious about God. Even in the church I was attending, I had dated “preachers,” but their dedication was just not the same.
I realized after two weeks of dating that he would be the guy I would marry and we were married 6 months later. The start of our marriage was hard because I was convinced that I was supposed to win him over and get him to go to church with me. Surely he could see that the UPC was where God wanted him.
I prayed nightly that God would show him “the truth,” but I also prayed that if I was wrong that God would show me my error. I truly meant it.
My husband was so patient with me. I would attend with him when I was not having church service. He would answer my questions when I had them and I know he prayed for me all the time.
One Sunday I had stayed at home from my church because I was not feeling well. I found a book that my husband’s preacher had given him. It was about the error of the UPC. As I read the book I felt a terror creeping over me. Surely these things were not true. Surely the things I had been taught my whole life were not wrong. I cried and cried. When my husband got home, I was still crying. I decided that all those things in the book were wrong and I was going to search and prove it. To my shock, the book was correct. I continued to search and read the bible with “new eyes” to see what else I might have been taught in error. I found lots of things I was taught that were simply not true! I made my decision that I was going to tell my family that I was leaving the UPC.
That was one of the hardest days of my life. My mom told me that I was going to hell and I would be sending my husband and current and future children to hell based on my decision. It would be my fault entirely that my family was going to hell. I tried to explain to my mom that I had spent much time in prayer and studying the Bible before I made the decision. But all she said was “you are reading your Bible too much.” She asked if my husband and I would at least meet with the UPC preacher. I decided that I would because I was ready for her to stop yelling at me.
My husband and I met with him for a few weeks of study. The more we met the more in error I could see the UPC. My husband was so patient and kind. He stood strong and held his ground. The preacher would sometimes lose his cool. I asked the preacher questions that he could not answer and I was met with, “Don’t you think you are doing too much studying and not enough praying?”
After all of this, I knew what I needed to do, but because of how my family treated me I was scared. I started attending church all the time with my husband, except Sunday morning when I went with my parents. I wanted so badly to just do what I knew was right.
Some months later two men from my husband’s congregation approached me about having a Bible study. I agreed to it. I told them I knew everything they said was correct, but I was having family issues. They told me I needed to just let go of those issues. I told them I knew that, but it was easier said than done.
One Sunday night I was at church with my husband and the preacher preached on Matthew 10:37, “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me,” American Standard Version (ASV).
Wow! That hit and hit hard. He was right; I was putting my family before God. I could not do that any longer. It did not matter what my family said to me if I had God on my side.
I cried all night. The next morning my husband left to go fishing. I cried, prayed and read the Bible. I decided I had to not put my family first, but put God first. I called my husband to tell him I was ready to be baptized–and he was on his way home! We called two of our friends who had helped us through this journey and asked them to meet us at the church.
My husband baptized me. I still have family issues, but they are getting fewer. I am still praying for my family to see the truth.
There are so many different things you can learn from my story.
- Be patient with people of another religion. Most of the time they will have lots of issues to overcome to get to where they need to be. It took me six years.
- You never know what impact you have on a person. I had so much encouragement from many people at our congregation.
- Do not push or get argumentative. My husband and other members of the congregation were always patient and allowed me to ask questions. They never argued with me or told me I was wrong. I never felt I had to defend myself. That gave me more time to think and study the answers.
- Do not act like any question is silly. I will admit some of my questions were strange. I had been raised in a religion where some things were not logical at all. I did not know this until I studied for myself.
- Prayer works! I had so many people praying for me through all of this.
The writer of this article wishes to remain anonymous due to family issues. Her husband is a deacon and Youth and Family Minister at their congregation.