From Wycliffe Bible Translator to Freethinker

I'd like to thank Ed Babinski and John Loftus for encouraging me to join this blog. You can read my blow-by-blow story on the Secular Web, but I'll provide a condensed version here.

My parents met and married as evangelical/fundamentalist missionaries in Ethiopia, my birthplace. My parents' missionary career also took us to Liberia and Nigeria, where we remained until I was 16. It was during my ninth grade year at boarding school in Nigeria that I entered into what I considered a personal relationship with Jesus, pouring out my heart to God with earnestness and reading his word (the Bible) daily.

After returning to the U.S., I went on to earn a B.S. in computer science at LeTourneau University, a non-denominational Christian college in east Texas. From there I went on to gain a one-year graduate certificate of biblical studies at Columbia Biblical Seminary in Columbia, South Carolina. Shortly after that I met a young lady who shared my goal of becoming a missionary Bible translator for a language group that did not yet have a translation of the Bible. We married in 1992 and joined Wycliffe Bible Translators in 1993. After the required linguistic training and support-raising, we set off to Europe for French learning before heading to a predominantly Muslim West African country to learn a minority language and translate the Bible into it.

We were still in the language learning process in 2000 when doubts that I had entertained during my college years began to re-surface. I had difficulties with many of the passages in the Old Testament, so I went online in search of apologetic materials to answer my questions. As it turns out, instead of finding anything to help me, I found the opposite: Robert M. Price's online book Beyond Born Again. This sent my faith into a tailspin from which I recovered twice before I finally threw in the towel about nine months after my March 2000 crisis. We left the mission field in the summer of 2000 so I could work through my doubts, but due to my waffling, the mission board requested our resignation in October 2000 (a painful but appropriate decision, in retrospect).

I remained a firm believer in God for about a year after my deconversion from Christianity, considering myself a deist, but gradually moved toward an atheist-leaning agnosticism. For all practical purposes, I am today an atheist, though I suppose I haven't yet grown fully comfortable with the term, preferring labels like freethinker or humanist.

Though my wife of 16 years remains a committed evangelical Christian, we have a relatively strong marriage with no intention of parting ways. We have three children, 13, 11 and 9 who attend church with my wife. At least the older two show some signs of independent thinking. Only time will tell where they end up.

So that's my journey in a nutshell. I do encourage you to read my full story on the Secular Web if you'd like to know more about what brought me down this path. I look forward to engaging with believers and former believers alike. I'm especially interested in knowing what leads some of us to desert the faith and others to remain in it. What is it that makes the difference?