Nothing comes before family. No matter what, family comes first. Right? Most of us had those words or similar phrases drilled into our heads quite early. Which is why deciding to leave the family church can sometimes feel like a betrayal of everything held sacred and true at home. Sure it’s still the same God, the same Jesus, but the decision to express faith in a different way can lead to some dramatic reactions.
My guest today is a young guy who’s walked this road and this is his story on finding the courage and wisdom to deviate from the norm and how that decision has played out to date. I hope you find it inspiring. Enjoy!
Grow360: May we meet you, please?
Efosa: My name is Efosa. I’m the third child of three in my family.
Tell us, if you will, about your childhood and teen years. What was it like growing up in your home?
Efosa: I grew up in a highly disciplined and religious household full of love and good family ethics; where no nonsense behaviour is tolerated. It was a nice time growing up though every family comes with their different challenges but I had a wonderful childhood.
What role did church/religion play in those early days? Do you remember?
Efosa: Hmmm… this may sound funny but church made me more afraid of God than love him. I saw God as a disciplinarian that would punish me for what I do, church did me more harm than good.
I think it’s the church I grew up in. I was so obsessed with God’s punishment that I lived in fear all my life, I prayed for forgiveness approximately 200 times a day and it was a depressing period of my life. I was never taught how to read my bible all through my childhood but was taught to pray with what is called the rosary.
How seriously did your parents take/enforce church attendance and adherence to church doctrines and practices?
Efosa: My parents being religious as they were, made me attend church every week at least once every week. They mildly enforced church doctrine neither did they have time to teach me religious doctrines.
Share with us, if you will, the first moments you noticed a shift in your heart. When did you first start considering leaving your parents’ church? What fueled this internal shift?
Efosa: Hmm, I like this. I started to notice a shift in my heart when I was in the university. As I began to read the bible for myself and see Jesus for myself, I began to notice that most things I’d been taught from my childhood were wrong. So I made plans to stop going to my childhood church when I finished my undergraduate studies.
And how did this shift affect your response to religious activities in your parents’ place of worship?
Efosa: I became crankier about church and the beliefs of the church; it was obvious to my parents that I no longer wanted to go there.
So when and how did you ‘come out of the closet’ about your decision?
Efosa: I never really came to tell them I wanted to leave. I just left and all hell broke loose because of my decision to go to a church that is focused on Christ and his return.
Can you recall how they took it? How did it go?
Efosa: My parents did not take it lightly. There were those times when they told me I would leave their house if I didn’t follow them to their church.
Sometimes I had to hide my bible when going for a programme in church so they don’t know where I was going. There were times I lied (tears in my eyes) to get to church and it burned my heart to lie and I was wondering when it would be over.
No one was there to support me when I was called for family meetings and I had to defend my faith. I felt like Paul when he stood before elders to defend his faith. There were points I almost gave up but at those periods He (God) always sent His word. I received a lot of threats but then I grew stronger with every confrontation.
So far, how have you managed the situation? What exactly have you done?
Efosa: I stood by my decision and they backed off even though it still comes up but then I loved them through all those times and even now.
Talk to parents out there who may have children going through this experience at the moment. What should they do?
Efosa: I would love to tell parents that the most important thing you should consider is this – is the church my child has chosen drawing him closer to God and fixing their eyes on Jesus? And the only way to know is to follow them to the church to see what the doctrines of the church are.
In closing, please talk to the young person out there who’s feeling dissatisfied with where they are in their spiritual journey right now and is thinking about a switch. What should they do?
Efosa: For people who are going through what I went through, I need you to check your heart to know what is causing the shift in your heart.
Is it genuine? Is it Christ-centred or world-centred because I’ve noticed that youths change churches these days because a church promises money or fame rather than tell them about their Saviour and prepare them for his coming. If your heart is right after examining yourself as scripture says, then I would advise you follow your heart and God would be there to help when you face persecution. Don’t expect it to be an easy fight for your faith.
Wow. Thank you so much for choosing to share your story with us. We believe it will inspire someone out there on their own spiritual journey. Thank you.
Efosa: You’re welcome.
What’s your reaction to Efosa’s true life story? Let’s meet up in the comments section.
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