Sunday, 17 May 2015




The recent article I shared about an atheist professor becoming a Christian jogged my mind to remember a snippet of my own testimony.



It is Term 1, third year of my Arts Degree, UQ. A sweltering day in late February. I am about to embark on a year’s lectures in Philosophy of Religion.


I enter the small room in the philosophy building and look around curiously. A man sits, arms crossed, on the desk. My tutor, I assume.

I join the group of about ten sitting in a circle. A few nuns and priests, other interested students like me.


The man at the desk – my tutor – defines the next two years of my life with his opening sentence.

“If you believe in God, you’re wrong and you’ll fail,” he announces.

The words fall like doom on my ears. I’ve already failed one unit, not having realised it would be mainly maths, so I’m carrying an extra unit and I need to pass them all. Butterfly wings beat against the walls of my stomach. I wonder if the truth shows on my face like measles or sheer terror.


I believe in God!


A battle of wills ensues for the coming six months. The tutor requires me to write and deliver a paper to the group, explaining why I believe. At this stage I am not a Christian. I come from a beautiful but ungodly home. However I've had several experiences where God has intervened in my life. I know without doubt He is real.

The tutor laughs at my paper. “Oh, come on,” he says, “Can you see him? Can you touch him?” His voice is mocking. I blush.

We continue to battle in tutorials for six months.

He wins.

Correction: he wins this round.

After six months’ battling, I am an atheist. For eighteen months I believe religion is a crutch. I enjoy a peculiar sense of freedom. After all, I can do whatever I want now. Can’t I?

Despite my various hedonistic and creative pursuits, I become increasingly aware of a gnawing emptiness inside me. I’m hollow. Lonely despite the boyfriends, the parties, the friends.


For reasons I don’t understand, my world begins to crumble. I feel even more hollow. I hit rock bottom a few times but bounce back up. I prepare to travel.


I’m ready to leave for England when, without any warning and at great inconvenience to me, God’s Presence intervenes in my life again. And I know it is Him. My plans turn to sawdust. I’ve felt this Presence before. There’s no getting away from it. Him.


I become a Christian.


It takes me two and a half years to get through the culture shock and say happily, “Jesus is Lord.” But I do it.


Like C.S. Lewis, I am a reluctant convert. I sink ungraciously into an armchair and say to the empty chair nearby (and to the Presence which has come with me to my new flat), “Well, you win!”


A reluctant convert. But to my surprise I haven’t been a reluctant Christian. I’m not a person to do things by halves. I’ve never turned away. How can one, when one knows the Truth? God pursued me a la The Hound of Heaven – and I am now a God chaser!

And I am blessed!


  1. I can relate to your feelings when entering that tutorial although I didn't have quite such a provocative lecturer. You have certainly proved him wrong. Your journey in God continues. Thanks for this window into your journey.

  2. Thanks for commenting, Di. Did you do philosophy too? All tutorials are a challenge at first, aren't they. Yes, it is an ongoing journey with God. Coffee in a little while if we can? ( I'm busy for about a month still.)

  3. VERY VERY glad you have come to Christ and will now spend eternity with Him. I got a high distinction in psychology when doing my B.N. I cannot fathom how priest and nuns were in your class with an unbelieving teacher?? But from my many years experience with Catholics, few actually read and study the Bible for themselves. They have readings in church and take the explanation of the priest as gospel. Praise God ALL have the advantage of learning now and we all can own a Bible. Not so in some countries. God Bless you. Hugs.

  4. Thanks for your comments, Crystal. This was a very long time ago. Philosophy was for anyone with an enquiring mind, regardless of beliefs. I hope the others survived it. I've been a Christian for 44 years now so God certainly won the big battle! Bless you and thanks again.

  5. Love, love, love this, Jeanette! Yes, God is the most relentless pursuer. How can we fail to turn to Him in the face of such utter love and determination? And your piece is so beautifully written - I was engaged from the first sentence to the last. In case you don't recognize me, I'm from Nola's group, Christian Writer's Down Under - Melinda. I thought I'd pop into your personal blog and am so glad I did.

    I can't agree with the comment about Catholics though and must most respectfully disagree with the lovely Crystal Mary. I was raised Catholic through and through, along with the generations before me, and the bible was very much read and studied during our daily catechism classes at school, and yes, read from the pulpit, as frequently happens in the Protestant churches also. In that respect, I see no difference between the churches. 'Lazy' members from both camps will always just turn up and listen to/absorb whatever the priest or minister says. I've seen it from both sides, since, renegade child that I am, I decided to attend several Protestant churches about 20 years ago, eventually being baptized into the Church of Christ, while also attending Uniting Church, Baptist and Catholic churches over the years. It's all been part of my own relentless search for Truth, and has been terribly interesting. In my personal experience, I have always found Catholics to be more tolerant of the Protestant religions than the other way round, though I'm quite sure my personal experience is very different from that of others. I was quite shocked to hear how Catholics are called 'demonic' and deluded, along with the proclamation that Catholics definitely aren't going to heaven. I have a treasured family story of an aunt who was almost lost to dyptheria over 80 years ago. The doctor called the family in to say their final goodbye, saying the child wouldn't last till morning. My grandmother, who was Protestant, dropped to her knees and prayed earnestly, promising to have all her children baptized Catholic, if only God would save her little one. Continuing to pray throughout the night, both she and my grandfather (a hard nut to crack) saw a vision of St Teresa at the foot of the bed. In the morning, when a cold little body was expected to be laid to rest, instead they witnessed their four year old daughter sit up in bed and ask perkily for a cup of tea! They have always believed it to be a miracle. I don't think this proves Catholicism is the 'true' religion'; rather that a merciful God blessed the heart of a mother who was desperate to please Him and save her daughter. Misconceptions abound on both sides, it seems.

    I hope I haven't offended anyone and am writing this with a smile, hoping just to bring another facet to the story. Please edit as you see fit, Jeanette. With sisterly love. Melinda

    1. Thanks Melinda! I worked with Teen Challenge - writing and interceding for them - and several workers were Catholics. They were very impressive Christians and likeable people. Thanks for commenting.

    2. I wrote you a longish answer and it disappeared! Oh, the joys of technology! Melinda, thanks so much for your comments. I worked with lovely, Godly Catholics when I was writing the Teen Challenge newsletter so I am convinced already. Thanks again.

  6. Thanks for sharing your journey Jeanette. I did some philosophy subjects at UQ in 1979. I wonder if we were there round about the same time? I remember much of the religion dept was atheist. But there is no comparison when God intervenes in your life. Good on you for following those promptings.

  7. Thanks for commenting, Nola. True confessions: I was at UQ 1965-7! And I wasn't a child student! I'm so grateful God did intervene and get me out of my awful lifestyle.