I was adopted into a Christian family and was raised in a non-denominational church in Eastside, Atlanta. When I was an infant, I was chosen to play the role of baby Jesus in the manger. When I grew a little older, I was baptized and placed in Sunday school, where I learned all the children’s Bible stories and sang the infamous “Jesus Loves Me” song in the choir. I also played the recorder in chorus. I was taught how to say my morning and night time prayers and how to “say grace”, or pray with thanksgiving over my food. When I was 12, I recited the Sinner’s Prayer to invite the Lord Jesus into my life. I made sure I memorized the Lord’s Prayer, Psalm 23 and especially John 3:16. I had been “trained up in the ways in which I should go”. But at the age of 13, I moved back to my birthplace, Miami, where I strayed away from the Christian faith and entered a life of sin.
Although I had Christian upbringings, I was later exposed to the doctrine of The Moorish Science Temple of America, Inc., an Islamic movement founded by Noble Dre Ali. I was also introduced to the doctrine of The Jehovah’s Witnesses, a religion founded by Charles Taze Russell. Thus, I grew up devoted to three different religions–praying to Jesus, Jehovah and Allah faithfully. I attended Christian churches and the Kingdom Hall often. I also had to read the Holy Bible, The New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures alongside the WatchTower and Awake! Magazines, and a book on Moorish Literature, which was inspired by the Koran.
During this time of my life, I digressed from a believer to a doubter. The Christians, the Muslims, and the Jehovah Witnesses all told me that their way was the only right way. But I noticed that there were people who practiced other religions, and even those who had no religious affiliation at all. I grew skeptic. With so many world religions, which one contained the truth? Was truth relative or was it absolute? I began to question my spiritual faith. As a journalism major whose motto was to seek for evidence, proof, and facts, I reached a place in my life where I didn’t want to subscribe to any religion in particular, until I knew for sure which one–if any of them–was most credible and contained the absolute, unbiased truth.
Religious Studies became my area of concentration in college, and I took classes to research and learn more about other religions such as: Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Native American religions, African religions, Judaism, Islam, Taoism, Sikhism, Shintoism, Jainism, Universalism, Egyptology, Christian Science, Scientology, Mormonism, Paganism, and even Wicca. I even studied more into the different sects of Christianity–both Catholicism and the hundreds of denominations within Protestantism. Learning about all the world religions–and seeing so many similarities, yet at the same time so many contradictions–made me even more confused. So one day, I made a simple prayer into the universe and said, “God–If there is a one, true God–reveal yourself to me.”
Fast Forward: One day, I had a dream of me being in heaven. In the dream, I was a little boy, and I had been invited to come through heaven’s gates, where I was greeted by Jesus wearing a long white robe and sash. Jesus rapped his arm around my shoulder and I heard him say that I am His.
On Sunday, December 14, 2008, after growing tired of being weighed down by my sins and the demons that tormented me, I visited a friend’s church, where the full gospel of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ was presented to and understood by me, and I felt a conviction from the LORD to “choose ye this very day whom ye shall serve.” Caught off guard and not completely ready to leave my life of sin — yet understanding that tomorrow is not promised to anyone — I made the decision to repent from my sins, surrender my life to God and get water baptized in the name of Jesus. That following Wednesday night, I visited my friend’s church again for Bible Study, where I was unexpectedly fire-baptized and filled with the gift of the Holy Ghost during an alter call. I experienced a true, born-again conversion. My spiritual eyes were then opened and this became the first day to the beginning of my new life. I soon denounced my affiliation with all other religions and embraced Christianity again–Not because I felt like it was the right choice, but because it was revealed to me.