I’ve been an atheist for fifty-five chapters and, before this sentence, had not been planning on changing that.

Prepare for a shock.

No; don’t.

You’ll have guessed already.

I was terrified, walking into the church. I think there were people at the door, welcoming us and holding out hymnbooks, and Shani was smiling away as comfortably as if she were out for lunch with her very closest friends.

Not so I.

As I watched some people in front of us dip their fingertips into a font of smooth clear water and cross themselves with the blessing peculiar to all Christians, I began to shake and fear for my sin. I did not want to lose my sin. It was a part of me, and I was not prepared to give it up.

I heard little of the service, and stood stiff and mute through the opening hymn, which was painfully lively.

Shani was dancing along with the best of them, swaying and grinning, and all I could do was stare back at her and those other people surrounding me: all Christians, despised believers, trapping me.

Evangelism – what does it mean?

It means religious zeal, purpose and activity.

The zeal was there. The very joy in the faces of those around me, oblivious to my discomfort and only immersed in their love for their faith, was evidence of that. The purpose was to spread the word, and that they did: and that was their activity.

As I was dazed, and not then familiar with the common service, I have no idea when the words were spoken. But they were:

“There are unknown faces in this church, but they are eternally welcome. These faces may not be familiar to us, but they are so very beloved by God, and if they wish to be received into the family of God, He, and us too, will welcome them with such greetings and open arms. And so, if any of you unfamiliar faces want to bring yourselves up to the front to receive the blessing of God, you may be admitted into the Church here and now, and never again will they want in spirit, for God will provide.”

That’s me, I thought, and there’s no way I’m going up.

And then suddenly, instantly, as if to combat my thoughts, I felt a tug at my elbow, and I glanced over to see the shining face of Shani, beaming at me, inviting me to go with her.

And I went, amidst the turmoil of my mind and the cheers of the angels. I went up to the front of the church, was blessed, and admitted into the great family of God.

All I could do, as I stood there enrobed in the majesty of God and the pleasure of His sons and daughters, was to revel in the light, marvel at the awesomeness, and simply wonder why I had never been here in this glorious place of love and praise before.

The End

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