How my Atheist Boyfriend Became My Christian Husband

evan-ge-lism: the winning or revival of personal commitments to Christ

Edd and I met at work on a fall day in the early ‘90s. We chatted, flirted, and went to a few happy hours. By spring we were an official office romance. All went swimmingly until Holy Week. 

Edd invited me to see a movie on Good Friday. “Sure,” I told him, “right after church.”

“Forget it!”  His irritation confused me. “You go do your churchy thing and I’ll see you another time.”

Whoa. My new boyfriend definitely had a grudge against religion. Or God. Or something. This may be the deal breaker for our relationship.

After Easter we continued seeing each other casually. We had a great time Monday through Saturday, but on Sundays as I went to teach my Sunday School class, he took off elsewhere. Most certainly not with me.

I pestered. I pushed. I nagged. “Just try it! You may get something out of it.”

One day he gave in and came with me to church. Though only a member of this congregation for a short time, I’d grown up in this denomination. The Lutheran denomination in which my mother was raised. The same as my grandmother.

Edd’s first church experience didn’t go well.

“This is so cultish!” he accused. “You stand together. You sit together. You recite the same words together. (The Lord’s Prayer and Apostles Creed). You put money in a tray. It’s just so weird.”

Coming from my long generational line of Lutherans, I’d never thought twice about how liturgy looked to an outsider. 

How could I get serious with this man if we didn’t share faith? He grew up in a family of non-believers. We didn’t have a problem of different faiths. We had a problem with any faith. 

We kept our on-again/off-again relationship going for about a year. Then, I had a stroke.

You read that correctly. At 24 years of age, this non-smoking, non-drug using, goody-two-shoes girl had a stroke. 

When we asked doctors if I would be paralyzed forever they said, “I don’t know.” When we asked doctors if I would live through the illness they said, “I don’t know.”

Edd never left my side.

Pastor Bob from my church made a house call. While hanging at my apartment, he and Edd talked. Not about God. About me. About football. About childhoods. About Portland. 

“He’s pretty cool,” Edd acquiesced, “He doesn’t seem cultish.”

Pastor Bob visited again. He and my boyfriend talked some more. Not about God. More about me. More about football. More about every day life.

Before Pastor Bob left that 2nd time, he prayed for me. Edd bowed his head. 

Without my knowledge, Edd continued to pray on his own. Months later, he told me something moved in his heart. Something he couldn’t explain and never experienced before. Something comforting. A presence of love and peace.

Over months, my health began to improve. Edd started taking me to church. Still apprehensive, he read the Bible from the pew holder in front of him while the rest of us sang hymns and daydreamed during the sermon. 

Slowly, Edd let himself believe. If I became to excited and wanted more, he’d back off. This was his journey. Pressuring him to “accept Jesus” would only turn him away. 

I continued to heal and Edd proposed marriage. Pastor Bob officiated our ceremony. After the birth of our first daughter, Edd was baptized. No longer did he deny faith.

He found Christ because of a relationship.

Zomerman wedding

Edd started evangelizing. He didn’t beat anyone over the head with Jesus-freak talk. In fact, he didn’t even bring Jesus up in conversation. He just lived differently. Others began to notice the change. He conveyed more joy, more peace, more caring. 

Noticing a difference in Edd, his non-believing mother, sister, niece, and nephew started attending church. Months later, we flew to Michigan to see their baptisms. 

My husband’s family never participated in an alter call. No-one knocked on their doors asking if they knew where they would go when they die. They didn’t come to Jesus because someone holding a sign outside a grocery store asked if they were saved.

They found Christ because of a relationship.

Kaleo Catalyst

A few Sundays ago, our church skipped the normal order of worship. Instead, the congregation spent the day renovating a needy family’s home. A 7-year-old boy painted and picked up scrap lumber.

When the boy returned to school on Monday, he shared with his class the fun he had serving the day before. That afternoon, the boy’s mom got a text from the mother of a classmate:

“We would like to go to the church where your son painted. If you wouldn’t mind us going with you?” 

A second grader serving and sharing the joy of helping others in the name of Christ. THIS, friends, is evangelism.

Last week, our church received a call. The woman that owns the newly renovated house? She wants more information about church and to know what it means to be baptized. THIS, friends, is evangelism.

What is the best way to show Christ’s love? 

I don’t think you need an alter call at the end of every Sunday sermon. I don’t think you need to stand on street corners asking strangers their view of the afterlife. I don’t even think you need to bring up your faith in the first 5 minutes of conversation.

What does evangelism mean to you? Where have you seen effective evangelism?


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Comments

  1. says

    Tears! Such a great post! I believe this to be so true and a testimony to how evangelism has been in my own life. People do not need another person to tell them how to live… They need an inspiration. I strive to be that inspiration.

  2. Kris says

    Andee, that was amazing. Such an inspiration both of you are! Thank you for sharing! I am so blessed to have you in my life!!

  3. Nancy Perey says

    Great blog. You hit the "nail" on the head!! Thanks for sharing. Some people make serving Christ so difficult!!

  4. says

    THIS IS AWESOME Andee -so glad to see you tonight at the Gabe Lyons event!- I love your heart for outreach and how God has given you this vision to DO something. . .
    cornelia

      • Peter says

        I will not speak for Alexis, but this story annoys me only because I never seem to hear stories the other way. The subject of religion always seems to be a a dichotomy between right and wrong, good and evil, and religion is always the better way. It always seems okay to try to convert someone to become Christian for example, but it is essentially taboo to try to convert the other way. Why is that?

        Should the entire world be converted to Christianity? For someone who does go to church (though I refrain from revealing my religion here), I believe that the church certainly thinks so. For a Christian, it is his/her responsibility to try to save non-believers. Furthermore, for a Christian, she/he should not be receptive of someone who tries to sway him/her away from God. This is a one sided view, in my opinion

  5. Amani says

    I love you. I don't know you and I'm a 19-year old christian girl by the way. But not even your beliefs or your words can separate you from the love of Christ. This may annoy you now cause you don't understand, or don't want to, or think there is nothing to understand and all this is stupid. But even that will never stop God's love for you. The guy in the story did not change for her, he fell in love with Jesus when he met him. Jesus is the piece of himself that he missed and searched for so long, and when he found it, he never felt lonely again. Jesus love you, so do I.

  6. Linda Wilson says

    My name is Linda Wilson from Canada My boyfriend and I were happy as far as I could tell and I never thought that we would break up. When his cousin died in a tragic car accident he went back to London for a week to be with his family. I could not go because I was in the middle of entertaining out of town clients for work. He did not seem to be upset that I could not go so I let him be. The next thing that I know, he reconnected with an old friend from high school that he had a crush on years ago and they started to have an affair! I had no clue what was going on until a month after he came back from London.He proceeded to see both her and I until I caught him testing her one night. I confronted him and he told me the truth about what happened. We broke up and went our separate ways. Neither of us fought for our relationship. I was angry and decided not to be upset about it and just keep it moving. Then after about a month of not speaking to him I became sad. I wanted him to tell me that he wanted to be with me and not her. I contacted {Prophet AMEDE} for a love spell prayers and he totally helped me! he was able to get him to miss me to where he wanted to get back together again. He had a lot of regrets and felt bad for not fighting to keep me and for cheating in general. He values our relationship so much more now and we are together now! You can also get your lover back with the help of {Prophet AMEDE} contact him through his phone number +234-813-264-2680 or email: amedehealingtemple@yahoo.com

  7. Heather Putney says

    Your post has really helped me. Currently, I am dating a non-believer
    that honestly loves me and I love him. Throughout the years we have
    always been in an on and off relationship simply because of my faith.
    However, I will say that I am witnessing his curiosity about Jesus and
    my faith more so lately. Please pray for me. I honestly believe that my
    story will end like yours. I just need to trust in Jesus.

    • Harvey says

      This is what happened to me, only I was the non-believing boyfriend. My devout girlfriend (to be my wife) simply started taking me to her Catholic Church which I was happy to do since it both made her happy and I was extremely curious about it all. Being an ardent atheist for decades, I was surprised at how it all started to draw me in: the beauty, the peace, the songs, the love. I noticed how well my girlfriend would be able to deal with life’s struggles as she explained how her faith guides her. I wanted the same, so we started praying together, and eventually I’d do so on my own.

      Very long story-short. I’m about to enter RCIA and, after my conversion, we will get married properly and in what was formerly her Church and is now our Church.

      • Az says

        Hi Havey, can you please share how it happened to you that you started to believe? My boyfriend is an atheist and he said that it’s hard for him to believe in something without a proof. Have you asked God for proof (oh well when you’re stil unbeliever for sure you won’t ask God coz you don’t believe in His existence) or you did something? How?

        • Harvey says

          At first, except in rare cases, an atheist wouldn’t consider asking God to believe. For me it all started with the Mass and having an open mind, that is, not prejudging what I see. I didn’t understand the Mass and my girlfriend couldn’t satisfactorily answer my many questions, so I started reading about it. These readings led to other questions which led to more reading and understanding.

          But the above isn’t for any atheist either. I was motivated, at first, in wanting to be closer to my girlfriend and noticed the way her faith gave her strength. I concluded that the best reason to believe in God isn’t because you’ll go to hell if you don’t, but because that is the path to your ultimate growth, light, learning, and happiness. Yes, there are others but this reason is one of many for belief, and (for me) an acceptable one.

          Also, though I am heavily into physics/science, I realized that I accept indirect evidence in relation to so many other things: evolution, the age of earth, the origins of the universe, quantum physics, etc. so why did I insist on having direct evidence for God when, for almost everyone else including atheists, indirect evidence was acceptable too.

          The above realizations, along with a willingness to join my girlfriend in prayer, helped soften my previously hardened convictions. I started praying to, at first, be open to belief. And, from a place of love, this can be something that an atheist may be willing to do. I even went to a certified hypnotist to both understand the origin of my atheism as well as to help me rework being more open to a belief in a more spiritual frame of reference which, in my case, I decided was God in the Catholic sense of its meaning. The hypnotist merely helped me work on being more open to spirit; I did the rest.

          The main thing for the atheist who is considering another choice is to realize that believing in God doesn’t have to mean removing one’s beliefs in the power of science. It doesn’t have to mean believing in magic but, rather, a belief in God can completely conform with scientific discoveries, including the Big Bang, Evolutionary Theory and more. It doesn’t have to mean an end to personal growth and could, indeed, mean a continuation of this very important aspect of a life well lived.

          I realize that I have far to go yet and welcome this journey. But, for now, the opening has been created and passing through it promises to be quite an experience.

          • Az says

            Thanks a lot for sharing. I pray that God will move to my boyfriend. All i can do is to pray for him, i tried to force him and even breaking up with him but i realized nothing will work, nothing will convince him except God.

            Sometimes he is saying some unusual phrases to me like;
            1. “thanks for waiting for me (to be a believer maybe?)”
            2. “Thank you for not giving up”
            Etc. but i don’t want to expect coz maybe i’m just assuming?

            Again, thanks for sharing. I pray that you will encounter and know more about Jesus in your life. He loves you so much that He used your girlfriend as an instrument so you will know the truth. Godbless you both.🙂

        • Harvey says

          I converted during this last Easter Vigil. I knew that, as part of the conversion, I would go through Confirmation, a confirmation of one’s Baptismal promises. I’ve always been a man of my word, and in making this promises it made clear to me the vows I must keep for the rest of my life. So, I’ve come to the point where I am in full communion with the Catholic Church for life and my previous atheistic self is gone. I don’t preach to others but my decision is complete and I love every minute of being Catholic now.
          The funny thing is I actually go to Mass mid-week because it sets me up for the day. My fiancee doesn’t do that. 🙂 She told me that I’m inspiring her!

  8. Amanda Jakson says

    After being in relationship with Harry for Five years, he broke up with me, I did everything possible to bring him back but all was in vain, I wanted him back so much because of the love I have for him, I begged him with everything, I made promises but he refused. I explained my problem to someone online and she suggested that I should rather contact a spell caster that could help me cast a spell to bring him back but I am the type that never believed in spell, I had no choice than to try it, I mailed the spell caster, and he told me there was no problem that everything will be okay before three days, that my ex will return to me before three days, he cast the spell and surprisingly in the second day, it was around 4pm. My ex called me, I was so surprised, I answered the call and all he said was that he was so sorry for everything that happened, that he wanted me to return to him, that he loves me so much. I was so happy and went to him, that was how we started living together happily again. Since then, I have made promise that anybody I know that have a relationship problem, I would be of help to such person by referring him or her to the only real and powerful spell caster who helped me with my own problem and who is different from all the fake ones out there. Anybody could need the help of the spell caster, his email: druguelspellhome1@gmail.com you can email him if you need his assistance in your relationship or anything. CAN NEVER STOP TALKING ABOUT YOU SIR HIS EMAIL ADDRESS IS: druguelspellhome1@gmail.com CONTACT HIM NOW FOR SOLUTION TO ALL YOUR PROBLEMS

  9. Cne' Mitchell says

    This helped me so much , I trust in my faith that one day my boyfriend will accept Christ for himself. Its such a touchy subject but my God is a great God and he can make anything happen . thank you so much for sharing this.

  10. Ruth Ireland says

    I am in the same position as you, and we must have faith that those will love will come to know God as we do. All can do for now is live our lives as an example, so that others can see what it is to know God. I will pray for you and our situations. Never give up hope 🙂

  11. Ruth Ireland says

    Hi Heather, I was reading through this post after searching for some support for my own relationship as my partner also doesn't believe in God. I found strength not only in reading this article but in reading posts from others in the same situation as me! As I said to Cne we must live as an example, and be strong in our own faith and ask God for wisdom in our situations. I will pray for you also and know you are not alone!

  12. Anne Hahn Sipe says

    Andee, I grew up with Joan and Edd, and I've often wondered how Joan became a Christian. She had gone to some church things with me growing up, but not much. I am so happy to read this story and to know how it came about. I am very pleased that Judy also was baptized. Really enjoy reading your posts.

  13. Madison says

    Andee, thank you so much for sharing your story! I found this post on google when googling about my situation. It is so encouraging to read your and Edd’s story and it is unbelievably helpful reading the posts on here. I am madly in love with a non-believer and have been praying about it like crazy. He is wonderful–kind, patient, compassionate, intelligent, interested in the same things as me, and is willing to occasionally go to church with me. He says he hasn’t had an experience yet to make him believe. I so badly want him to and I pray for that every day. I’ll be praying for you ladies who posted here and I ask that you pray for me and my boyfriend. Andee, thanks again for sharing!

    • Kristen says

      I can agree with you Madison. 🙂 Im also in the same situation as you are and everything you mentioned is exactly how my boyfriend and I are. I will pray for you. After reading Andee’s story and your comment, I feel so comforted and encouraged and that I’m not the only one. I have an unending love and patience for my bf and I know that forcing or being pushy or even random with the gospel can turn him away being that he is an atheist right now. Ive never pushed or forced the idea because I know that ultimately it will be up to the Holy Spirit to work in him and help him change his mind and views about religion, in my case, Christianity. All I have been doing is continuing to live my life as an example by being my happy and blessed self that God has given me, and be proud and happy about my faith in a fun, chill, and non charismatic way. All we can do is to be an example and pray for one another as much as possible and leave it to God. Im hoping and trusting the Lord that He may use me as an example and a testimony to my bf. Im going to continue to pray for him and myself as well encourage and inspire him and leave the rest to God. I hope it goes well for you Madison. I will be praying for you as well. God bless.

  14. Precious B says

    Hi All thanks for posting your comments,Im in the same situation and I get courage to see that Im not alone, and that there is hope that my partner can come to Christ. I will always pray that God can help us all who are facing this situation and I believe that nothing is impossible with God.Be blessed.

  15. Azi says

    Hi Andee, thanks for sharing your story. I know that your story is not my story though i am experiencing your previous situation now, it might not happen to me. So i am really worried if i’m gonna let go of my boyfriend or just give it a try, pray and wait until he will change his mind and believe in God. Most of the blogs are telling Christians to escape or run away from a man/woman who doesn’t love God. What can you advice me?😔

  16. Sanya says

    Thank you for sharing this. Was looking for support and assurance that dating non-christians can also be in God’s will. When you goggle dating non-believers its usually negative.. but i believe my boyfriend who an athist will come to know God. He came with me to church for a few months as he know how important it is for me. He riddiculed the litegy… the way we recite things… the way Christians seem weak and have an over dependence on God. He believed logic and reason was the answer to everything.

    As months went by, he started asking me to pray for him… his troubles in life… for peace.. for his sister to conceive… for his collegues daughter. He started to call me and say pray for me… i want peace. I was shocked but i prayed nevertheless as we need to do our part and God will do the rest. He still occasionaly went to a hindu temple as he grew up in an hindu family.

    He started to get more and more distrubed. He would say i cant sleep pray. I feel a void in my life please pray. I still am. I hope these are signs that God is working mightily in him.

    🙂

    • Azi says

      Hello Sanya. Months ago, i was really struggling with my atheist boyfriend, i have no peace! I broke up with him but because we love each other, we decided to continue. At the beginning of our relationship, i keep on pushing and pressuring him that he MUST be a believer, that he MUST try it but it’s USELESS. What i observed is when i started NOT to talk about God or Christianity, when i started not to push him, what i did is just to live my life to please God then he saw how my lifestyle and faith are parallel. He then told me that for the things out of my control, let them happen, just be calm, so he meant that let God do it if God do really exists. These non-believing people won’t ever believe in God when they see HYPOCRISY, so since they don’t believe in the bible, WE should be the living bible for them to see that God do exists. Just surrender to the Lord your relationship, admit to God that you cannot save your boyfriend but Him alone. Just like this story shared by the author, God took the action.

      • HarveyL says

        You are soooo right. My Catholic girlfriend, now fiance, lived her Catholic life and, after sharing with her (Church, praying, etc.) I turned from lifetime atheism to Christ, slowly at first, but now I’m planning to convert. I still can’t believe this happened to me, but it did.

        • Azi says

          Harvey, you’re really one of the inspirations for us. Giving up is not a first choice, just let God do the action.😊

          • Harvey says

            I will be converting to Catholic this Easter and plan to live my life by deepening my faith. I am finally at peace with it all and find that this life was what I was meant to live.

  17. Ben says

    Thank you for sharing! I am having the same issue, whereas i’m the man with the faith and my girlfriend is strongly Athiest. We find it hard sharing our views and beliefs because it always ends up with my girlfriend always wanting to stop because it is getting too much. I pray for her everyday, I pray that God will help me help her find Christ. I’ve had people pray for her with me, and she doesn’t know I do all this for her. I hope, to one day take her to church and to “New to Christianity”-friendly Christian events like Spring Harvest (UK only). This article has given me some hope for our relationship, so I have to thank you a lot. Her name is Zuzanna, any prayer or help is much appreciated. Thank you!

    • Azi says

      Hi Ben, i’m in the same situation. God told me that i am not a savior and Jesus is the Savior. Whatever we do, they will never believe in God. Do not pressure your girlfriend, just love and respect her. Also focus on your relationship with God, as long as there is no compromise in your relationship (like premarital sex,etc.) God will save her. And if she is God’s will for you, God will guide you throughout this battle but if she is not God’s will for you, God will change your heart and will give you the strength to surrender. Listen to what God is saying, do not just be drowned by your emotions.😊

  18. Dion says

    Hi! I need help, I’m actually dating my boyfriend who’s a freethinker and he called me crazy, insane , radical , extreme ; etc.. over God. here’s some background info. I actually came from an evangelical faith denomination and for some reason churches that I attend in the past are very strict and they honour God a lot. They instil a lot in being proactive in our walk with Jesus. Thus this has mould my character and walk in God rigidly. I came back to church today for the Christmas service and I told my boyfriend about it. He’s pretty chill and he gives the vibe whereby ( you do your thang and I’ll do mine , and we’re cool) so after I came back from service I felt a calling to walk right again with God and so he asked if I’m going to do it weekly. I replied yes and he was shocked. I know it’s pretty common for unbelievers to feel this way but I kinda expected it anyway. I tried to invite him to church( without praying and fasting first , so i knew it wasn’t going to work) and he used all sorts of reasons to deter me from delivering the word of god. I eventually gave up and decided that probably he had the wrong concept what is christianity is all about. He went to church about 6 years ago and he told me about the common untrue things that we hear in church for e.g. ( judgment, gossips and backstabs) , thankyou foryour time , i would like to hear from you for suggestions and some advice. 🙂

  19. Nicole says

    Thank you lady, for sharing and inspiring me, am a lady believing for my boyfriend’s personal revelation of God as well. Our lives are indeed a living testimony of the bible.

  20. adeline says

    Thank you all for sharing and commenting. I am surprised and amazed that many people face the same situation as me.
    My current boyfriend who isn’t a christian.
    He attended church service for about 2-3 months and he stop coming for service. During that period when he attended church service, I can see how God started changing him and speaking to him. It was really touching and it give me faith that God is so real!
    Then something happen that make him stop coming to church service. I was angry and upset with him actually. But then I pray to God to give me the love and grace to accept him for being like this.
    I believe that God have already planted the seed in his heart.
    We need to believe and have faith in God.

  21. Linda says

    Hi there!

    Im dating this guy from which i was in high school with last year and we are in love, as i got to know him he is a very nice sweet guy and humble…for i while before when i new him earlier there where alot of things that happened in his life as i understand further he started developing feelings for me and i tried avoiding him for a long time ..the main problem is i was having a problem with his faith’ he says he doesnt believe in God, he says God doesnt exist, he also says religion separates people and makes them supirior, i ask him why! we go for hours on end..he comes up with the most rediculous reasons saying how can you belive in something that you dont know whether He exist”I started taking a sole discicion not to give up and pray for him ‘i also asked God whether if he put this person in my life for a resone becuase hell always come hunting for me whether my phone is lost or stolen or ive gone ghost…lol, i still love him and i pray Jesus will tpuch his heart,, i belive that he belives becuase he has once mentioned God in his coversation with his freinds….i love that hope ,for me the main resone why he like that cuase of how he grew up seeing his gran pray and questioning why things are not happening …i belive in Jesus and if he can turn the heart of Pharo he can turn my boyfreinds heart, we are not in a sexual relationship but have that deep connection within time and distance cuase now hes away but still is commited to communicating with me..please help

  22. MAT says

    I’m currently in almost the same situation as most of you are. I am a Christian, and my boyfriend (de-churched) is now an atheist thpugh he attends Sunday services (I am a worker of an evangelical church) mostly because of me and not because of his faith. Though he’s open to the teachings –
    only absorbs the morals.

    We’ve known each other for a few years and in a relationship for more than a year now. I know from the very beginning that we don’t share the same faith. Although we treat each other right and love each other very much, I cannot deny that it is a problem that we’re trying to hide under the rag. I want to spend the rest of my life with him, but I don’t want my relationship with the Lord be compromised. It’s so difficult. Although I am holding on to my faith that the Lord will break us and change us both so that we’ll be right for each other and for Him. I would love to have a family that has Christ as the center.

  23. Megan says

    I found this by a chance google search and I just wanted to thank you for writing it. I never comment on this type of thing but I just felt compelled to. I fell in love with the most incredible man, who would consider himself agnostic if he were asked to classify it. After some really hard thinking, I ended the relationship and he knew why. Even though he was very supportive of whatever I wanted, I didn’t think I could be with him. So several weeks later, here we are and he comes to me wanting to learn about Christianity. There’s a much longer version but in short, our journey in this together is just starting but thank you for the inspiration that these things really can work out.

  24. Ai says

    while reading this post, it really gives me a chill, I have been praying lately for the same encounter. I am excited for what the Lord is going to do. I know everyone has a different story to tell, but what gave me hope is that we have One Big God who can do great things.

    This post has inspired me a lot.
    Thanks a lot for posting.

    Blessings to you and your family.

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