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It seems I posted on a very bad day, when many posts were deleted because of a server crash. Luckily I made a backup of my text. So I repost my testimony. English is not my native language. I don't say this as an excuse for my writing, but because I might not be familiar with all the English christian jargon. As a result I probably am a little more descriptive about general terms. Now that I wrote it all down more and more side-stories come back to mind, there is much more than influenced me or hurt me than I wrote down. But then again, I suppose the story is already quite long. And as we all know by now: "text is the worst medium to spread truth" Hi everyone. I just discovered this website last week, and I'm so glad that I did! For some reason I lived with the illusion that I was one of the only christians that ever got out of their religion .. or at least the only person that still ponders about it. It's been 12 years ago that I managed to let go of the christian faith. Somehow I never went looking for other victims, I just wanted to live my life and try and help the people around me. I now realize that wasn't enough, because I still carry a lot of hatred with me regarding the christian religion. From time to time this hatred is triggered and lately it's so strong that in desperation I was looking for a place to ventilate it a bit. I came across this forum and reading a few testimonies on this websites already helped me a ton. I'm shocked how strong the religious pressure has been on some of you and I respect it so much how you managed to escape after being dragged so far in. Here is my story: I live in the Netherlands, and I was raised in a pentecostal family, together with two younger sisters. My father was raised a catholic, my mother pentecostal. My father never truly accepted the pentecostal ideas and was always in debate with everyone. Unfortunately this never led him out of christianity completely. I suppose it was good for me that he learned me it's a good thing to ask questions. At young age I turned out to be quite talented in music. I could play the piano extremely well for my age and had a perfect memory for remembering music. This talent lead me to my first doubts; as far as I remember. I don't know how old I was exactly but I was bothered with the gospel-music. Really bothered. I understood the structure of this music so well, that it bored me. I could perform every piece played in church from memory on the piano. I wasn't proud of it, it was no challenge! I had to practice Chopin, Mozart, Bach, now that was hard, but the gospel was just simplistic. I wondered why God wanted to hear simplistic music every Sunday. He inspired good composers to write beautiful and complex music why did he want to hear this gospel-stuff all the time? The answers I got weren't very satisfying. The music is holy, God shows himself through that music, they told me to listen more carefully. Although my dad understood me (he is a musician too), he told me my talent was unique and most people don't experience these depths in music. He told me the christians are just celebrating how happy they are with Christ and this music is what they understand, they can remember it, sing it, express it. I learned that day that God "tolerated" the crappy music, because his people just didn't know any better. What I didn't understand was why I never heard that "deeper layer". The music bothered me, I was always very glad it was over. People were stretching their arms and holding a hand in the air when they sang, closed their eyes. It creeped me out a little, why would they do that? This music is empty.. As young children we were just happy to play soccer before church started, and when my parents drank coffee afterwards, we could play for another 30 minutes or so. Church itself was just a thing I had to go through to be able to play some soccer, it wasn't too bad. But then a friend of my parents was in need. This friend started a church 1,5h drive away from home, and asked my father to play the piano there for a while, until he would find a pianist who lived close by. We went there for almost 2 years! Meaning we had to drive 3 hours of our Sundays, and my parents were always the last people to go home. That was a rather big time investment to play soccer! After a few months/years I learned that church was not about soccer, but it was to learn more about Jesus. Somehow I can't recall much of the early Sunday schooling. I remember we had that awful singing part and then they would guide us to another building where we would make stuff using paper, glue, I dunno, silly things. I only remember that I thought about heaven and hell a lot, so I guess they talked about that. At the age of 11 ( or 12?) we were old enough to attend the adult sermons. We had different people preaching each week and I noticed that not all the ministers were very smart. They would make comparisons to explain God, and I almost always found a flaw. One example I still remember was that the minister said "God is like a kite on a long line. If you let the line go long enough you can reach a point where you can no longer see your kite. But you know it's still there because you can feel it, that's how we can be sure God exists too. God works the same way." I didn't find it necessary he would try to proof God exists, but since he did, I wondered why he would make such a silly comparison. I told the minister he made a mistake. I told him that the true reason that convinced me the kite was real was because I would have held that kite in my hands, would have seen that kite go up, before it would be out of my vision. His answer was simple: we have seen God work so often, if we feel him that reminds us that God is still at work. I didn't argue with that but I felt it was flawed. The above example actually happened when I was a little older than 12 but it was one that I recall vividly and one that I questioned. I heard many bullshit comparisons.. I just accepted it because God was so powerful and great, you can't really compare him to anything on earth. In the Netherlands, a "christian" highschool is just a name. They aren't teaching the christian faith at all. Many people with atheist backgrounds would go there, simply because it was the closest school to their house, so I was in a class with many atheists. And very importantly, I had a lot of friends in my neighborhood that were not christians. I liked these less restricted people better than my christian friends. Some music (because of the texts) was forbidden, neither was I allowed to read books about supernatural beings, witches etc.. , I didn't understand that. God was supernatural himself! I talked to God, he was fine with me exploring things. I didn't see the harm. Well, people told me I was hearing Satan, not God. This frustrated me from time to time. Strangely enough my parents sometimes accidentally let me read books from the library that sometimes had 'occult' themes in it. Anything magical, like flying or mind controlling I found extremely interesting. When I recalled that Jesus walked on water I thought it should actually be possible to do these things if I just believed. But I couldn't shoot fireballs, nor fly, so I thought my faith wasn't strong enough.. I didn't understand though why my parents would think of these things as occult. Wasn't Jesus' walking on water just as occult? When I was 14 I had to go to church a 2nd day in the week. On Saturday evening! When I would usually hang out with my friends, I had to go to these teenage meetings. Including camps that swallowed my entire weekend! These teenagers were silly people. Not only did they act like some of the adults (the hand raising and stuff) they restricted themselves from listening to certain music, and they told of the visions God gave them (strange stuff, just as flawed as the stuff I heard the ministers say). Sometimes they would talk complete nonsense just like the ministers (talking in tongues?!). God certainly didn't give me that nonsense. One day a minister lectured us about Satan. He told us Satan was the BIGGEST deceiver EVER. He could pretend to be everything and everyone! He was very dangerous. Only through the holy spirit could we distinguish fake from truth. I was talking to God a lot, and I didn't understand that holy spirit thing. But the ministers told me of the trinity, and from what I understood in some way Jesus, God and the holy spirit were all one. So the holy spirit was just a form of God, the form that could speak to me.. Made sense.. So I could be certain I was seeing the truth. But that didn't explain why all the other people in my church talked so strange and had such flawed logic sometimes. Then it struck me: THEY ARE ALL POSSESSED WITH SATAN! It all made perfect sense. They were not talking to God, but they were all deceived. Satan was the master deceiver, he somehow managed to infiltrate the church. I learned that day that almost all the people around me were deceived. I was the only one that still knew how to speak with God, God was telling me I was surrounded with deceived people. All of them! I recall how the Sundays afterwards I felt the church was a lot darker. I imagined Satan being everywhere around me. In the silly dancing, the handraising, the stupid remarks of the minister. They were all EVIL! I didn't know how to express my feelings, I didn't want Satan to find out I figured out his secret. A few weeks later I realized there was a flaw in my thoughts. My parents were still loving and caring. And even though the people in church seemed retarded, what harm did they really do? Their innocents made me calm down a bit, but triggered the pondering question: "if these people get to hell because they are deceived, who will go to heaven?" Their intentions seem good enough, that wouldn't be fair. Since I could see they meant to do Good, then surely God wouldn't allow them to be send to hell? That day I decided that as long as a person lives by his own moral standards, God would see in that person's heart and will allow that person in heaven. I learned in school about physics and learned about space and the infinite universe. The concept of infinity had me intrigued. I couldn't accept infinity. That universe for example should have a limit. there should be like an impenetrable barrier, like a shell... but for picturing that barrier, I also pictured something should be beyond the barrier. I discussed this a lot with a good friend. Some day we were trying to figure out where hell and heaven are.. We figured that in infinity it's kind of odd to put a heaven and hell somewhere.. Well the reason was easy, so that hell and heaven could expand. Made sense at the time. But it left me wondering why we would go to a restricted world when we die, while there is so much space outside heaven and hell. Without realizing it then, I was questioning the bipolar worldview of end-time. You are born, live you life, then be judged to go to A or B. That wasn't very satisfying, I rather imagined I could go "everywhere".. the strangeness of this picture bothered me a lot. In church I heard in a sermon Jesus went Up to heaven.. up.. up.. that was weird too, what is up? Depending on the exact moment that he left earth, he could have left earth completely in the wrong direction. Did he change his path when he was in space? How long did he have to travel to reach heaven? For two more years I kept going to church and the questions built up fast. How can God judge a person, what are the exact criteria. Will God punish everyone around me for being deceived by Satan? Or maybe i was the one deceived and I would get punished. That didn't seem fair neither way. I was trying hard to believe, but I just didn't know WHAT to believe. Either me or they were wrong. I started doubting the voice in my head. Was it God or Satan? Or was it just me? Why does God allow Satan to exist if he is a loving God? Why would he let people burn for infinity if they make a wrong choice based on an impossible to make choice. That 'infinity' bothered me again. How can you feel pain for infinity, won't you get used to it at some point? Or will you just lose consciousness and dream? More and more questions, and I didn't like going to church anymore, they only confused me more. That crappy music, those silly sermons, they didn't have the answer. It was important that I would find God, and the teachings of the church were distracting me! I read the bible, I read of a God of War in the old testament, and how he loosened up a bit later on. That didn't make much sense.. An omniscient being was changing? Like a human? I had even more trouble with the idea that God was Learning. If he exists and has existed forever, outside of "time", how can he even think? Thinking is a progress, and a progress required time I learned in physics. So how can you progress outside of time? That's not possible. God can only "be" and "know". That idea was powerful to me. It is exactly what the bible said. God being omniscient and omnipresent, that's because he is. But he is clearly not thinking, that's not necessary. He already knows. Church confirmed that idea: yes, they would tell me, you got it figured out, God knows everything and is everywhere. I believed in God again, but I slowly disconnected the bible in the story. That can't be real, they are describing a linear God, that's not omniscient. God had emotional issues too, that doesn't make sense either. I was struggling to go to church and had a lot of arguments with my parents about not going to church. I had no choice. I already managed to convince my parents to go less to these Saturday-night meetings. Until one day there was this camp-thing again. I didn't want to go, I was furious. I explained my parents all my thoughts and they were supportive and still they wanted me to go! I didn't understand my parents. I had no choice, I went. People noticed my fury and tried to calm me. Actually they were quite nice. I heard a minister speak and I liked the guy, he seemed honest.. the entire camp had actually a positive vibe to it. I started singing (I always refrained from singing that crap). At some point I noticed my one hand raised. It felt good. I went home and felt a little changed. I talked to this with my mother and she explained that I felt God that day. Like lightning I awoke the day after more furious than before that camp. This circus had just mind-controlled me! Somehow in a weak moment these people managed to get me to become like them, even though it was all a fraud. The biblical God can't exist, Satan can't be real. What was I thinking?! I felt so stupid for falling into that trap. I refused to go to church since that day (age 16). I got in a fight with my parents. They grounded me, didn't allow me to see my friends anymore, they tried everything. Members of my family trying their best to convince me, and all I saw were dump people, that fell in a trap. I never changed my mind and there attempts to get through to me strengthened me. Eventually my parents gave up. Luckily at that time there was internet, I could look for everything I wanted to know about. I learned about many different worldviews, science and over time I accepted my truth was truth, The biblical God can't exist. Since nothing can't be "created" outside of time (creating is also a process), either nothing has always been, or everything has always been. Since we see a world around us and I think to exist, I accepted "everything that is has always been". If that "all" has a mind we call God, then I'm a part of that same mind. After all, the universe started in a singular point, we all come from the same source. I left the house as soon as possible, age 17, to study music. Breaking up with church was the best thing I ever did. I still heard that voice in my head. I didn't care if it was me or God, it gave me comfort to talk to myself/him. And I received fortune upon fortune since that day. To sum up a view things that happened since: I fell seriously in love for the first time (although that didn't work out in the end), I found a nice job, build up stronger relationships with my friends, I was happy. When I went to study in another town the day I was looking for an apartment I picked up a conversation where a guy was looking for someone to take over his student apartment. I turned around and told him I heard his question and that I was looking for one. That evening I got the apartment. It turned out to be one of the most wanted apartments in my town! I was a bit lonely after a while and was looking for a girlfriend. The day I realized I was lonely I met a girl in the local bar. A musician, like myself. We connected so well, I never experienced that before, but I was not in love right away. That took a few months before I realized that. We're still together for almost 10 years now and I never met anyone as wonderful as she is. When I needed a piano, my teacher give me his second grand piano for free(!), when I wanted to write for orchestra i won an competition allowing me to write for such an orchestra. I'm very successful in my profession as a music composer. My success and luck helped me see there was no angry God that was trying his best to get in my way. Quite the opposite, if there is a God he has been very supportive since the day I left my church!! "He" couldn't have given me a better confirmation that I did the right thing. I do need to address that hatred I mentioned earlier. I have an aunt who is a missionary. Thank god did she move to the U.S. when I was around 8 years old, so she couldn't influence my parents too much. From time to time she would visit the Netherlands though and judge my parents and me. When I broke free of the church my mother didn't dare tell my aunt I left church so she said I was just a little in doubt. This made me furious, I knew very well what i was doing and I didn't feel I was taken seriously by my mother. She cries if we talk about this for too long, so even today we haven't spoken about this enough I feel. Every time my aunt is back I am reminded of the christian days. She has three children that I loved when I was younger but they are completely ruined; they are just as retarded as the people in my old church, more so even! If only they were given the same tools and learned how to think for themselves.. Well anyway, my aunt triggers the anger I still feel, activating anti-missionary mode. I hurt people's feelings some times for being insensitive about their believe. I can't help but feel they are retarded. Brainwashed to a point where it is no use to reason with them. I am harsh to the people that show no change, though I'm kind to the people that I feel have a chance to "awake". Especially people that live in fear; those I like to help. Hell doesn't exist, it makes me sad people fall for it and have a less rich live because of that fear. There are family gatherings where I am confronted with the stupidity I detest, and I'm not honest to them, I just act like I don't have much of an opinion about their religion. When I'm confronted with this for too long I feel the same anger I had when I was young. I still don't know how to get rid of it. I feel an urge to kick their heads in to make them understand. I never understood blind faith, I wasn't drilled enough I guess. I helped my youngest sister deconvert and my oldest sister I feel is opening up slowly. My parents left their church for not feeling at home there anymore for their idea’s are changing slowly. For my mother this is hard, but she was raised a lot more strict than my father. I hope I show them the light one day. I believe that everyone has the right to know the truth. And if I can help people see the light, I’m very much willing to assist them on their journey. Thanks for reading my story.