Why I Stopped Believing in Jesus On A Mission Trip

By Emily T. Wierenga

It was the Lin Yeng Temple, a Hindu temple in Richmond, BC, and we were supposed to be praying over the false spirits, we were supposed to be converting lost souls, but I found myself taking off my shoes instead.

I found myself on holy ground and all of my 18 years of being a preacher’s kid did nothing to prepare me for that moment.

The moment in which someone else’s faith in something other than Jesus would be stronger than mine.

The temple smelled of incense and all I could see were the soles of people’s calloused feet, the posture of their bent backs, and I’d never found this in a church.

There was no live band, there was no projector or stage or pulpit, there was just the awe-struck silence of worship.

I tiptoed down those temple steps leaving my faith there at the top, dead, for crows to pick apart.

And we were supposed to be telling people about Jesus that week but all I could do was feed them sandwiches and listen to their stories.

I didn’t have any magical words for them, I just sat there on East Hastings Street in the parks with men and women who had needle marks in their arms and red around their eyes and we did church together, the only kind I knew how, the real kind.

And after a week of serving hot dogs on fancy china and sorting through clothes at a distribution center and watching the homeless fall on the floor during a charismatic drop-in service, my Mum called.

She called the church basement where I was staying with my sleeping bag and my suitcase filled with bell bottoms.

And she asked me about Vancouver and what we’d done and then she said in her British accent, “Emily, can I ask you what’s been going on this week?”

I said, “I thought I just told you, Mum.”

And she said, “No, Emily, I mean, why has God been waking me up every single night at the same time, the past seven days, to pray for you?”

I nearly took off my shoes right then and there.

My faith, it just picked itself up from those temple stairs and ran back into my life all pecked by crows and disheveled, but alive.

Jesus loved me.

He loved me enough to wake my mother up seven nights in a row to pray for me.

He loved me enough to pursue me.

I don’t know why I felt such holiness at that temple, why I’ve never found that kind of reverence in a church, but I know that Jesus Christ is real.

And that is enough.



My memoir, ATLAS GIRL, is releasing this month, and I am excited to give away a copy today.

Our own Mike Morrell says this about #AtlasGirl:
“Emily Wierenga’s Atlas Girl is a heartfelt reflection, poignantly told, of growing up in the shadows and light of ministry life. She spares no longing, sensuality, heartbreak, ambiguity, or epiphany in telling her story. I wish that all spiritual memoir coming from evangelical circles would be this true-to-voice, grounded, and real. Take and read–you’ll be glad you did.”
~ Mike Morrell, journalist and party-thrower; mikemorrell.org, buzzseminar.com

Just leave a comment below to win!

From the back cover:

“Disillusioned and yearning for freedom, Emily Wierenga left home at age eighteen with no intention of ever returning. Broken down by organized religion, a childhood battle with anorexia, and her parents’ rigidity, she set out to find God somewhere else–anywhere else. Her travels took her across Canada, Central America, the United States, the Middle East, Asia, and Australia. She had no idea that her faith was waiting for her the whole time–in the place she least expected it.

“Poignant and passionate, Atlas Girl is a very personal story of a universal yearning for home and the assurance that we are known, forgiven, and beloved. Readers will find in this memoir a true description of living faith as a two-way pursuit in a world fraught with distraction. Anyone who wrestles with the brokenness we find in the world will love this emotional journey into the arms of the God who heals all wounds.”


Click HERE for a free excerpt.


I’m also giving away a FREE e-book to anyone who orders Atlas Girl. Just order HERE, and send a receipt to: atlasgirlbookreceipt@gmail.com, and you’ll receive A House That God Built: 7 Essentials to Writing Inspirational Memoir an absolutely FREE e-book co-authored by myself and editor/memoir teacher Mick Silva.

Atlas Girl_700x175_2

ALL proceeds from Atlas Girl will go towards my non-profit, The Lulu Tree. The Lulu Tree is dedicated to preventing tomorrow’s orphans by equipping today’s mothers. It is a grassroots organization bringing healing and hope to women and children in the slums of Uganda through the arts, community, and the gospel.
Emily T. Wierenga is an award-winning journalist, blogger, commissioned artist and columnist, as well as the author of five books including the memoir, Atlas Girl: Finding Home in the Last Place I Thought to Look (Baker Books). She lives in Alberta, Canada with her husband and two sons. For more info, please visit www.emilywierenga.com. Find her on Twitter or Facebook.

12 Responses to Why I Stopped Believing in Jesus On A Mission Trip

  1. Emily Wierenga July 3, 2014 at 10:50 am #

    Thank you for hosting me Mike! Bless you, e.

  2. Anne July 3, 2014 at 11:04 am #

    I’ve never read anything by you but am really interested in this book.

  3. Pam July 3, 2014 at 11:37 am #

    I’ve been really moved my posts I’ve read about your book…feeling freedom through Christ alone in the passages shared. Thank you.

  4. Traci McNally July 3, 2014 at 12:07 pm #

    I stumbled on to your blog, ‘Not Defined By the Size of Our Jeans,’ via Proverbs 31 Ministries on Facebook. It was by far the best and most moving blog I’ve read in a long time. ‘Why I Stopped Believing…’ equally so. I would love to have a copy of your book. Thank you for being so transparent! It’s a blessing to me! God bless you mightily, Dear Girl!!

  5. Connie Price July 3, 2014 at 2:16 pm #

    Wow! Just the little bit I read gripped me!! Would love to read this!! Thank you for the opportunity to win/read!!

  6. Carol Longenecker Hiestand July 3, 2014 at 2:23 pm #

    Loved this Emily. Just beautiful.

  7. Val July 3, 2014 at 3:33 pm #

    Pick me! Pick me! This looks like a wonderful book Emily! Thanks for sharing your experience here.

  8. Paula Bicknell July 3, 2014 at 4:10 pm #

    I can’t wait to read this book! I follow your blog Emily and love your writing and your heart for Jesus.

  9. E.J. Atkinson July 3, 2014 at 10:58 pm #

    Awesome read! Found you “by accident” (love that) last night…thanks for your awesome talents.

  10. yellobird77@gmail.com August 12, 2014 at 9:01 am #

    It seems I’ve so let go of Jesus, that in the process of demolishing my religious constructs I’ve created a new anti-Jesus/anti-“Christianity” construct.
    I think I’d honestly have a very difficult time reading this book. Perhaps, this indicates that I would benefit? I once feared beliefs not of Jesus. Now, I distrust any that are Jesus related. Perhaps, it’s anger I feel. Perhaps it’s a new freedom I do not wish to lose.

    • yellobird77@gmail.com August 12, 2014 at 9:32 am #

      Actually, I’ve not demolished any constructs as much as had them worn, crushed and washed away by exposure to greater, purer truths. Yeah, I don’t want my boxes back.

  11. Brian David October 7, 2014 at 11:19 am #

    Throwing money at the African people has and will never help them get out of poverty. In 2005, for example, Uganda was forced to issue bonds to mop up excess liquidity to the tune of $700 million. The interest payments alone on this were a staggering $110 million, to be paid annually. In a hearing before the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations in May 2004, Jeffrey Winters, a professor at Northwestern University, argued that the World Bank had participated in the corruption of roughly $100 billion of its loan funds intended for development.

    As recently as 2002, the African Union, an organization of African nations, estimated that corruption was costing the continent $150 billion a year, as international donors were apparently turning a blind eye to the simple fact that aid money was inadvertently fueling graft. With few or no strings attached, it has been all too easy for the funds to be used for anything, save the developmental purpose for which they were intended.

    You want to help people wether there in Africa or Detroit than be an example and lift up your standard to be righteous and seek the Kingdom of God than once you have learned to live free from welfare, benefits, social security, unemployment, etc. all these schemes that are used to destroy the poor in the name of freedom and peace.

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