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: firstname.lastname@example.org, 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.
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.