I Stopped Going To Church: The Freedom To Choose

While I was in High School, my parents made the move to the States. As you know it’s not usually very easy to get a US visa, so they(we) decided that I would finish High School in Kenya and then I’d try to get a visa to move after that. This meant that my “holiday of freedom” in 2005 was just the first of many. (You can read more about that here). Around the same time, my brother Mwaniki and I started going to a new church. My dad had been reassigned by the Headquarter Church to Pastor a small church in Dandora whose attendance had dwindled after their Pastor abandoned them. This is the church my dad currently pastors.

Not having parental supervision at home, meant that I was free to come and go as I pleased. The good thing is that I didn’t turn into a rebellious party girl. I still had that reputation to uphold.  Also, Proverbs 22:6. What I did do, however, was a started to compartmentalize my life. I was living in Kiambu, going to school in Nyeri and to church in Dandora. These places have different cultures and the people have quite unique personalities. I developed the ability to adapt to each of these cultures and be “one of us” wherever I was.

This compartmentalizing became my life. As I transitioned into adulthood and came into new circles, I kept developing new characters, adding on to my already existing ones. I pushed boundaries and experimented with new things. I often found myself trying to figure out who I really was. I desperately wanted to be the simple, Christ loving, centered person I was when I was in church and/or by myself. But I was too afraid to be judged by (and/or lose) the friends whom I had chosen not to show this side of me.

Eventually, my separate worlds started to collide. In 2009, my dad decided to move back to Kenya. He took over the church and brought some “new” teachings for the Youth Ministry. One of the lessons he enforced was the teaching in 2 Corinthians 6:11-18. Based on this scripture he made a rule that none of the youth of our church should have friends who were unbelievers. I know it was coming from a good place, but I disagreed. I am not good with confrontation, so I never brought it up. But I treated it as you would a stop sign in Kenya; just a suggestion. I found out the hard way that he meant what he said. I won’t bother you with the details, but we had an argument and the ultimatum was, I was either going to stop hanging out with my ‘unsaved’ friends, or stop going to his church. I went with door number two.

So, there I was. All my life I had either been a member of my dad’s church, or gone wherever the school I was attending at the time determined. I was lost. What was I even supposed to be looking for in a church? I decided not to bother looking for a new church and spent my Sunday’s watching movies at home or hanging out with random friends. After about a month away, I missed my church friends and decided to go back. My dad was so happy to see me back that he never brought up that story of unsaved friends again. The responsibility of making this decision had once again been taken from me and I was so glad. Unfortunately, this wouldn’t last long, I would eventually be faced with this choice again…

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