Dustin, 25, California, USA
I grew up in the Catholic Church, but I was never a believer. I prayed because my family prayed, but I was certain that no one was listening. When I entered high school, I stopped going to church. Soon after, I announced my atheism to my father.
By the time I entered college in 2012, I’d concluded that life had no underlying purpose. I figured that after we die, we simply cease to exist. It was a hopeless and fairly dreadful point of view, but I believed it to be true, so I tried my best to come to terms with it.
After graduation in 2015, I became a sales representative for a large tech company and quickly climbed the ranks. At age 23, I became the company’s top sales representative. With that success came an indulgent and fast-paced lifestyle. I partied a ton. With time, I started to get hooked on cocaine.
Things began to shift in September of 2017, when my best friend Nick told me that he wanted to kill himself. During our conversation, he shared that wished he could believe in God, but he just couldn’t. I didn’t know what to say. I felt pretty hopeless.
That night, I had a dream that I was in the Olympics. I was walking around a stadium full of people and Jesus Christ kept coming up to me, asking if I believed in Him. I kept saying no, but He kept coming back. He asked again and again and I continued to reject Him.
The dream eventually shifted scenes and I found myself in an airplane flying over a forest, preparing to skydive. As I jumped from the plane, my parachute broke and I plummeted towards earth. As I neared the ground, Nick’s sister appeared in the form of an angel. She asked me if I believed in Jesus and, without hesitation, I said yes. “You’ll be saved,” she replied. “But I want you to save my brother.” I agreed. I woke up right before I hit the ground.
I awoke to what I can only describe as a tsunami of love crashing over me. It felt as if there was honey covering my entire bedroom. I couldn’t move — I was just crying and crying. As Scripture says, it’s a peace that “surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7). In that moment, I recognized that God was real and that He truly loved me. I was born again.
In the following weeks, I kept hearing a quiet voice in my head saying “You’ve been saved. Quit your job.” Each time I heard the voice, I would also have a vision of a parachute. This happened a few times, until I finally quit. I’d always wanted to travel, so I booked a one way ticket to Europe.
Right before I left for Europe, I attended a family wedding in upstate New York. This was a year after my grandfather’s passing, so it was a bittersweet event. As I rode from Boston to upstate New York, I described my encounter with God to my aunt and cousins. “I feel like God is real now, but I’m having doubts,” I told them. “This parachute seems like it’s a sign from God, but I need more proof.”
Five minutes later, my cousin yelled “Look!” and pointed to the sky. I kid you not — a man was parachuting down right next to us. What’s more, that parachute was at the exact same angle as the parachute that appeared in my daily visions.
Despite all of this, I still had doubts.
As I boarded my flight to Europe, my thoughts were with my late grandfather. I was still deep in grief, so I asked God for a sign that my grandfather was in Heaven. I told God that if He gave me a sign, I would follow Him, without a doubt.
When I left the airport, I heard His gentle, soft voice telling me to stop at a museum on my right. As I was talking myself out of spending money on a ticket, I realized that there was no one at the front desk. I entered the first exhibit and was greeted with “We’ll Meet Again,” which is a song about heaven that my grandpa always sang to me. It was a song that I’d never heard anywhere but in my grandpa’s presence. I collapsed to my knees and sobbed. Again, I felt the love of God wash over me. I met Jesus, really truly, in that moment.
I exited the museum and came face-to-face with a tattoo parlor. I’d been considering getting a tattoo for a while now — a parachute, for obvious reasons. I figured this was as good a time as any. When I walked inside, I found that there was only one chair and a man was already in it. The artist told me to come back later. I’d normally just walk away, but I felt the urge to stay. I’d just found God and wanted the tattoo to symbolize this exact moment!
“I really need it now,” I pressed. Crazily enough, the tattoo artist kicked the other guy out of the chair. I felt horrible about making him leave, so I apologized and tried to explain my situation. When I asked about his tattoo, he told me that it was a tattoo of Satan. So, that day, Jesus kicked the Devil out twice — out of that chair and out of my life.
After a few months in Europe, I arrived back in the States. Nick and I had a falling out soon after and didn’t speak for over two months. Finally, while riding the metro to church one evening, I felt God urging me to text him. He replied immediately, apologizing and sharing that his depression had worsened and that he had planned out his suicide. He asked what I was doing and I told him I was on my way to church. To my surprise, he asked if he could come with me.
When I found Nick at church, his appearance shocked me. In the two months since I’d last seen him, his muscles and bulk had wasted away. He wasn’t just lean; he was skin and bones. He sat next to me the whole service, arms crossed, looking bored.
When the closing worship music began, I heard that small voice telling me to get on my knees. I did. Suddenly, the purple stage lights grew blinding. Looking at the stage was like looking at the sun. I had no choice but to look away. As I turned away, every sound in the room cut out. It was as if I was watching everything on mute.
Then, without warning, my spirit lifted up over the congregation. My spirit was up at the top of the church, looking down at everyone, but my body was still in my seat. I then heard a booming, authoritative voice say “Mission complete. Your friend has been saved.” It was undeniably the voice of God in Heaven. His voice was as audible as thunder in the sky; in fact, to this day, I believe thunder is modeled after God’s voice.
At that exact moment, the Holy Spirit came onto Nick and he started to cry, laugh, and raise his hands in worship of God. He later told me, “I don’t know what just happened, but I believe in God.” He said that he saw blinding purple lights and felt an overwhelming, supernatural love. He became a Christian right then and there. Today, he no longer has suicidal thoughts and is sober for the first time in a very long time.
I was on the fence about Jesus for so long, but the truth is now so evident. Take it from me, a former atheist: God is real! He came to earth as a human, lived a perfect, sinless life, and atoned for humanity’s sins. Salvation and restoration is now available to each of us!
Pursuing Jesus is the best decision you can ever make. He loves you so much; He created you and He desires a loving relationship with you. Our faith isn’t about rules or religion, but about relationship with our Creator and the Lover of our souls. There is nothing that compares to the daily love and joy I find in Christ.
We will all meet God and face judgment for our sins. As Scripture tells us, we have all sinned and fallen short of His glory — but as followers of Christ, we can meet Him with total confidence that He will accept us into heaven.
Believers, continue praying for your lost loved ones. I had people praying for me and God was faithful in his pursuit. He chased me down and He’ll chase them, too.
“‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.’” (Acts 2:17)
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)