My father was (and still is) full-time in the Lord’...

Jeff
My Story 
My father was (and still is) full-time in the Lord’s work, traveling up and down the east coast every weekend to preach in various churches, running a Christian camp in the summers, and spending a month at a time 2-3 times a year doing missionary work in Guyana. I finished high school at a Christian school, received a four year degree from a Bible college, and then did public relations work for that college for over four years after graduation. However, I always wondered what life was like “on the other side.” Looking back, I think I was raised in a strict home and that kept me from making mistakes when I was still under my family’s watchful eye. I “asked Jesus into my heart” when I was 11 years old, and then was around 31 when I left the faith. It was January 2000 when I had my “born-again” experience in L.A., though it was that following summer when I finally totally gave up my sin and fully repented.
What are some things your family did well in responding to your departure from their faith? 
My parents were told by my first wife about my adultery, and my father called my hotel room in Vegas that week (where I had taken a female employee for a week) to leave a message on the room’s phone telling me how disappointed they were in me. That saddened me, but at that part I was too far-gone to want to change direction. As for my wife, she put up with my first two acts of adultery but had enough when I continued. She truly was long-suffering.
What are some things your family could have done better in responding to your change of faith? 
I don’t think my family could have done anything different to change my behavior, though looking back they probably were a little strict during my childhood.
Can you share an example of how the church responded well during the time you were leaving faith? 
The church my wife and I had been attending up until I “fell away” told me I was not welcome at the church anymore, and I’m afraid that only sent me running in the other direction.
Are there ways that the church or those in the church could have responded better to your departure from their faith? 
I think they could have been accepting of me as an individual while at the same time condemning my sin.
In the responses of Christians, what surprised you most? 
Many Christians gave me the benefit of the doubt and forgave me at first, but ironically once I finally returned to the Lord some of those remain unconvinced (even after almost a decade of faithful service and ministry, and restoration of my friendship with my first wife).
Was there a particular event that had a negative impact on your leaving the faith? 
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Was there a particular event that had a positive impact on your return to faith? 
Spending a couple weeks in L.A. (on assignment for a magazine in NY), I spent some time with my aunt (my wife’s sister). Aunt Mary looked just like my mom and had a voice that was just like my mom’s, but she was active in the Wiccan faith and that startled me (that she believed so differently from my mom). I was torn between my evangelical Christian upbringing and the girl I had been dating (who claimed to be a Zen Buddhist) and the girl I was spending time with in L.A. (who was a practicing Catholic), and that caused me to find a Bible, drop it open and ask God to reveal the Truth to me. The passage that I opened to was Psalm 51, which is a psalm of repentance that immediately hit home the reality of my situation. I broke down crying, asking for mercy from God.
Since God is willing to make something good of all things, have you felt that some good thing has emerged from your journey? 
Since I have been through what I’ve been through, as a result of my selfishness and sin, I can truly relate to others who are going through similar challenges to their faith (or lack thereof). I could not have done that before “falling away.” After my divorce was final (I tried for over two years to “win” my wife back after my born-again experience in CA, but by that time she had fallen in love with one of my employees. However, the Lord brought a woman into my life who desperately needed a father-figure for her two young children, and needed to begin attending a Church that offered the “meat” of the Word rather than the “milk” of the church she had gone to previously. My wife is a much stronger believer as a result of marrying me, and her children are now being raised in a godly two-parent household.
If you were able to step back in time and chat with yourself what might you say to yourself? 
It’s not worth it!!!!” I lost a beautiful and godly wife, and our daughter has definitely been negatively impacted by our divorce. God has turned everything around for the best, but I still feel the pain of having hurt so many people (including not being the godly husband and role model my first wife desperately needed me to be).
How would you advise parents of a prodigal today? 
Love th