Kirsten Powers’ reluctant journey from atheism

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By Mark Ellis —

Kirsten Powers
Kirsten Powers

She worked for the Clinton administration, became a liberal pundit for the Daily Beast and a regular Democratic contributor to Fox News. On top of that, all her friends were agnostics or atheists. So when God pursued and won her reluctant heart, she was more surprised than anyone else.

“If there was one thing in which I was completely secure, it was that I would never adhere to any religion—especially to evangelical Christianity, which I held in particular contempt,” writes Kirsten Powers, in a first-person account of her conversion published in Christianity Today.

The daughter of archeologist parents, she attended the Episcopal Church in Fairbanks, Alaska, but never really believed. Whatever shred of nominal faith she possessed was due to respect for her father, a brilliant man who taught himself to speak and read Russian.

After her father began to express his own doubts about Christianity while she was in college, she fell headlong into unbelief.

“What little faith I had couldn’t withstand this revelation,” she noted. “From my early 20s on, I would waver between atheism and agnosticism, never coming close to considering that God could be real.”

Powers worked in the Clinton administration for six years and rarely saw any open expressions of religiosity. Then she moved to New York to work in Democratic politics.  “My world became aggressively secular. Everyone I knew was politically left-leaning, and my group of friends was overwhelmingly atheist,” she observes.

The first crack in her anti-faith armor emerged when she dated a Christian man. Immediately before this, she told a friend the only deal breaker in her dating world would be someone religious.

After they dated a few months, her boyfriend called to say he had something important to discuss. When he came over to her New York apartment he looked at her intently and asked, “Do you believe Jesus is your Savior?”

Her heart sank when she heard the question. She thought he might be slightly crazy. “No,” she replied.

“Do you think you could ever believe it?” he asked. Then he told Powers he wanted to get married and felt that she might be the one, but he couldn’t marry a non-believer.

“I don’t want to mislead you—I could never believe in Jesus,” Powers told him.

“Do you think you could keep an open mind about it?” he asked, hopefully.

“Of course; I’m very open-minded!” she replied, even though she knew it was not completely true in this instance. Inwardly, she found his faith “an oddity to overlook, not a point in his favor.”

A few weeks later they went to church together, and a few things surprised her. First, she didn’t realize a Presbyterian could be an evangelical. “When we arrived at the Upper East Side service of Redeemer Presbyterian Church, I was shocked and repelled by what I saw. I was used to the high-church liturgy of my youth. We were meeting in an auditorium with a band playing what I later learned was ‘praise music.’ I thought, How am I going to tell him I can never come back?” she writes in Christianity Today.

But when Pastor Tim Keller began to speak, she found herself completely engrossed in his message. “I had never heard a pastor talk about the things he did. Tim Keller’s sermon was intellectually rigorous, weaving in art and history and philosophy. I decided to come back to hear him again.”

She found herself returning for more, but one thing disappointed her about his messages – his mention of Jesus. She left each week with some frustration, wondering, Why did he have to ruin a perfectly good talk with this Jesus nonsense?

As Keller propounded the case for Christ, she began to question her atheism. “He expertly exposed the intellectual weaknesses of a purely secular worldview. I came to realize that even if Christianity wasn’t the real thing, neither was atheism.”

Soon Powers found herself reading the Bible. At the same time, her boyfriend was praying that God would reveal Himself to Powers. After eight months of listening to Keller, she concluded that the weight of evidence was on the side of Christianity.

Still, she didn’t feel any particular connection to God. “I continued to think that people who talked of hearing from God or experiencing God were either delusional or lying. In my most generous moments, I allowed that they were just imagining things that made them feel good.”

Encounter with Jesus

Then something very unusual happened to Powers on a trip to Taiwan in 2006.

“I woke up in what felt like a strange cross between a dream and reality. Jesus came to me and said, ‘Here I am.’

“It felt so real. I didn’t know what to make of it,” she recalls.  She called her boyfriend the next day, but before she could tell him what happened, he said he had been praying the night before and felt they were supposed to break up.

While she was upset by the break up, she was more “traumatized” by the mystical, mysterious visitation by Jesus. “I tried to write off the experience as misfiring synapses, but I couldn’t shake it,” she notes.

Powers returned to New York a few days later, but felt lost and confused as she tried to process her growing consciousness of God’s presence. “I suddenly felt God everywhere and it was terrifying. More important, it was unwelcome. It felt like an invasion. I started to fear I was going crazy.”

She sought out the advice of a friend, author and cultural commentator Eric Metaxas, whom she knew to be a Christian. “You need to be in a Bible study,” he told her. He recommended a study taught by Pastor Tim Keller’s wife.

When she walked into the Bible study she felt desperate, unsure how she would ever tell family or friends about her emerging faith.  She thought no one would understand because she didn’t really comprehend the changes unfolding in her heart. “I had a knot in my stomach. In my mind, only weirdoes and zealots went to Bible studies.”

Powers doesn’t recall what Kathy Keller taught on that day, but when she left the Bible study she knew everything had changed. “I’ll never forget standing outside that apartment on the Upper East Side and saying to myself, ‘It’s true. It’s completely true.’ The world looked entirely different, like a veil had been lifted off it. I had not an iota of doubt. I was filled with indescribable joy.”

In the next few months, a tug-of-war between faith and doubt returned at intervals. She did her best “to wrestle away from God,” but found it was futile to run from Him.

“Everywhere I turned, there He was. Slowly there was less fear and more joy. The Hound of Heaven had pursued me and caught me—whether I liked it or not.”

 

If you want to know more about a personal relationship with God, go here

18 COMMENTS

  1. This is so, so, amazing!! Jesus is so real. His promise to give us His peace and His assurance that He will meet us right where and when we need it if we truly seek Him. This is encouraging.

  2. I would like to share my own devine encounter with the living Lord Jesus: This particular insident I narrate happened in 1996 . I came to this true salvation of Christian life while working in Qatar. This particular incident I am narrating here happened the the day before my wife receives the postal message frome that I have accepted Jesus as our saviour: The Lord wakes up my wife in the midnight and asking her to pray. Normally she used to have her usual Hindu prayer, and then only she goes to sleep. But here the Lord insisted her to wake up and to stand on her knees to pray. As a devout Hindu, this was definitely a strange experience for her.A Hindu nver stand on the knees and pray. But whatever command she received from ABOVE she obeyed.As she stood on her knees , she could feel stange power passing through her body. Tears started running down from her eyes. After the prayer she experienced never before peace in her heart. Next day, when she received the day’s post, and as she opened the letter , she couldn’t help crying out “Yesu”! Because, for the first time she came to know through that letter that her husband who is working in Qatar has accepted Jesus as Savior and has obeyed water baptism. In that letter, there was a photograph taken on the occasion of baptism. So she realized, indeed that it was the Lord Jesus who woke her up the previous night!
    This incident truely became a turning point in our spiritual life. Never have we ever looked back since this incident !

  3. I’ve noticed the change in her over the last couple of years. It’s nice to see that God uses different means to reach people..the key is responding to the Holy Spirit when He calls.

  4. Thanks Kirsten for sharing your encounter with my “Lord & Saviour Jesus Christ – ptl.
    God is real, He is working – it emphasis what I know it is that “We serve a risen Saviour – He is in the world today”.

  5. I have been praying for you, Kirsten, for a long time. I pray for a number of people, especially for those presenting our news these days. I sensed a difference in your commentary on Fox News and felt the conflict you must have been experiencing. Just yesterday I told my husband that I believed you must have changed your “belief system.” Again I praised Christ Jesus for His working in your life to help you know and trust in the fulfillment of all His promises for your personal restoration. What a joy to learn that you are relying on His Word and trusting in His Holy Spirit to make you truly righteous before our Living God. Scripture will never fail you, because Scripture interprets itself for those who seek discernment with open hearts and minds. I praise God this day that you are numbered with us “weirdos” and “zealots” who can walk in the Word of God daily and know beyond a doubt that God loves us exceedingly, abundantly, and with everlasting faithfulness. Trust me, the beauty of His love in you has been transmitted across the airwaves of television directly into the heart of this 72 year old adult Sunday School teacher. God answers all our prayers in His time!

  6. Thank you Kristen for being completely honest. I know we are all on a journey, and those who will follow the truth wherever it leads will experience liberty. In John 14:6 Jesus says that he is the “Truth”. Again thank you for being intellectually honest.

  7. What a great blessing and joy to hear of your new faith, Kirsten. Several years ago as I watched you on Fox News I looked into your eyes and began praying that you would meet Christ personally. I can’t help but wonder what role God will have you play in His Kingdom and in the spreading of the Good News of Jesus Christ. Joys and hardships await, but He is faithful.

  8. Kirsten,
    Praise God. I have prayed for you to know Jesus on a personal level in a personal relationship. I have also prayed for President Obama to know Him personally and to do what the Holy Spirit calls upon him to do. Our Lord is good and faithful – you will reign with Him in eternity. Praise God !!

  9. Kirsten,

    My wife and I noticed your speaking out on behalf of persecuted Christians worldwide. We noticed a change in your countenance and the evident joy in your smile. We wondered if indeed you were a believer and now we know “the rest of the story”. Keep up the great work as a journalist and speaking out on behalf of the persecuted church. We are so thankful for you and your testimony. God bless.

    Andy and Carla Walsh

  10. I always thought Kirsten was a very lovely and gracious person. One of the people on Fox not so prone to interupt others sentences,God love em, thought about sending
    Roger Als {sp} a messege to get them an “indian Talking Stick” to cut down on the interruptions,LOL. But Kirsten was seemed gracious with a willingness to “listen”. Now I hear about her journey to faith. How cool. I hope she knows she will probably get some flack from certain quarters being a public person but she probably already knows from scripture to rejoice in this. When I first stared reading the Bible in earnest it was like all kind of resistence was coming at my mind but I just kept on plowing through and reading andthis eventually went away. My own jouney to faith took some unusual crooks and turns. To help Kirsten in her new journey I would suggest she purchase a cd by “The Isaacs” called “Natural” beutiful, beutiful, edifying music. Their grandparents survived the Holacaust and their parents were “saved” at a christian friends funeral in Brroklyn, strange twists and turns ,huh. I would also suggest she listen to Dr David Jerimiah and the late Adrian Rogers on radio in her area. Also get in touch with Dallas Seminary and get some of their literature to grow fast in the faith. To her parents my question is I know you love Kirsten greatly as she does you, and although I don’t believe they may be atheiest , if any atheist parent or child feels that all this love between family and frineds just ends at death, what a sad,sad, commentary to me. This family love and love of friends is one thing that makes me believe it doesn’t end at death but just goes on and on. So much interesting stuff to learn Kirsten, hope you will enjoy learning all this stuff. I know I did and God conventiontly placed a person that I could pick his brain daily in this early learning phase. I love you in the lord Kirsten and you are already an inspiration to many I know. Study prophecy, it is so interesting and removes fear and anxiety about current events etc. Chick tracts on the internet are fun, interesting and sound. Only I don’t know if I agree or not on the attack on the Catholic Church. I just prefer to take a live and let live position on denominations. I consider myself a non denominational four point calvinist. Thats the same as a missionary baptist without baptist on the church sign,LOL. I will tell about a vision or something I had in a another messegege as I suspect this one has gotten a little long. Most everybody has an interesting story of their jouney to Jesus and I really like to hear them. I suggest that many of us share our journeys with Kirsten. It’s a wonderful life. Russ

  11. The author of the following is Matthew Henry (I think): the heart of every unconverted sinner is the devils palace. He guards the peace there as a strongman armed. The sinner is at ease and secure. He has no doubts about his own state of goodness. He’s not breaking any laws. There are many worse than him. He says that God will probably spare him and overlook his sins because he’s a God of love and forgiveness. He believes God sees his heart and knows that he tries to be good. The sinner has no dread of judgment to come. But when the soul is converted to Christ, when Christ has exerted victory over Satan, then all the mind, heart, and will belong to Him. Sin no longer has dominion. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
    God bless you Kirsten.

  12. But did she ever actually ASK for Jesus to wash her sins away? Or does she merely have a “Head Knowledge” now that he exists? No where in this article does it say she asked Jesus into her life? She is confessing that she now believes he is real, but no confession of salvation? satan knows God is real. Why is it so hard for someone to say that JESUS CHRIST is my savior and has washed my sins away? Why can’t an interviewer ask point blank?

  13. If Kirsten truly understands Christianity, she would’ve abandoned Democrats (and I don’t mean to become Republican) and Liberalism for all the dishonesty they personify. Good luck to Kirsten on her spiritual journey, but the real first step is to distance herself from the teams of satan.

  14. As I have watched Kirsten on Fox these past years I saw the change. I would tell people she had become a believer. It was so obvious. Her whole countenance was changed. Loved the testimony that varifies what was obvioys.

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