Testimonies

Viktor Zeegelaar

Pelican
Orthodox Inquirer
I thought it'd be helpful to have a thread about testimonies. Especially since so many of us have come to the faith only in recent years. I'd like to start of with my own story and then I'm very interested to hear how you came to the faith.

I grew up in a complete secular environment in the NL. Basically we have a small Biblebelt with a couple of hundred thousand reformed protestants and some Catholics in name in the South, but that's it. We have 5% Muslims and if one religious group is visible on the street it's them by far, from tiny villages to major cities where they represent 50% of the population. It would be fair to say that I personally had my first encounter with genuine Christians when I was in my mid 20s and met people from other parts of the country. Up until then I genuinely can't remember ever have had a conversation about the faith or even people who spoke out they were Christians vividly and publicly. Sure I'd have met Christians before, but they were very good at hiding it apparantly. So in my mid 20s frustrated as many of you with my material life I dove into the PUA scene and that erupted into the lifestyle scene. Build your value, LMS, material success, all of these things became important whereas they hadn't played a single role up to then. What it did is it destroyed my confidence and brought me in a state of utter density and tenseness, always looking for more, never satisfied, whereas I come from a very loving family where albeit I wasn't taught practically anything about life, morals and building a life there was abundant love and the idea that you could be yourself and love yourself, have confidence. So while I found in my early 20s that that confidence was based on no skills and knowledge hence I fell deep into the red pill sphere when I moved on myself desperately looking for the truth, touching in the dark in every area in my life, at least I had abundant confidence and self love before that. Now that all being gone and my material life imploding, being unhappy, deaths in my family, and then cojona hit. Since then followed the Roosh Hours zealously and started to participate on RVF too. That brought me into study of the faith for the first time and from the start I knew instinctively Orthodoxy was the only way for a truth seeking person like me. That's all I want, the truth, regardless of the consequences. So I dove deep, got into Dyer, fr. Spyridon, all these people you know too, read the Bible for the first time, looked questions up that had been bothering me and still were, dove into Church history, the saints and started to understand the differences between protestantism, catholicism and Orthodoxy, seeing the numerous theological errors that pervade protestantism like a Swiss cheese, and the worldly power and money character of catholicism that had always bothered me, Orthodoxy being the only serious way to go for its history, continous journey towards theosis and spiritual and not intellectual and worldly foundation.

So it was a long process with a lot of suffering and cognitive dissonance, changing my world view from week to week, day to day, hour to hour and albeit not so extremely that's still the case. But I'm on the road that I know I should be on regardless of the consequences I want to pursue this path. Christ is the only way out. There's nothing in the material world that can remove your suffering, I've tried almost all of it except of drugs. I'm not participating in Church yet nor can I remember having ever visited a serious liturgy besides Christmas when I was a child, but I'm looking around me for options in the area I live in where there are Orthodox churches due to past migration. I hope people earlier in their journey and still in the intense suffering and cognitive dissonance phase finding out the truth about God, but also the whole cojona and NWO stuff can find some solace knowing that your suffering will inevitably lead to shutting all the doors except the one where the light is, Jesus Christ. God bless you all, this forum is very helpful and I find great value in it.
 

wiseape

Pigeon
Orthodox
As a Catholic convert I was always drawn to history and tradition. When traveling, I would attend Eastern Rite or Traditional Latin Masses. I later joined a Gregorian Chant Schola and had the pleasure of singing the ancient prayers oh the church in many masses, here and in Europe.

Over the last 20 years the Catholic church has entered a death spiral. We see that in many cases the very worst men are sustained and elevated in the hierarchy to become its leaders. We see parishes where the median age keeps creeping up and up.

As a group we lamented the state of the Catholic Church, and attributed much of this chaos to a failure of liturgy. Fix liturgy and many, many other things follow. We observed how the hierarchy had become hostile to tradition and how the liturgy had become increasingly banal and susceptible to abuses. As singers we marveled how Directors of Liturgy (why is there even such a title?) inexplicably favored sappy emotional hymns to the rich treasury of sacred chant and polyphony. Why don’t people sing? Is the music that uninspiring? And is the answer really more guitars and drums?

I also had a sense that my own dissatisfaction with the modern liturgy was endangering my eternal soul. I was distracted at mass. I was bored. I was saddened by the apparent suicide mission that the Catholic Church is on to destroy itself, beginning with its own roots.

The first time I stepped into a Divine Liturgy two years ago I knew immediately I was at home. The whole liturgy is sung! There are no people slouched over in the pews (there are no pews!) I didn’t fight it. I knew the Holy Sprit had taken me home. For me Orthodoxy has been a saving refuge for my soul. Orthodoxy presented me with valid Episcopal orders, valid sacraments, sound liturgy and, importantly, a new approach to spirituality that is based in history, scripture, and reason.

I entered into full communion with my local Orthodox Bishop and the communion of Orthodox Bishops world wide last year. I feel very grateful that my soul has found shelter in these demonic times in a sanctuary of holiness and grace.

Hope this helps.

In Corde Iesu,

Lazarus
 

OrthoCole

Pigeon
Orthodox Catechumen
I come from a nominally Protestant upbringing. Attending various "non-denominational" churches in my childhood. Although my family did not identify with a particular Protestant sect, we were essentially Baptist in our theology. Through no fault of my parents, I become disillusioned very early with attending church services and being involved in church life. I found it boring, and incredibly fake. Part of that is true but part of it was my hard heart and overly judgemental attitude. So of course at the age of 15, when I started driving and working for myself, I stopped attending altogether. This is the portion of my life I call "no man's land,"

At this point, I was living a moderately secular life. I didn't do anything too rebellious but I lived like any average secular person would. I worked, hung out with friends, wasted my time with a girlfriend, etc. I wasn't too ambitious about anything during this time. If you had asked me what my religious affiliation was, I would've said "Christian," and I would've meant it too. But looking back I think a better label would've been "religiously apathetic." It's not that I disbelieved in God, or that I was agnostic on the subject, I just didn't care. I didn't think about God too much, I wasn't interested.

During this period in my life, I naturally replaced religion with something else. In my case it was politics. I viewed history, economics, morality, culture, etc. all through my political framework. My political affiliation was the same as many other young males who come from a nominal christian conservative background in America: Libertarianism. I was extremely zealous about this philosophy. I was never actively involved in any political action but I watched the seminars, read some books, listened to podcasts and even wrote some articles for a popular libertarian blog. I used all of this as a replacement for God, it was truly an idol. And just like many libertarian men in the aftermath of the Donald Trump election of 2016, I began to drift more towards the right. Again, I never got involved in any kind of direct political action. It was merely an affiliation in my own mind. My views on moral and cultural issues became more conservative and my sensibilities about where America was going began to change.

I began to see the value in tradition, morality and religion as building blocks for any coherent civilization, and how America has drifted so far from resembling a normal, functioning nation. So this change in my politics lead me to investigate my own religious tradition; Non-Denominational Protestantism. I started listening to sermons and debates from Calvinists, Arminians, Baptists, etc. Particularly on topics of soteriology, creationism and atheism. I then stumbled upon topics regarding christian history, why it's important and why it matters to us in the modern day. This lead me to investigate the Protestant-Roman Catholic dialectic. It was new to me, what the Roman Catholics were saying appealed to my western desire for epistemic certainty and the Protestants appealed to my basic understanding of Scripture that I was raised with. Not long after I began my investigation of western christian history, I stumbled upon Orthodoxy. My older brother (who was a Calvinist) was the first one who mentioned, "Eastern Orthodoxy" to me. He had read a lot of Dostoyevsky in college, and had an affinity for Orthodoxy as well. This opened a whole new world to me.

At this point in my story it's fall of 2017. I'm 22 years old, losing interest in my political idolatry, trying to sift through debates on religious topics to see where I fall in line and then suddenly I'm introduced to Orthodox Christianity. I was amazed by the beauty and the mystery of it all. I didn't understand it intellectually but it began to speak to my heart, something that never happened (and never has happened) in my search through Protestantism or Roman Catholicism. I began reading articles, watching videos on some topics of theology/worldview and how they compare to western forms of christianity. Shortly after, I attended my first Divine Liturgy. I was nervous and it was difficult, being pampered in seeker friendly Protestant churches my whole life left me ill-equipped to struggle through the divine service. But I loved it anyway. I didn't attend Orthodox services regularly, as I hadn't yet committed myself to any church but I was on my way. I felt as if I still needed to investigate Roman Catholicism further before taking the dive into Orthodoxy. Protestantism was at the back of my mind now, for me it was a battle between Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism. So I attended a Novus Ordo Catholic Mass nearby.

And it was... good. The people were nice, the building was large and very clean but it lacked spirit. Another way of putting it; it lacked Grace. But the Roman Catholic Mass, as nice and pleasant as it may be was absolutely NOTHING in comparison to the Divine Liturgy I participated in at the Orthodox Church. Even though the Orthodox parish was small and crammed full of people, my back and feet were sore the entire time, I was sweating and uncomfortable, it was still far superior to the Roman Catholic Mass. At the end of the day the Roman Catholic Church was like an upgrade to the Protestant churches I grew up in but nothing more. So after my pleasant experience at the Novus Ordo Mass I became determined to become Orthodox Christian.

However, it wasn't immediate. I still wanted to study things, work through my own doubts and personal struggles but I eventually was lead into the Church as a Catechumen in September of 2019 at the same parish where I attended my first Divine Liturgy. Which is where I am now. I'm still a Catechumen, and still learning. Although my knowledge of theology and church history has matured overtime, I'm still drawn into Orthodoxy for one reason; it is here where I encounter Christ, it is here where I'm pulled deeper in union with God. It's been a long, difficult journey and if you've read through this entire post then you can see why, and there is still so much more I can say but maybe at a different time. I still see myself as being at the beginning of my journey. I have a long ways to go but I'm enjoying every moment and can't wait to see what the future holds.

God Bless you, and God Bless His Holy Orthodox Church!
 

tractor

Woodpecker
Orthodox
I was born and raised in the post-commie Russia. So my religious background was basically a "blank slate". Of course, many churches and temples were reopening in the 90s and my father got baptized at some point but I never heard a prayer out of his mouth, he never went to the local church. He had a cross, yes (didn't wear it though), but the only "religious" thing he did was to plunge in an ice hole on the fest of Epiphany.

I'm not sure about my mom but she seemed more into astrology etc., i.e. that kinda non-religious "new-age" kind of stuff Fr. Seraphim Rose wrote about. She definitely wasn't in any kind of sects. I think her interest in this "spritiuality" was very superficial. I remember she always bought me and my brother small calendars with our zodiac signs. Zodiac signs, what a plague it was back then! Asking someone about his "sign", was like saying "hello". So pervasive was it. She also had a "book of names" (desriptions of names, their meaning and predestination). When I was a teenager, she started to buy quasi-scientific journals which regularly featured stories about the UFOs. I loved those.

When I went to the college I became a liberal shill at some point. I think it was in 2010-2011. I wanted Russia to move towards the EU, to become more "liberal" and "free". I hated religious "bigots", although I was not (yet) pro sodomy.

When I moved to Germany to study political science glorification of the Western liberal thought, United Nations, EU, globalization and global (((governance))) I of course became even more liberal and pro sodomy. I remember arguing with my wife about the Christian "biggotry" of not accepting sodomite "unions". If I remember correctly, I angrily called her a bigot.

My first awakening was not a religious one. I think God wisely chose to dismantle my idols first. He started with "everything Western (minus religion) is good".

2015/2016 I was writing my master thesis and suddenly there were muzzie terror attacks and hostile invaders in Germany. After that I started questioning the "infallibility" of Western democracies, their "checks and balances", their "NGOs" the international organizations.

So in 2016 I was ready to accept Donald Trump as the messiah because I believed that his populism would eventually triumph in Europe. I followed the likes of Gavin McInnes, Steven Crowder, PragerU - basically, every Zionist out there.

I have to give credit to Owen Benjamin for highlighting the weird "homo-conservative" alliance (is true for Europe too). I started questioning conservatism and came to the conclusion that the "conservatives" only conserve their vision of the "normal" from 20 years ago. Then I asked myself why is it not conservative enough for me? Anti-tranny but pro-gay, anti-gay marriage but pro divorce; anti-abortion but pro-contraception etc. So I realized that conservatism was through and thourgh a secular movement and if I don't like it maybe I should take a look at the Bible for a change (I also read Pat Buchanan's "The death of the West" in 2017 but his conclusion that the West is dying because Christianity is dying was a hard pill to swallow back then).

Also, the birth of my son in 2019 strengthened me in my endeavor of reading the Bible because I suddenly wanted to raise him Christian to protect him from all the decadence. We baptized our son Lutheran in June 2020 and I followed in August. Hand on my heart, my baptizm didn't change a lot. The Lutheran approach doesn't require repentance other than renouncing Satan. I received my first communion without confessing all my "right hand adventures", sex outside marriage, blasphemy from my liberal times etc. Egregious sins that I wasn't required to wash away before receiving the Blood and Body of Jesus Christ! No wonder I continued porn consumption, being angry about politics, making jokes about God.

Then came Roosh. I think I discovered him on Owen Benjamin's channel when Roosh visited Owen on his tour through the United States. I knew the name Roosh V before but thought that he was some gay muslim (no offense, Roosh). I was quite surprised to learn he was an Orthodox Christian and started learning more about the Orthodoxy. Also digging deeper and deeper, I started thinking that the Catholic Church wouldn't be enough for me.

All of you remember November 2020. I was under severe shock for a couple of days. And this was the final blow God gave to my idol of politics. Don't put your faith in politicians! Left, right, center - doesn't matter. If the controllers want it their way, they get it no matter what and people won't care.

I don't know why this idea popped up in my head. I decided to start year 2021 with a church service. And I thought "why not find an orthodox church in my city". I was pleased to learn that my city has a Russian Orthodox church, I called the priest and talk to him briefly. Then I went to the Liturgy on January 3. I think I felt like the evnoys of Vladimir the Great who confessed that they felt the presence of God when they attended the Byzantine Liturgy.

And then this choir's chant struck me "Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help." (Psalm 145/146) That's what I needed. When I stepped outside after an hour and a half I knew I would go back.

I was re-baptized Othodox during the Great Lent 2021 and the change in me - with God's help - has been profound. Of course, I know I have the seed of decay in me but thanks to our great tradition, our glorious Apostles and Church Fathers and our saints I'm very alert and willing to humble myself.

Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
 

tractor

Woodpecker
Orthodox
Other great testimonies:

Fr. Josiah's testminony starts at appr. 1:30 (until 8:30). But the whole conversation is of course a gem.


Shilling for Roosh's book for a change:

Also:
 

Lawrence87

Robin
Orthodox
Like many people who grew up with Western Christianity, when I began to explore spirituality I looked to the East, not to Eastern Orthodoxy, but to stuff like Buddhism and Hinduism etc. My flirtation with this came in two stages. In my early twenties I got really into Buddhism, then I had a period of being a hardcore atheist for a while, then I got back into Buddhism etc in my late twenties.

The major issue with Buddhism is that meditation is touted as being harmless. That you can do no wrong by reading about it and trying it yourself in a completely self directed fashion. In reality this can lead to spiritual confusion. This, combined with the fact that I was picking and choosing different aspects from not only different traditions in Buddhism but also aspects from Hinduism. This resulted in a state of extreme spiritual confusion. I wanted to make progress but I couldn't, I felt conflicted as to which tradition from which religion was the way forward. Eventually I felt in such a state of desperation and confusion that I haphazardly prayed for "whatever is out there" to bring me some guidance in the form of a dream so that I could progress in my search for the truth.

To my astonishment I had a very powerful and symbolic dream that evening. I felt very much like the content of the dream was confronting me with my sinfulness. At the very end of the dream just at the point of waking up I heard a voice that said "you will find answers in Christ."

I was struck not only by the fact that my prayer was answered specifically, but also that it was an answer that very much did not appear to have come from me. I had rejected Christianity over a decade prior to this and generally thought myself above it...

It took my a while to come around to fully embracing it, but whilst researching it, it became clear to me that Orthodoxy was the true church. And so here I am.
 

lskdfjldsf

Pelican
Orthodox Catechumen
Gold Member
As with many other Catholics grappling with VCII issues and the Pope, I spent most of my time in Trad circles. I was alarmed by many outright bizarre beliefs in these Trad parishes (e.g. obsession with Fatima, veneration of Mary crossing the line into worship, etc.) Parishioners seemed to have a "bunker" mentality where they'd cope and twist themselves into pretzels over the state of the post-VCII Church, becoming very hostile and defensive toward newcomers in the process.

The arguments for Orthodoxy were compelling, but some of the vicious extremes in the online community kept me away (sorry, I know they have fans here). It seemed more like a hostile, prideful debate club for e-celebs than the Apostolic faith. I began speaking with a local priest and attending in person initially just to dispel these impressions. To my surprise, I stumbled upon the kindest parish I've ever encountered, as if God put it on earth just to refute my preconceptions. Absolutely welcoming, no masks, anti-vaccine, women wear modest dresses and cover their hair. The priest has a lot in common with me and is a fantastic spiritual mentor.

Everything in Orthodoxy is in the right proportion, in the right place, and with the right focus. I trust the Church more and its consistent, continuous tradition of faith. Instead of fixating solely on the legalism of sin, we find ourselves in a state of constant spiritual growth, shedding the bad and nurturing the good (Catholic legalism vs. theosis). The emphasis on prayer and making the home a "second church" have both made a remarkable impact on our lives so far. It is physically and spiritually demanding, especially with children, but we finally feel at peace.
 
At 20, 21 years ago, I read my way into the Catholic Church through preterism. This view of Revealing (Revelation) that states most, if not all, of the "end times" prophecy was fulfilled by the end of the world in 70 AD. During the first Roman-Jewish War, Titus utterly decimated Jerusalem and the Temple - exactly as Christ predicted less than a generation before. A radical new way of life was necessary. Now, the Temple is the body, the Sacrifice is the Mass.....

The Apostolic (Catholic / Orthodox) Church has some measure of preterism as its understanding. My last remaining Southern Baptist evangelical pro-Israel ect. was wrung out totally by EMJ.
 

Pantheon

Sparrow
Orthodox
I began with hating Christianity. I just couldn't stand how spiritually empty and sentimental the church seemed to be. Learning of Orthodoxy was of course different, it was untainted by modernity. Becoming Orthodox I came to see modern Christianity more like an illness or delusion than a legit religion so I try to have more patience with it. But I still can't stand Protestant sects and the way of seeing the Bible as some kind of dead, forensic document that is interpreted with scientific goggles in endless hair-splitting debates to get to the objective "truth". It's like sorry, only the Orthodox Church has the truth, the Bible doesn't "speak for itself". It is not the Quran that just fell down from heaven.
 
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