Doubt can often times carry a stigma for Christians, but it’s an important part of the faith journey, especially for young adults.
“I think doubt is really common; partly it’s the process of spiritual growth, partly it can be a healthy piece of the journey and a part of owning your faith, and a lot of that does happen in our late teens and in our twenty’s. Our faith has to go from being something we were told to believe to something that we own and something that we can articulate for ourselves; something that we have been tested and tried.” – Kelli Worrall
Peter encountered doubt along his faith journey for the first time as a missionary in his late teens. He shares about his experience:
“I went to Pakistan as a one year missionary when I was 18. My doubt started when I encountered a Muslim country that was behaving better than I was.”
Sometimes our preconceived notions can increase our doubts.
“I know we hear lots of bad things about Pakistan, quite frankly, they’re a little bit overblown; there are pockets of violence, it’s like the city of Chicago that I live in. There are there are some bad neighborhoods here, but you wouldn’t run down all of Chicago because of that.
“I thought being a missionary was ‘outbehaving’ them. So I was trying to be as nice as possible and they were being nicer; they were giving me their last chicken that they had saved and were giving it to me for meals. That was how the doubt started in my late teens…then I went to undergraduate school.”
Peter continued to struggle with doubt as a student,
“I come from a conservative, biblical foundation which I still hold to now, but I was being taught by people in a Christian school who didn’t believe actually in the transcendent God. My main lecturer was a lesbian Catholic and it was she who, when I was trying for defend some of my ideas in an open forum, just shouted out across the room, ‘You’re a moron! Nobody believes that kind of stuff anymore.’ She would actually try to single me out in classes for my beliefs and just go after me.
“That’s how the beliefs were challenged and that’s how the doubts arrived.”
An important part of Peter and Kelli’s personal ministry is to remind their students at Moody Bible Institute that it’s okay to have doubts and to express them in a safe environment.
“When we talk to our students at Moody, some of them do experience different pieces of doubt; they can doubt different things about God and about the faith, sometimes it’s the very existence of God, sometimes it’s just His love for them. We encourage them not to ignore those thoughts, to articulate them, to acknowledge them, and to enter into conversation.”