By Mark Woodall
I am the oldest of four children raised in the Christian Science (CS) church by CS parents who were also raised in the CS church. My paternal grandparents were also raised in CS. Further, I’m a third generation graduate of “The Principia Upper School” (Prin). Prin is a boarding school for Christian Scientists in St. Louis, Missouri.
Despite my pedigree in Christian Science, I have no recollection of ever believing in CS as a child. Rather, I concluded that God was imagined by weak insecure people who needed a crutch in life. Naturally, I was not one of those people. However, in the spring of my senior year at Prin, in a moment of blissful contemplation, I considered for the first time that God may exist. I prayed to a God that I did not believe in to prove Himself to me if I was mistaken and He existed.
Two years later, as a sophomore at Virginia Tech, I came to believe that God existed. He had revealed Himself to me by showing me that when I sought Him, things went well for me, and that when I did not seek Him, things did not go well for me. I knew it was significant to believe that God exists, but I also knew there had to be more to it than that. I prayed for the second time in my life, this time to a God that I believed in, to reveal to me what else I was missing.
No one knew about my prayer or my new belief. Nevertheless, a friend invited me just a few days later to an evangelistic outreach being held on campus at Virginia Tech by Campus Crusade for Christ. I don’t believe my friend’s decision to invite me was a coincidence. In fact, the circumstances by which she chose to invite me were rather extraordinary. She didn’t want to invite me for several personal reasons, but invited me anyway because the thought that she ought to invite me kept popping into her head for several days as she prayed. I don’t believe those thoughts popping into her head as she prayed were a coincidence. Instead, I believe a sovereign God was involved, answering my prayer.
I became a Christian at that event on February 21, 1986, when I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior for the forgiveness of my sins through His death on the cross. To my knowledge, I was the first Christian anywhere in my family tree for at least three generations, maybe more. Eight years after I became a Christian, the youngest of my siblings, my sister Felicia, prayerfully accepted Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior. A year after Felicia became a Christian, my mother, Marilyn, followed suit.
My father, Bob, whom my mother divorced in 1988, is no longer a Christian Scientist. My next younger brother, Dana John, and his wife, Cary, are still Christian Scientists. My other brother, Paul, believes that human institutions, including government and organized religion, inhibit innate human goodness and liberty. Thus, I believe that my family is the sort of family Christ describes in Matthew 10:34-36.
I have been in contact with Christian Way since early 1995. I learned of Carolyn Poole in 1986 upon reading Dave Hunt’s book “The Cult Explosion.” However, extensive efforts to contact Carolyn at that time were fruitless. Nine years later, those fruitless efforts came up in a telephone conversation with Felicia in North Carolina. On probably that same day in Arizona, Mike Benjamin randomly selected Felicia’s name from a Principia alumni directory, not knowing that she was saved, and sent her unsolicited Christian Way literature. Felicia called me when she received that literature three days later in hysterical joy, and I had the contact information I’d desired for nine years. I can imagine Mike praying as he stuck his finger into that directory. I don’t believe it’s a mere coincidence that he selected Felicia’s name. Instead, I believe a sovereign God was involved, answering Mike’s prayer.