The Day Fear Lost A Major Battle (a personal story)  

August 6, 2013

After a few years of laboring in the professional ministry world,  I was convinced that something quite profound was off kilter.  I wasn’t sure what, or why.  I simply knew that the church I read about in the scriptures was something that had been foreign to my experience up to that point.  After taking a three month trip overseas (Middle East, China, Tibet, Nepal & India) in 2006 to experience the church outside of a Western context, I started to understand that the body of Christ described in the scriptures was completely different than the organization that many were calling church.  

Over the course of the next couple of years, I sensed the Lord showing me many things about the nature of His heart, and what He desired for His bride.  At the time, many of my associates and friends were institutional pastors and folks who were involved in professional religious work.  As I openly shared my heart with them, I heard two very divergent messages coming from this group.  

The majority of my pastoral friends warned me about the dangers of falling into the errors of the crowd who, in their opinion, were angry with the church.  I remember sitting in the office of a pastoral friend of mine as he talked about a book George Barna wrote with Frank Viola called Pagan Christianity.  

My friend went on to say that George Barna went too far with this book, and was throwing out the proverbial baby with the bathwater.  He could no longer be trusted.  According to my pastoral friend, this book was dangerous and was going to cause people to make a mess of their lives.  When I heard him say this, I felt a rush of fear flood over my body.  I told myself that I didn’t want to become one of those ‘angry’ people who attacked the church.  I was going to avoid that book for sure.  

Nevertheless, the more I shared my heart about what I was realizing regarding the church, others would ask me if I had ever heard of a book called Pagan Christianity.  I would tell them that I had heard of the book, but I hadn’t read it.  Then, I would quickly change the subject.  I kept hearing about this book, and it was starting to frighten & irritate me.  

One particular morning, I traveled to south Florida to spend some time with a friend and mentor of mine.  He was from the professional religious world, and I respected him.  I always found him to be open minded, so I felt free to share with him what the Lord was stirring in my heart about the church.  At the end of our conversation, he recommended a book to me.  

Pagan Christianity.

I politely listened to him as told me that he read this book, and it seemed that what I was sharing was similar to some of the things talked about in the book.  Although I greatly respected this person, the fear of this book had deeply lodged within me.  I desperately did not want to become like one of those people.  I had absolutely no intention of reading it, no matter who recommended it.  The more I heard people compare my thoughts with this ‘dangerous’ book, the more I felt that maybe I truly was going too far off the deep end.  It was discouraging.  

An Afternoon At The Park

At the height of my struggle, I decided to take a day to spend time with the Lord in solitude.  I needed to sort all of this out.  As I pulled into the park, I heard the Lord loudly and clearly speak to my heart.  This is what I heard:

LORD: Don’t go to the park to spend time with me just yet.  Go to the Barnes & Noble bookstore across the street.  I have a book for you there.  

ME:  What?  This is crazy.  

LORD: (silence)

I completely ignored what I heard.  I pulled into the park and got out of the car.  I brought my bible and journal with me to have some good ‘quality’ time with the Lord.  That’s when I strongly sensed the Lord speaking to my heart yet again. 

LORD: Why are you here trying to ‘spend time with me’ when I told you to go to Barnes & Noble across the street to buy a book?

ME:  What?  Seriously? What book?

LORD: (silence) 

Ok, it appeared that my plans for a nice quiet afternoon with the Lord was getting interrupted.  I was not happy.  I got back in my car and went to the Barnes & Noble across the street.  I walked in the store, went up to the second floor where the Christian section was, and this was the first book that I saw…

Pagan Christianity.

Someone had pulled this book out of its place on the shelf, and the cover was facing forward.  The red cover with the word ‘PAGAN‘ caught my eye.  As soon as I saw this book, I knew this was the book I was supposed to read.  In the same moment, however, I felt fear grip my entire body.  If I read this book, I might go off the deep end.  What will my friends think who told me not to read this book?  

I stood there looking at this book for what seemed like an hour.  I argued with the Lord.  I looked for a way out, but I just couldn’t walk away.  I ignored the fear that gripped me, and I purchased the book.  I drove back across the street to the park.  I opened the book and started to read.  

The fear broke, and the tears started to flow.  

I had been lied to.  Fear is a liar.  I couldn’t believe what I was reading.  It was everything that the Lord had been showing me.  I wasn’t crazy after all.  All the people who told me not to read this book were speaking from ignorance.  They had not read the book, and they were speaking from fear.  

Fear lost a major hold on my life that day.  Reading that book was not the end of my journey out of the religious system, but a major step forward in this journey.  This experience taught me that I never need to be afraid.  The truth (Christ) lives in me, and He is able to guide me into His reality.  He will not fail.  Truth is self-evident, but it is fear that makes things muddled and complicated.

Perfect love drives out all fear.  


Jamal Jivanjee              

Jamal Jivanjee

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32 responses to The Day Fear Lost A Major Battle (a personal story)  

  1. Thanks for the shout out on PC. I’m always amazed at the different ways that God has chosen to use that little volume, even today.


    Psalm 115:1

  2. A big AMEN brother! Hearing from Him is key regardless of what any other voice has to say. You’ve got ears to hear Jamal.

  3. Jamal, our experience with this book ‘Pagan Christianity’ has been very similar, our path’way’ to the book quite different. The point is clear for those who have eyes to ‘see’. Our Lord wants us, and He wants us out in the open, free of false constraints, and false ‘leaders’.

    A while back I was conversing with Jesus, His voice was quite clear.

    “come with me, live out in the open…unfiltered”

  4. Thanks for this post Jamal and I can certainly relate to much of what you are saying…I was recommending Frank Viola and other authors to a dear minister friend recently on his page. I merely stated that I “highly recommend these writings” and he came back with “I highly recommend you do NOT read these writings’ although it was not clear if he had in fact read them personally or not. In other conversations, the fear seems to be related to the potential loss of everything we hold dear such as income, status and spiritual things like the “calling of God on my life…”
    Also, I was interested when I saw your title because I also just wrote a draft blog on FEAR as well! It is on a completely different perspective and I will post when it is completed. One thing is for sure, fear of any kind is NOT from God!

  5. Brianna George August 6, 2013 at 3:14 pm

    Jamal this book changed everything for me. My friend Diane is finally reading it…can’t wait to chat with her about it.
    I’m in rest waiting for some loves of mine to be convinced by the Lord to read it also.

  6. Jamal,

    Though I knew that the religion of Christianity was built upon paganism mixed with some truth, I feared this book as well, but for a completely different reason. I thought that the book’s existence was to try to talk me into pagan Christianity! Instead of revealing historical facts about the religion and its ways. I could plainly see the reality of the religion businesses. I did some research into how the established denominated religions came into being. I “almost” bought that book, “Pagan Christianity,” many times, until I realized it was merely extensive research exposing the facts of the accepted and well-known pagan religion. I never read any books on the religion self before, so “Pagan Christianity” was my first. It was not written to talk me into religion, nor out of religion, but rather presented factual and extensive research of the ways, rituals and business practices. I imagine it took great Love to write this book, because fear could have prevented its existence. Hats off to George Barna & Frank Viola for writing this outstanding book.                       

  7. I needed to hear this story again. Thank you for sharing my friend. Love you deeply.

  8. You have talked about this book before but I wan not compelled to buy it and read it. I am being prompted by the Spirit to get it now. So I will do that. Thanks Jamal.

  9. kenneth dawson August 6, 2013 at 8:10 pm

    that’s a great testimony-very like mine-the lord will tell me to do something and what do I do? I argue with him-he always wins in the end and I then get the peace.i have read the book and as usual franks books are always the best–a verse of scripture that god always uses on me is exodus 14:14–the battle is the lords as for you-shut up

  10. jeremy Richardson August 6, 2013 at 8:13 pm

    Thank you for your words. When I read this, and got to the part where the Lord spoke to you, It brought such a huge smile to my face and a tear to my eye. I think it is absolutely wonderful the Lord speaks to us the way we speak to each other. That touched my heart. Thank you. -Jeremy

    • Jeremy,

      Hello brother! It truly is beautiful the way the Lord desires to relate to us. We are one family with Him:) Hope you are doing well. It was a delight getting to see you again.

  11. Another great insight. Your words are full of Life! Full of Jesus & His ability to finish the work that He started in each of us. I love how Jesus is so personal & yet His messages are also so corporately received.

  12. Very blessed by this brother. Thank you.

  13. What a great story! I found Frank’s blog through a book review of PC by a pastor I was following at the time online. He actually gave a pretty fair and balanced review, though in the end he disagreed. At the time, I was already in agreement with the premise of PC and read Frank’s follow-up book Reimagining Church first. I went back after that and swallowed the red pill (read PC). Both books are incredible and were instrumental in my walk with Christ and our family’s decision to leave the church system, and we’re still finding out how deep the rabbit hole goes!

  14. Great story bro! It’s always refreshing to hear the sounds of the chains-of-fear being broken.

    I guess since I was not of the professional pastoral variety, and more of a wild-man in the wilderness; I readily dove into PC like a juicy cheeseburger the moment I heard of it.

    But the effect was sure the same; lots of questions and frustrations answered, and large amounts of freedom gained.

  15. Great post, Jamal. Wonderful to hear of your personal experiences. I got hold of ‘Pagan’ a year-or-so ago. After I finished reading it I wrote a lengthy letter to the people in my church telling them how much we have strayed from God’s path. Immediately I started receiving some of the most venomous replies, one American missionary basically wanted to rip me and my friend (one who gave me that book) apart. Now my future in the Lord is pretty much uncertain but I have faith. Christ brought me out of idolatry in the past. I believe He will do so again.

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