Honestly loving my atheist friends

Angelene Wong shares her experience in witnessing to and maintaining relationships with her atheist friends.


Pepperdine University’s chapel sits quietly awaiting students to enter. At Biola, students engage in centuries-old practice of liturgical church traditions. | Olivia Blinn/THE CHIMES

Angelene Wong, Writer

My friends, most of whom are atheists, do not understand why I am attending a Christian university. They think it weird not rushing to a sorority or drinking on weekends. To them, college is all about the amount of crazy adventures that you cannot remember the following day. While my friends are influential, talented, and open-minded in many ways, we often disagree on our beliefs and priorities. These differences have proved a point of tension in past years. We danced around the topic of Christianity, barely ever touching it, unless someone decided to make a careful remark about my habit of praying before meals or my decision to abstain from sex until marriage.

I struggle with talking about my faith past a superficial level. While I want to witness to my friends, I also want to respect their beliefs. I am hyper-sensitive of the way I talk about God. I do not want to scare them away, either by being too overpowering or by not being passionate enough. However, this tension means I sometimes feel like I cannot be fully myself with them. I find it difficult to balance my frustration of fully expressing myself while still guarding what I say to protect Christianity’s reputation.

Additionally, I do not believe that I can present an authentic version of myself without allowing them to experience God moving within my church body or volunteer community.

A couple of years ago, I began inviting my friends to church and to my youth group. When doing so, I wanted them to come to know Christ above all. But, I also wanted to share a community that was close to my heart. My church is one of my favorite places — people that taught me how to love others and truly love God fill it. I have grown immensely in my church as a believer and as a person in general. I would not be the same person without my church body, and I desire to share this part of myself with my friends. Nevertheless, my friends always decline my invitations.

I have yet to experience a friend coming to know the Lord. As discouraging as it may be, I am extremely thankful for my friendships with each one of them. They have taught me many things about myself and the world around me, and I hope I have done the same for them. I value their opinions and perspectives, which also allows me to examine the depth of my personal beliefs. I trust that, over time, my faith will testify to how great and awesome our God truly is, and that they will one day ask me to tell them more about Him. Until that day comes, I will continue to pray that their hearts will open to God’s grace, and hope that through all of their sins and transgressions, they will be able to see God working in me.


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