An atheist who hated Christians discovers the truth of God’s Word.
Lynne Eby shares a lot of similarities with the apostle Paul.
Lynne spent the first 35 years of her life hating and persecuting Christians. Today, she is a passionate believer with a mission to reach others and share the good news she has learned.
The Holy Spirit used a knock on Lynne’s door at just the right moment to give her an opportunity to hear the gospel message.
A hard heart
Growing up, Lynne’s family was what she considers to be “new age.” Her mom’s famous words, according to Lynne, were “All roads lead to God.” Lynne went to churches, synagogues, mosques, and temples but was taught to believe that humans could solve all problems.
“At times, my mother delved into Christianity,” Lynne shares. “But it wasn’t real Christianity. It was superficial.”
These superficial forms of Christianity caused Lynne to harden her heart toward Christians. As the years went on, she saw it as her mission to disprove Christianity. If she noticed a person wearing a cross necklace or heard someone mention Jesus, she would immediately question them and their faith. “I had an active hatred for Christians,” she says.
Lynne married Jason in 1997, and they had two kids. Her husband was raised Lutheran but was opposed to Christianity because the church where he grew up never addressed his spiritual questions. Together they raised their children as atheists.
Lynne was shocked one morning when their eight-year-old son, Alex, approached her bedside and proclaimed, “I’m a Christian!”
Alex shared that a woman on the television told him he was a Christian and needed to go to Sunday school. Lynne kept telling him it was all a lie, but he was adamant.
For a year, Alex pleaded to go to Sunday school. Lynne finally agreed to find a Christian church near them. She opened up the yellow pages, looked up “Christian church,” and picked the first one on the page.
The family regularly attended this church for several months, pleased that it was making Alex happy. But one Sunday when Lynne’s mother was visiting, she pointed out that there was no cross at the front of the church and the pastor never spoke about Jesus Christ. “This isn’t a Christian church!” Lynne’s mom exclaimed.
As Lynne dove deeper into the church’s practices, she found it was actually closer to a cult than a Christian church. The family decided to stop attending.
The search for a Christian church was put on the back burner when the family moved to Las Vegas for Jason’s job. At the time, Lynne was practicing Zen Buddhism, but Alex was still certain he was a Christian.
Lynne trusted in the universe and would talk to it, so she proclaimed one day into the great void, “I’m done looking for churches. If Christianity is true, you have to send me somebody, but they have to speak Greek and Hebrew.”
The request was specific because Lynne wanted to go through the actual Scriptures with this person if he happened to appear; however, she had no real faith that anybody was actually listening to her.
The power of the Word
Soon after, newly graduated seminarian Matthew Vogt was making his first canvassing trip through a neighborhood near his new mission church, Water of Life.
He made a number of stops that day and came to one house where there was a family outside that “looked like hippies,” he shares. He and his wife decided to wrap up for the day and did not stop at the home.
That night, Vogt couldn’t sleep, thinking about how he had skipped over that house. He returned during his next outing and knocked on the door.
A little boy answered and stated, “I’m the Christian of the family,” then went to get his mom. A woman came to the door and was stunned to hear the words that came out of Vogt’s mouth. “I don’t know why I’m telling you this,” he said, “but I speak Greek and Hebrew.”
It was a direct answer to her plea to the universe.
“I had knocked on thousands of doors but never had an experience like this before,” Vogt says. “God had sent me there to share the gospel.”
After this visit, Lynne began Bible information class with Vogt and dove into the Scriptures. But it was not an easy road. Her heart had been hardened for many years.
“For the first year and a half, she went because she had to,” Vogt says. “She’d ask angry questions then storm off. Then she’d show back up and ask to try again.”
Lynne confirms that she was angry at that time. The questions she asked Vogt had stumped other Christians through the years, but they didn’t stump Vogt. His famous phrase was “Let’s see what the Word says.” His patience and knowledge of the Scriptures amazed her.
After about two and a half years, Lynne’s questions shifted from angry to inquisitive. She didn’t know it yet, but the Holy Spirit had worked faith in her heart.
Lynne prayed to God one night, “If the Bible is your book, then you have to make me know it. I can’t just choose to believe.”
The next day, Lynne saw Vogt, and he asked her if she believed in Jesus as her Savior.
In her head, Lynne screamed, “No!” but out of her mouth came, “Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior.” Overwhelmed, Lynne left quickly.
She came back a few minutes later to investigate why Vogt asked her that question. He responded, “I’ll tell you exactly why I asked that question. The nature of our studies is entirely different now and you’re asking deeper questions.”
Lynne realized then what had been in her heart for a long time. She was a believer. She was a child of God.
“God in his mercy saved me,” Lynne says. “To say I was an enemy of God was an understatement, but God met me in my own unique circumstances and my own personality. He cares so much.”
An active witness
Over the years, Lynne’s faith grew stronger through the Word, and eventually she was baptized and became a member of Water of Life.
At the same time, she also wrestled with hesitation and disbelief from her family. Her parents’ families are deeply distrustful of Lutherans, and some have ceased speaking to her. Lynne’s husband and children remain atheists today.
But none of this discourages Lynne. She simply turns to the Lord in prayer. “Prayer is so important,” she says. “I know prayer matters.” She notes that even her son admits that “something weird happens when my mom prays. She gets answers.”
Lynne has made it her mission to bring the gospel to as many unbelievers as possible. She has contacted almost every person she previously persecuted, letting each one know her story and what she’s learned about God. She’s also brought a number of people to church.
Vogt says Lynne is one of the best witnesses for Christ he has ever seen. “She is completely natural and not at all forced,” he says. “She talks very lovingly and gently. She can talk to anyone because she herself has been the biggest skeptic.”
In addition to sharing her faith with unbelievers, Lynne also prays for and uplifts called workers. She’s witnessed firsthand how important mission work is and wants to emphasize the importance of persistence. “Don’t be intimidated or take no for an answer,” she urges. “You won’t always encounter nice people but be strong. God rescues people like me.”
Vogt can recall many times when Lynne has encouraged him. “To this day, she still continues to reach out and send texts of encouragement.”
God’s Word is front and center in Lynne’s life, even as she deals with constant health battles, or a “thorn in [the] flesh” as Paul described his own ailments in 2 Corinthians 12:7. Like Paul, Lynne turns to God’s Word when these troubles arise and repeats the words that Vogt used to say to her: “Let’s see what the Word has to say about this.”
In 2012, she and her husband moved to New York. The move made it more difficult for her to attend church because of the distance to the nearest WELS congregation, Sure Foundation, Queens. Lynne also was undergoing chemotherapy for an illness from which she’s suffered for many years.
These obstacles could have dampened Lynne’s faith, but they only reinforced the importance of prayer and daily time in God’s Word for her. She also found comfort in home visits by Sure Foundation’s pastor, Timothy Bourman.
Recently Lynne and her husband moved to a home that is only a 20- minute subway ride from church. Lynne can’t wait to return to regular worship. Her fervor for fellowship in the Word cannot be understated.
“I truly believe it is a miracle that Matt Vogt even bothered coming to my house that day,” she reflects. “I thank God every day that I’m a believer. There was no reason for God to save me. But he said, ‘You are my daughter. You just don’t know it yet!’ ”
Tips on witnessing
Matthew Vogt shares tips for witnessing to those without a Christian background:
Building bridges, developing relationships, earning trust, listening, and making the most of windows of opportunity the Lord provides are inherent duties of witnesses of Christ. These duties are particularly important when witnessing to those with no Christian background. Here are more tips to remember:
- Don’t get frustrated or discouraged if your attempts to share the love of Jesus meet with little noticeable success, but also don’t force the issue.
- Be both patient and persistent in the development of that relationship.
- Let them know you genuinely care about them and for them. Demonstrate this in meaningful, tangible ways. Point to Christ as the source of your love.
- When given the opportunity to share more about your Savior, point to his Word, the Bible, as the source of what you know and believe.
- Keep in mind that this isn’t just a new religion; it’s an entirely different worldview. The perspective on life, thought habits, and faith actions that accompany our faith in Christ will take time for the Holy Spirit to develop. Be patient. Be understanding. Be encouraging.
- Take these people to the Lord in prayer often.
Author: Gabriella Blauert
Volume 110, Number 3
Issue: March 2023
- My Christian life: Engaging the church’s youth - 2023/04/30
- Confessions of faith: Lynne Eby - 2023/02/27
- A new part of the family - 2022/12/27