Conversion Stories

Deathbed Conversions

Finding Faith at the Finish Line
Book Cover
Author(s): 
Karen Edmisten
Copyright: 
2013
Publisher: 
Our Sunday Visitor
Number of pages: 
132 pages
Grade / Age level: 
Resource Type: 
Review: 

I thoroughly enjoyed this collection of stories about famous (and at times infamous) people who converted to Catholicism after many years of wrestling with God. The author handles their often tough life stories with gentleness and understanding, and with special attention to God's grace working through friends and family members who stuck with these individuals in good times and in bad.

Many of the stories include very messy life situations - including extra-marital affairs and abortions - but, of course have a good ending. For that reason, (besides recommending that you preview it for your children!) I think it's best suited for older teens, and would make a great jumping off point for discussions about how to be "salt of the earth".

The list of converts include a king, a gangster, a Nobel Prize winning biologist, a famous mathematician and a number of notable entertainers, actors and writers.

Perspective: 
Catholic
Review Date: 
11-25-2013
Reviewed by: 

No Price Too High and A Dinner with Alex Jones

Copyright: 
2001
Publisher: 
St. Joseph Communications
Grade / Age level: 
Resource Type: 
Review: 

Alex Jones is a former Pentecostal preacher who converted to the Catholic faith, along with his family and his congregation, in 2001. This presentation is a talk he gave a few months before he was formally received into the Church, in which he first publicly told the story of his conversion. It was his study of the Early Church Fathers, in particular, that brought him into the Church. It is followed by a dinner table conversation, including questions from guests - both Catholic and Protestant. Hosted by Steve Ray.

Alex is a powerful and moving (and often funny!) speaker and it's exciting and inspiring to see this larger-than-life character on fire for the Faith. The flip side is that converting to the Faith cost him a great deal - especially among his friends and colleagues. This is a powerful witness, particularly for us cradle Catholics who might have a tendency to take the Faith for granted at times.

My older children (ages 12 and 14) and I really enjoyed his talk. Conversion stories are so exciting and hopeful - a great place to see the hand of God at work in our world today.

Perspective: 
Catholic
Additional notes: 

DVD 2 hours, 20 minutes

Review Date: 
5-15-2007
Reviewed by: 

Not God's Type

An Atheist Academic Lays Down Her Arms
Author(s): 
Holly Ordway
Copyright: 
2014
Publisher: 
Ignatius Press
Binding: 
Sewn Hardcover
Number of pages: 
215 pages
Subject(s): 
Grade / Age level: 
Review: 

This is the fascinating and very engaging story of an atheist who converted to Catholicism thanks to her affinity for literature and competitive saber sword-fighting. No really! I love the way she skillfully and accessibly takes us through the series of ideas and arguments she needed to work through in the process of conversion. I am also completely intrigued by the fact that she is a Catholic who now holds the chair of apologetics at Houston Baptist University.

An excellent and fairly quick read for high schoolers and adults that will be especially enjoyed by book-lovers.

Perspective: 
Catholic
Review Date: 
9-19-2016
Reviewed by: 

Rome Sweet Home

Book cover: 'Rome Sweet Home'
Author(s): 
Scott Hahn
Kimberly Hahn
ISBN: 
2 147 483 647
Copyright: 
1993
Publisher: 
Ignatius Press
Binding: 
Paperback
Number of pages: 
198 pages
Subject(s): 
Grade / Age level: 
Review: 

From a young age, Kimberly wanted to be a minister. When her study of the Bible convinced her that the ordination of women as pastors was unbiblical, she deicded that she would do the next best thing and be a pastor's wife. Enter Scott, a fellow student at Grove City College whose plans for the future focussed on preaching and teaching. This book tells the story of their journey from anti-Catholic to Rome Sweet Home. Along the way, we see God working in their lives in events large and small.

Interestingly, the Hahns abandoned contraception long before either began to seriously consider the claims of the Catholic Church. Kimberly's personal study of the historical Christian teaching on this topic is what convinced them to give it up, and their reaction at the time was more along the lines of "even a broken clock is right twice a day." Yet, it is obvious in retrospect that this discovery played a role in opening their hearts to the Truth that subsists in the Catholic Church.

The story is told by Scott and Kimberly in alternation, a device that is very effective in conveying the discoveries, trials, conflicts, and joys of their journeys as they follow their different paths.

As Scott observes in the introduction, his conversion moves from a detective story in which he unearths evidence pointing to the truth, to a horror story when he realizes that the Truth points to the Catholic Church, to a romance as he falls in love with the Church that Jesus Himself founded. Along the way, he has to learn to restrain himself and not push his wife before she is ready.

Meanwhile, Kimberly's story is largely one of great pain and suffering as she sees the death of all her hopes and plans of ministering together. She truly experiences a "dark night of the soul" -- feeling abandoned and alone. A beautiful moment is when her father, a Presbyterian minister, urges her to pray to yield her will to God. As she observes, he took a great risk in thus advising her, for he knew it might lead her into the Catholic Church -- as in fact it did.

This is a great story of a wonderful Christian couple who had it all planned out how they were going to serve Jesus, and then thought they would lose it all for His sake, only to get back something even more precious. Their passion for the Truth is inspiring.

See sample pages at the Book preview though Google books, by permission of Ignatius Press.

The Spanish version of this book is entitled El Regreso a Casa El Regreso a Roma; preview here.

Perspective: 
Catholic
Review Date: 
7-28-2008
Reviewed by: 

Something Other Than God

How I Passionately Sought Happiness and Accidentally Found It
Author(s): 
Jennifer Fulwiler
Copyright: 
2014
Publisher: 
Ignatius Press
Number of pages: 
256 pages
Subject(s): 
Grade / Age level: 
Resource Type: 
Review: 

Jennifer Fulwiler was raised a pro-abortion atheist and was committed to that belief system for many years, but over time a number of little things made her wonder. Eventually she came to see that this was God working in her life. In this delightful and engrossing book, she shares this great illustration of how God works in mysterious, unexpected and sometimes hilarious ways!

Here's a brief sample from a conversation she had with the man she would later marry:

"I don't see how anyone could look at that and not believe in God", Joe said, his voice lowered as if out of reverence for this masterpiece of nature.

Maybe it was the influence of the gin and tonic, but I figured that now, when we were both happy and calm, wa sas good a time as any to have this discussion. "You know that I don't believe in God, right?" I said.

Joe kept his eyes on the cloud. "Yeah, I think you said something about that once."

I waited for him to elaborate on that statement; I'd expected more of a reaction. He remained silent, so I asked, "Does that bother you?"

"Nah", he said casually. "You're reasonable, so you'll get over the atheism thing eventually."

We especially enjoyed the humorous stories about her antics as a stubborn kid, such as moving all the Bibles in the library to the "Fiction" section. Yes, God really doesn't give up on anyone! ;)

Perspective: 
Catholic
Review Date: 
9-16-2016
Reviewed by: 

Why Be Catholic?

Author(s): 
Dr. Ray Guarendi
Copyright: 
2006
Publisher: 
Nineveh's Crossing
Grade / Age level: 
Resource Type: 
Review: 

Many people are familiar with Dr. Ray Guarendi - psychologist, father of 10 and expert on family discipline. You may not know that he has a number of apologetics materials available as well.

Dr. Ray, a revert to the Catholic Church after 10 years in Protestantism, explains, in an engaging and often humorous way, the big things that brought him back. There is a particular emphasis on the need for a religious "system" to be logically and morally consistent. He touches on the Early Church, the Eucharist, Contraception, the problem with personal interpretations of Scripture and much more.

This talk was filmed at a men's conference and might be particularly nice for busy homeschool dads who often don't have time to keep up with the spiritual reading and study that goes on at home during the day. Our entire family enjoyed this talk and I'm sure we'll return to it many times.

Watch a sample portion here
Also, there's a study guide available online.

The DVD also includes his classic talk (half-hour in length) "Catholic Dads Aren't Wimps" - an insightful look at the importance of discipline within the family and some very practical tips for making this happen. This is an abbreviated version of his 95 minute "comedy stand-up routine on parenting" titled "You're a Better Parent Than You think" (also produced by Nineveh's Crossing).

Additional notes: 

90 minute DVD plus 2 audio CDs

Two audio CDs are included in this package - one for each of the talks (great for taking in the car).

Review Date: 
5-1-2007
Reviewed by: 

You Can Share the Faith

Author(s): 
Karen Edmisten
Copyright: 
2016
Publisher: 
Our Sunday Visitor
Grade / Age level: 
Resource Type: 
Review: 

I highly recommend this terrific little book for everyone who wishes to share their faith with others – especially with their family and friends. Karen is an atheist-turned-Catholic (and Catholic homeschool mom, and contributor to this website) who shares in this book many common aspects of the conversion journey through her own experiences and those of a number of her friends.

These stories are organized around a very practical set of “do’s” and “don’ts” that will help readers be better prepared to witness to and support those who are being drawn to the faith. Karen’s tone is gentle and friendly (and prayerful!), but not at all timid about tackling many important issues, concepts, teachings, relationships and potential misunderstandings. The end result is a very great set of connections to help believers be more loving, patient, understanding and supportive of others.

Perspective: 
Catholic
Reviewed by: 

Surprised by Truth

11 Converts Give the Biblical and Historical Reasons for Becoming Catholic
Book cover: 'Surprised by Truth: 11 Converts Give the Biblical and Historical Reasons for Becoming Catholic'
Author(s): 
Patrick Madrid (ed.)
Copyright: 
1994
Publisher: 
Basilica Press
Series: 
Surprised by Truth
Binding: 
Softcover
Number of pages: 
269 pages
Grade / Age level: 
Review: 

These are relatively short (usually about 20 or 30 pages each) autobiographical essays from Catholic converts. The stories cover a numer of converts who are becoming well-known for their vibrant Catholic ministries of various sorts, and so you may have heard the names Marcus Grodi, James Akin, Steve Wood, Tim Staples and Dave Armstrong before). Because of the variety of authors, the reading levels and vocabulary used vary greatly - some are simple and succinct and others more complex - but all are compelling in their own way; all help to shed more light on what it means to be a Catholic and why the Catholic Church is so different from other beliefs. Although primarily intended for adults, the book would make excellent apologetics reading for high schoolers because it provides a wealth of information and "holy ammunition" in intellectual battles with non-Catholics.

Perspective: 
Catholic
Review Date: 
4-26-01
Reviewed by: 

Surprised by Truth 2

15 Men and Women Give the Biblical and Historical Reasons for Becoming Catholic
Book cover: 'Surprised by Truth 2: 15 Men and Women Give the Biblical and Historical Reasons for Becoming Catholic'
Author(s): 
Patrick Madrid (ed.)
Copyright: 
2000
Publisher: 
Sophia Institute Press
Series: 
Surprised by Truth
Binding: 
Softcover
Number of pages: 
298 pages
Grade / Age level: 
Review: 

The sequel to Surprised by Truth provides even more stories of how the grace of God, the witness of others and important conversations about the truth, brought these men and women back to the fullness of the Cahtolic faith.

Perspective: 
Catholic
Review Date: 
4-26-01
Reviewed by: 

Surprised by Truth 3

10 More Converts Explain the Biblical and Historical Reasons for Becoming Catholic
Book cover: 'Surprised by Truth 3'
Author(s): 
Patrick Madrid (ed.)
ISBN: 
1 928 832 598
Copyright: 
2002
Publisher: 
Sophia Institute Press
Series: 
Surprised by Truth
Binding: 
Softcover
Number of pages: 
320 pages
Subject(s): 
Grade / Age level: 
Review: 

This third collection in the series features the stories of ten more converts. As with the previous collections, these make great reading for those inquiring into the Catholic faith. Each story also invites those of us already blessed to be Catholic to a deeper understanding of our own Faith in areas in which many struggle, such as: materialism and doubts about the supernatural, answering the challenge to seek the truth, marriage and sexuality, and separated groups ranging from anti-Catholic Protestants to "More Catholic than the Pope." It never fails to amaze me how many different routes there are to the one Truth.

Well-known Catholic writers Carl Olson, Fr. Dwight Longenecker, and Pete Vere are among the converts and reverts in this volume.

This particular set of stories includes one, entitled "Sex, Lies, and the Catholic Church," that parents may want to preview before giving it to their children to read. As the title indicates, issues of sexuality are raised, specifically contraception, cohabitation, premarital sex, sterilization, and adultery. Another story ("More Catholic Than the Pope" no More) mentions the writer's previous involvement in satanism. I consider the book appropriate for mature teens and adults.

Review Date: 
7-25-2008
Reviewed by: