That’s what Mary Poplin did: She was professor of Education and Dean of the School of Educational Studies at Claremont Graduate University. She attended a Methodist church as a child, but began searching other spiritual traditions, including Buddhism, Transcendental Meditation, even telepathic attempts to bend spoons. She began teaching at Claremont, where a Christian friend encouraged her spiritual journey. Eventually in 1993, she became a Christian. In her own words, here is how it happened:
[I knew] a graduate student who?lived his life differently. First of all, he prayed for me for eight years. And he would say irritating things like, "If you ever want to do anything with your spiritual life, I'd like to help you." That was irritating because I thought I was doing plenty with my spiritual life. You know, I was bending spoons.
And the other, more distressing thing is, he would ask me questions like, "Do you believe in evil?" And I would realize that I couldn't answer the question consistently.
He worked at our university as a professor for a year on a sabbatical, and when he left I had a dream. I still felt empty and confused, and in the dream I was in a long line of people suspended in the air. The line seemed eternal on both ends. Jesus was standing greeting us in line.
When I looked at Jesus, I knew immediately what I was seeing. I couldn't even look at him, but for a second. I fell down to his feet and started weeping, and the only way I can describe the feeling I had in the dream is that I could sense every cell in my body, and I felt total shame in every cell. Then Jesus grabbed my shoulders, and I felt total peace, like I had never felt in my life. I woke up, and I was crying.
So I go to the phone, and I call this gentleman. He had never told me he was a Christian. But I called him and said, "I think I need to talk to you about my spiritual life." And he said, "Let's meet for dinner." At dinner, he said to me, "Why do you think you have to do something with your spiritual life now?" And out of my mouth came something I'd never thought about. I said to him, "I have some black thing in my chest. And I don't know what it is." He just nodded, and I told him the dream. I said, "What do I do?"
And he said, "Do you have a Bible?" He made sure I had one before we split up that night. He said to me, "You could read five Psalms a day and one book of Proverbs." And I thought, Well, okay, I'm going to do it. I mean, I'm really going to do it this time. And then he said, since Jesus was the one in your dream, you might even read the New Testament. And that's how casual he was about that.
I began to read them, and we began to meet in a town between our cities about once a week. That was November to January.
In January my mother wanted to go to North Carolina to where she had grown up. We went to this little Methodist church, not because she was religious; she just wanted to see her friends.
When we got there, I was really moved to just go up to the altar and give my life to the Lord. It wasn't even an altar call. It was a communion call. The guy said, you don't have to be a member of any church to take communion. You just have to believe that Jesus Christ lived, that he died for your sins, and you have to want him in your life. And when he said that, I was so powerfully moved that I actually thought, even if a tornado rips through this building, I'm going to get that communion.
I took the communion, and I didn't even listen to the guy. I knelt down and said, "Please come and get me. Please come and get me. Please come and get me." And when I took the communion and I said that, I felt free. I felt like tons of things had been lifted off of me. And I began to have an insatiable desire to read the Bible.
Romans 1 says that God is obvious to everyone, and the minds of people who deny him become darkened. Though they think themselves wise, they're actually foolish. That was me. But the Scriptures began to heal my mind so I could actually think again.