By Mark Ellis —
She turned her back on an upper middle class Jewish upbringing and lived in a Hindu ashram as a monastic nun for 20 years. After a desperate and exhaustive pilgrimage, she finally found the truth in Jesus Christ.
“I was a lost and lonely pilgrim for a very long time,” says Faith Collier, author of Home at Last (Deeper Revelation Books).
At only six-years-old she began to resent her birth into a Jewish family. “My parents told me it was a blessing to be from the Jewish blood line, that I was one of God’s chosen people, but I just wasn’t satisfied,” she writes in her book. “In fact, for some odd reason, I thought I wanted to be a Christian.”
When she asked her orthodox Jewish grandmother about Jesus, the woman screamed at her, “Don’t you ever mention that name in this house, ever again!”
One day at school, Faith asked a Christian friend why the Christians seemed to like crosses so much. “Jesus was nailed to the cross,” her friend stated. Her friend then declared nonchalantly that the Jews killed Jesus, probably not realizing that Faith’s Jewish roots would be jolted by the revelation.
In high school, Faith stopped believing in God altogether and decided she was an atheist. Later, she followed her parents’ chosen pathway to become an English teacher, studying at a college in upstate New York.
“I spent as much time as I could smoking cigarettes and marijuana, drinking alcohol, having casual sex, performing folk-singing gigs at a popular club, and eating at restaurants with my roommate, perfecting the poor-college-student art of ‘dine and dash.’”
She met a young man named Robert in school and they married after graduation. They moved to San Francisco, where Robert entered law school and Faith became a high school English teacher.
The summer of love
The timing of their move to the Bay Area coincided with the full-flowering of the hippie movement. “Robert and I lived double lives for quite some time…on the weekends we got stoned out of our minds and danced with wild abandon at love-ins.”
They took Timothy Leary’s advice literally to ‘tune in, turn on, and drop out.’ Robert quit law school with only one semester to go and Faith quit her teaching job. “Off we went into the world of psychedelics, ostensibly seeking truth and God,” she notes.
Faith thought she saw God on one LSD trip at the beach in Half Moon Bay, south of San Francisco. “All of a sudden the clouds turned into the most exquisite sight I had ever seen… the majesty of it all took my breath away.”
Shortly after that, she left her husband and bought a one-way ticket to Maui. When she arrived, she met some “very zealous Christians” at a popular waterfall, but Faith was bewildered as she tried to follow their teaching about sin, the need for repentance, forgiveness and salvation. They seemed to care little for her as a person. “I left their company with the clear intention of staying as far away from Christians as possible in the future.”
She became the ultimate free spirit, living by herself in a cave and at several beaches. Hitchhiking one evening, she was picked up by three intoxicated Hawaiians who had just come from a luau. They drove their station wagon through the sugar cane fields until they came to a stop near the ocean, where they proceeded to rape her.
During the attack, she felt God protected her from the full-force of the trauma. “I literally felt that Jesus lifted me up above my body, gently held me, and allowed me to be a witness to the violence that was taking place, without actually being a victim to it,” she notes. “This was especially miraculous, because I didn’t even believe in Jesus at the time.”
She survived the attack, but was not ready to surrender her life to Christ. She returned to her “crazy self-guided life” as if nothing had changed. Unfortunately, she contracted a venereal disease from the rapists.
Hoping to purge the disease from her body, Faith trekked out to a remote valley where she shed her clothing, ate only fruit, and prayed diligently for healing. Tourists spotted her and reported her to police, who arrested her for indecent exposure.
A girl from a Hindu ashram Faith had visited previously showed up unexpectedly at the police station and bailed her out of jail, which Faith considered a “mystical” sign from above.
Even though she thought the Hare Krishnas were a bit strange, she decided to try monastic life. Initially, she liked the vegetarian food, chanting and dancing, but was put off by their idol worship.
“The Hindu books spoke of love; the Hindu songs sang of love. All the externals were perfect, but I did not feel any real love in their temple…I felt no real love coming out of anyone, either towards me or towards each other.”
Despite her reservations, Faith decided to stay for a few months and try it. She entered into the highly-controlled and regulated ashram environment, with rules against eating meat, fish, or eggs, forbidding sex outside marriage, intoxication or stimulants, and no gambling or idle entertainment (including TV).
Devotees were awakened before 4 a.m., allowed a three-minute cold shower, then started several hours of chanting, dancing, and Vedic study. At night, Faith slept Spartan-like on a woven mat on the floor.
She followed the teachings of Swami Prabhupada, a man known as the “guru of the entire universe,” responsible for launching 108 Hindu ashrams, with some 15,000 followers world-wide. “Swami Prabhupada was, according to my understanding at the time, the savior who would deliver me into the eternal kingdom of God.”
Faith’s parents tracked her down and showed up at the ashram one day, inviting her to go out to a shopping
mall with them. As they cruised in her parents’ Oldsmobile, Faith could tell something wasn’t right. Her mother spilled the beans – their plan to take Faith to a cult deprogrammer. At the next stoplight, Faith jumped out of the car and ran all the way back to the ashram.
In her book, Faith chronicles her arranged marriage to an artist in the ashram, but the relationship was never fulfilling for either spouse. After 20 years of sacrificial living, she burned out on their unusual practices and beliefs.
“I was never able to accept that Krishna, a beautiful blue cowherd boy who plays the flute, is God,” she recounts. The stories she read about him seemed like “fantastic fables and outrageous fairy tales.”
Faith entered a dark night of the soul, exited the ashram with her husband, and then separated from him. “I wept and wept and wept for months and months on end,” she recalls. Her despondency left her with suicidal impulses, but she never carried them out.
She left Hawaii for California, and bounced around several churches, attempting to blend a New Age perspective with what she observed in the church.
One day she visited a Calvary Chapel because the pastor was teaching a series about sexual purity. Even though she considered the church outside her spiritual comfort zone, she wanted to hear his perspective on a topic that had caused much trouble in her own life.
Wow, this is a real church, she thought as she took in the teaching. Jesus’ teachings aren’t just stored away in a holy book; they’re alive.
“I knew I was sitting in the Father’s house,” she reflected. “I recognized the voice of the Master coming through the pastor’s teachings and penetrating deep into my heart and soul. It was clearly the Good Shepherd calling me, by name, into the fold:
Welcome home, Faith. You have sought me with all your heart and you have found Me.
The worship music impacted Faith even more than the teaching, transporting her upward before the throne of
That night, as Faith poured over the Book of John, she was born again. “I didn’t realize the Bible was filled with one-liners that could knock your socks off and turn your whole world upside down and inside out in the fewest possible words. If I had known Jesus’ style was so punchy and laser-like, I would have started walking with Him a long time ago.”
That was the night the Lord chose to answer so many years of fervent prayer. “The joy and peace I was blessed with were off the charts. A huge sense of relief welled up in my entire being. I no longer had to navigate my own desperate pursuit of truth or listen to guidance that could no longer be substantiated.”
“I relaxed into a sweet sense of homecoming.”
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