Eric Lennistaal

What is the likelihood of a young man from Sweden who described himself as “a proud argumentative atheist, a rather staunch communist and a radical vegan” with a reputation of convincing believers to abandon their faith, becoming a leader in the Salvation Army in Australia?

Only God can transform lives in this way! 

Now 34 years of age and happily married with 3 beautiful young children, Erik was once a conspicuous, confrontational atheist, skilled at debating (feared, even, by his fellow debaters!). Driven – a high achiever – Erik (at best) scorned Christians as weak, delusional and misguided, life’s cripples in need of a crutch. At worst, he considered them frenzied fanatics. He was proud and boastful of his accomplishments in turning believers into non-believers.

He enthusiastically met a challenge from a friend to read the Gospel of John, as an opportunity to disprove the existence of God using those very Scriptures as evidence. Upon reading it, Erik began to doubt his atheism. Against his better judgement and all that he had previously held dear, he attended (incognito) a Christian youth event. “For the very first time, I voluntarily set foot in a church – and the roof did not fall in! At the last possible moment, I left my seat and ran forward, and knelt, surrendered.”

Erik joined a church and stayed, and in 2013 joined the Salvation Army and its mission to save souls, grow saints and serve suffering humanity. Erik is now Director of Distance Teaching and Learning at the Salvation Army’s Booth College.

“I want to encourage everybody not to give up on those God has called you to reach out to,” Erik says. “Pray for them; stand in the gap for them. No matter how discouraged you might feel, at times, God is at work.”