TYLER, TX (KLTV) - On a Sunday afternoon at Tyler's First Baptist Church, Lee Strobel found himself in a situation that he was not always accustomed to. Answering not asking questions. The award winning author was first and foremost a journalist. His career in law and journalism was on the fast track two decades ago working at the Chicago Tribune. Lee admits he was pretty happy with his career.
"I was very happy in journalism," says Strobel. "I was at the Chicago Tribune. I was successful. I had written my first book. I loved it. I loved having a front row seat to history. And so I was quite content in the world of big city journalism. I never thought that, "a" I would leave that and that "b" I would be doing what it is I am doing now in terms of talking to people about the evidence of Christianity."
That's because along with being a successful journalist, Lee was also a professed atheist. Those two world's would eventually collide. In the early 80's Lee decided to use his skills to investigate the story and more importantly the claims of Jesus.
"My journey was very investigative in nature," remembers Strobel. "As a skeptic, an atheist trained in journalism and law my approach was to investigate. Is there any scientific evidence that points toward God. Did Jesus claim to be the Son of God and did He return from the dead. Those were kind of the main areas I investigated. So it was a very intellectual kind of journey. So after two years I came to the conclusion that the evidence of science and history was so powerful in supporting Christianity that it would require more faith to maintain my atheism than become a Christian."
It was then, in 1981, Lee left atheism and became a Christian. It was when he learned that it was the prayers of a faithful wife that may have been more important that his investigation.
"I told my wife this and she said I wanted to give up on you a thousand times," says Lee "I met women at church and I told them I had no hope for my husband. He is this hard hearted, hard headed legal editor of the Chicago Tribune, he will never bend his knee to God. And one woman brought her aside and said no one is beyond hope. And gave her a verse. from the Old Testament, Ezekiel 36:26 that says "moreover I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you... I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh." Well what I didn't know was that all this time I was doing this intellectual journey my wife behind the scenes was praying that verse for me for two years. Praying that God would open my eyes to the truth of who He was. Praying that God would lead me to truth. So, I found out later there were lots of people who were praying. My mom was praying, there were lots of folks praying."
Today Lee uses his journey to help other Christians better understand their faith. Many Christians he says don't truly understand why they believe what they believe. Something he knows that all too well from his days as an atheist. His books that include best seller "The Case For Christ" use his factual journey to help Christians understand the basis of their faith. But in the end Lee says nothing is more powerful than prayer and the perfect model he found comes from Jesus himself.
"The tense of the Greek when it describes the crucifixion of Jesus, indicates that Jesus didn't say it just once, that he kept repeating over and over again... Father forgive them, Father forgive them, Father forgive them for they no not what they do," says Lee, "so we have a model in Jesus that cared so much in people that and so depraved that they were torturing to death the Son of God and yet continued to pray for them while He had a breath in Him."