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Christopher Pearson

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Jon Nelson: from atheist to 1st black Mo. Baptist VP

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (BP) -- The Missouri Baptist Convention's first African American officer, Jon Nelson, is not only a husband, father and church planter. He's also a testimony to the grace of God that can take an adversary of faith, such as Nelson once was, and bring him into the service of the one he had hated. Growing up in his parents' inner-city church in Kansas City, Nelson admits he often intellectually wrestled with Christians there. "When I attended my parents' church, I would privately engage in debates to destroy others' faith by asking venomous and loaded questions," Nelson remembers of his effort to agitate doubt that anyone had about God, the Christian faith or the Bible. Having become a self-defined -- but not publicly identified -- atheist, he wanted others to taste and see the same freedom he felt by rejecting belief in any God.