Being Radical

Vern Fein has been a teacher, a pastor, an advocate for justice, a believer, and an active community member for many years. He shares here how his new book (available Sept 15 at NCF) emerged from his experiences of coming to faith from the radical counterculture of the Sixties. May his story inspire and intrigue you.  -Renée

    I was a counterculture radical, fiercely atheistic. Then I swiftly came to be a radical believer in Jesus. My former comrades often asked how I could make that change. One conversation, that I distinctly remember, surprised me. 

    I had coffee with a friend who asked me the same question (that eventually) they all did: Who converted you? It was assumed that I could not have made this choice without a Christian or some Christians presenting the Gospel to me and persuading me to make this radical switch. I responded in a way that neither one of us expected; he was as unhappy with my answer as I was surprised. 

    No Christian had approached me about becoming a believer for months before I made that choice- except for Marty Shupack, who was told roundly that if he did not stop talking to me about Jesus, I would end our friendship.

    Between then and the time of my conversion, no Christians tried to convince me. Although, after word got out that I was involved and interested in the faith, several “hippie” Christians (like my wife Ilyse) visited and encouraged me in positive and reinforcing ways.

    But I told Mitch, for that was his name, that in all honesty my acceptance of Jesus was because God approached me through his Holy Spirit. I tried to tell him about what happened in that dramatic way. But he was miffed and would not listen. Our conversation ended in incredulity on his part.

    Many years later, I remembered how significant and surprising was God’s call in my life. I began to formulate the idea of interviewing others who had made the radical change from the counterculture to Jesus. There were many of them—the Jesus Movement of the early 70’s was huge. I selected some who I knew—quite a few from New Covenant—to interview and give them a chance to express what happened to them and where they are in their faith over forty years later.

I think you will find the resulting book- RADICAL FAITH: From The Sixties Counterculture To Jesus- a short, but intriguing read. I let people speak for themselves, weaving my own commentary throughout about what I think it meant. They honestly and openly explore their journey from their early faith through their counterculture years to their assessment of the present state of their faith and the church in general.

In that way, I am hopeful that anyone who reads it will have their faith strengthened by these accounts steeped in the reality of long and faithful lives. If nothing else, I do believe you will enjoy the stories.

Vern (
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