Dan Fagundo was only 11 when he decided God did not exist.
For him, the decision to become an atheist wasn’t so much a denial of God as it was a matter of not finding evidence for His existence. Even as a youngster, Dan had been thinking deeply about God, but the questions he asked were left unanswered by his family and their Jehovah Witness beliefs.
“I started asking a lot of questions just really in-depth questions that my mom couldn’t answer.” Dan said.
Without answers and seeing poor examples of Christianity, he gave up on the idea of God.
“I decided there absolutely was no God, there was nothing to believe in, there was no heaven, no hell; there was no consequence for anything I did. And that led into where the rest of my life was going—in a very bad direction.”
Starting in elementary school, Dan made a point to pick on children who were Christians. A couple years later, Dan was in middle school and found his atheistic beliefs reinforced by science class lessons on evolution.
Looking back at those middle school and high school days, Dan recalled that with all the information and science he knew to support his view, there was a lingering emptiness he felt.
“I felt empty. I felt no hope,” he said. “The funny thing was the whole time, I wished I was a Christian. I wished I could believe.”
Filling his life with drugs and alcohol, Dan partied his way through high school and at 19 he moved into his own house with his girlfriend.
Working as a mechanic, Dan felt like he had his life under control, but his life was starting to control him.
“There were a lot of days that would go into work and still have a hangover and sit there and work all day with a crushing headache,” Dan said. “I had no idea why I was going to go home and do the same thing over that night. I really didn’t know where I was going in life.”
It was the spring of 2006 when Dan realized that drinking had taken control of him and he decided to give up alcohol for good. Shortly after that decision, a friend gave Dan a book called The Case For Easter. That book shook his atheism to the core.
“I read the book and it historically proved that Jesus lived,” Dan said. “It proved everything historically. It proved that he died. It proved that he rose again.”
With his own belief system falling apart, Dan started discovering Christ that summer.
When a friend invited him to attend a car show in July, he was surprised to find that it was held at a church—Resurrection Life Church.
His curiosity piqued, Dan agreed to come back to the college-age ministry later that week even though he still wasn’t sure of what he thought about Christianity.
“It was a blast,” he said of the college ministry. “I could just tell there was something more.”
After visiting the college ministry called Access, Dan decided he wanted more of what he’d seen so when his girlfriend said she didn’t want to have anything to do with it, he had her move out and he found other friends to go with him to Access.
“We were just like this is awesome,” Dan said. “After that I just decided I’ve got to be here every Thursday. I cannot miss this for anything.”
Soon, Dan was invited to a Sunday service and he decided to give his life to the Christ he didn’t believe in for so many years.
“It was just such an exciting morning,” Dan said of the day he accepted Christ. “I was all grins as I went down there to answer the altar call. It was the best day of my life.”
That was August of 2006 and much of Dan’s outlook on life has changed since his encounter with Christ.
“Ever since then my life has been turned around,” he said. “I’ve got hope in my life. I’ve got joy.”
Even his outlook toward other people has changed. Where once he felt hatred toward most people, Dan now enjoys helping others. Through Access, he has found ways to serve other people including hurricane victims in New Orleans.
“If I hadn’t been introduced to Access, I wouldn’t have gone on that [first] trip. If I hadn’t gone on that trip, I wouldn’t have known I’m supposed to be on the mission field. Since that trip, I’ve been to New Orleans three times now.”
Dan continues to be involved with Access and helping people. In 2008 he co-led another trip to the New Orleans area with Access. Dan is now an intern with Access and recently led a team of young adults to do ministry in New York City.