At 11, he'd been baptized in a swimming pool at church camp. Early in high school in Rock Hill, he'd flirted with following his grandfather -- a fiery Pentecostal preacher -- into the ministry.
But by the time Mike Ray left for classes at West Point in 1970, he had become, like his Army-veteran father, a proud atheist.
In his freshman English class, the bookish young cadet ruffled many of his fellow plebes with a speech rejecting any higher power. Its title: "God Isn't."
That became Ray's credo for the next 35 years. The only time this former military man-turned-software consultant gave God a second thought was when believers tried to evangelize him.
"Then I'd shoot them down," he says.
But this Easter Sunday, when the world's 2 billion Christians rejoice again at the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Ray will be back in a church pew. On the most important day of the Christian calendar, he'll be starting his new life as a believer.
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