The daughter of US Vice President Mike Pence has opened up about her journey of faith in a new podcast series which aims to "explore issues of faith, culture and doubt."
In a recent episode of 'Doubting It', Charlotte Pence Bond talked openly about experiencing periods of spiritual dryness as she battled deep existential questions about life and faith. It was when the 27-year-old was at Oxford University - studying English and Philosophy abroad at St Catherine's College - that she began to truly explore her questions and, ultimately, where she encountered Jesus in a powerful way.
"I started reading atheists’ writings and literature. I was close with professors who were agnostic or atheist. I just started kind of trying it out,” she explained. “I didn’t fully turn away from my faith but I wanted to see if I really needed it. Looking back on that year, I looked back over this journal I kept and I noticed in the journal all of the times that things of significance happened and I felt the need to write them down.
Despite admitting to "living a little bit of a double life" in Oxford and "doing things I shouldn’t have been doing," Pence said that the Lord continued to graciously pursue her.
“A lot of times it had been when I would come across a Bible verse or something had happened that clearly involved God and clearly involved another encounter with religion in some way," she said. "What I really realised is that during that entire year, I was running away from God very actively. But the entire year, He was running after me.”
Bond explained how it was when she was about to travel back to the United States that the Holy Spirit came to her in a real and profound way. In that moment, she knew that God loved her unconditionally and vowed to follow him with her whole heart.
“I just felt this overwhelming presence around me,” she explained. “I really can’t describe it as anything other than that. I felt that God was accepting me back. It was almost this literal feeling of falling into somebody’s arms that has forgiven you, saying: ‘I still want you. I still want you back even though you ran away from me. I still want you.’
"That was really when I completely gave my life to Christ.”
After this moment of revelation, Pence Bond returned to the US determined to live fully for God. “I really felt like after that experience on the plane, I couldn’t deny it anymore. I couldn’t pretend like it wasn’t real," she said, noting that she had to leave some of her past behind. “I lost friends, moved on from relationships and kind of figured out who I was in Christ and who I wanted to be with Him at the center."
Pence Bond said that the time in Oxford also gave her the space to explore and question her doubts - something she believes is healthy for any believer.
"During this time abroad, that was really a time in my life when I was given the liberty and the freedom and the space to have doubts, to have questions, to wonder," she said.
"The biggest realisation I had was that Christianity was real and I couldn’t be halfway in...I couldn’t have one foot out the door all the time.”
You can listen to the podcast by heading here.