Starting his senior year of high school, Perkins had also struggled with self-harm and suicidal thoughts.
But through it all, he continued to “go through the motions,” including attending church services, even if he was lukewarm about it.
When Perkins met and started dating Natali, the woman who is now his wife, her relationship with Christ inspired him, he said. “There was a desire in my heart. I wanted what she had.”
During the first three years of their relationship he started asking questions about where the Christian faith of his childhood really came from.
But the relationship between Natali and Perkins had its struggles, and the two broke up for six months. Around the same time, Perkins started a new job in a tattoo parlor, where he unexpectedly “saw Christ in those who typically are forgotten.”
Though the people he worked with were not conventional Christians, Perkins said he got to know them and their stories and saw examples of people striving, in their own ways, to be Christ-like.
Through that experience, Perkins began to feel like he was at a crossroads: He could either fall back into his former way of life or he could follow the “little bread crumbs” the Lord was leaving him to find a new path.
His journey to the Catholic faith was “gradual,” he said.
Perkins slowly started to realize the Lord’s love for him. He got back together with Natali and the two got married, at which time they started to get more involved in their church.
He credited a good church friend, Mitch, with inspiring them both “to seek after Jesus no matter what the cost, no matter what people thought.”
Perkins, who had become involved in his church’s worship and youth ministries, thought about studying to become a youth pastor.
(Story continues below)
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“That was the original goal,” he said. “We were teaching Bible studies and stuff and I just started asking the questions: ‘What do I believe? Why do I believe it? And can I defend it?’”
The desire to be a youth pastor — and to therefore have a deep knowledge of Christian teaching — led Perkins to start studying and reading.
Unexpectedly enough, it was a biography of the Christian music artist Rich Mullins that first opened Perkins’ heart to the Catholic Church.
Mullins, best known for his worship song “Awesome God,” had been interested in Catholicism and considered converting before his untimely death at the age of 41 in a car accident.
“I grew up listening to his music, and as I was reading the book, there were a ton of different Catholic quotes that were standing out to me and really speaking to my heart,” Perkins said.
In his Christian tradition, there were a lot of misconceptions about the Catholic Church, but what he was reading was challenging these, he said.