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Young man tells story of conversion, overcoming sin with God’s help

Zach Davis spoke at latest CEO event

By Theresa Alt
Special to The Witness

CEDAR RAPIDS — Introduced as “a 23-year-old with the wisdom of a 100-year-old sage,” Zach Davis shared the story of his faith journey with more than 150 people at Immaculate Conception Parish in Cedar Rapids on Thursday evening, April 14. The lessons he learned as he struggled to overcome sin and give his life completely to God are relevant for people of all ages.

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Unresolved sin festers in the heart. A childhood experience of seeing a girl naked left Davis with a burning curiosity to see more, as well as deep-seated shame and fear that others would find out his secret. Raised in a Protestant family, the healing graces of the Sacrament of Reconciliation were not available to him. This early childhood experience contributed to a later addiction to pornography.

The excitement of sin is powerful. Attempting to overcome his addiction, Davis devoted himself to extreme acts of piety. Inevitably, though, he would be drawn back into a self-centered life of pornography, sex, overeating, and video games. No matter how many times he tried, his self-control wasn’t enough to conquer the sin that enslaved him.

“The truth found me. The truth is a person, and his name is Jesus Christ,” said Davis.

While listening to a discussion of faith between his father and his older brother, who had discerned a call to the priesthood, Davis came to realize that some of the things he had grown up believing just didn’t make sense. For example, the principle of “Sola Scriptura,” the idea that the Bible is the only source of authority and truth, is self-contradictory, he said, because “Sola Scriptura” is not found in the Bible. Participating in the RCIA program, Davis came to understand more about truth. But it was still just head knowledge. It didn’t reach his heart until he started to pray the rosary.

While praying the rosary, Zach started to understand why his girlfriend could not believe that God loved her. He recognized that when he slept with her before marriage, he was communicating to her that he only cared about what she could do for him, not about who she was as a person. In an act that he thought was demonstrating his love for her, he was actually telling her that she was not worth loving. Davis saw clearly how his sin was hurting those he loved most.

There is power in the sacraments. After first receiving the sacrament of reconciliation, Zach began to notice a change in himself. Participating in Mass became a joy, while before it seemed to be a bore or a chore. His attitude toward others was more friendly and less confrontational.

At age seven, Davis had prayed to receive Jesus into his heart. He didn’t truly receive Jesus, though, until two years ago, when he was confirmed in the church and first received the Eucharist.

Do you trust God enough to take care of your life? After Davis joined the Church, life didn’t automatically get easier. He experienced loneliness, frustration, and despair, and he could no longer turn to the distractions he had previously used to escape. He wanted to follow God’s plan for his life, but only if it aligned with his own plan. Through his developing devotion to Mary, Davis realized how much of his life he was holding onto, unwilling to surrender it to Jesus for fear of where Jesus might lead him.

When Davis was struggling with the pull of sin during his high school and college years, his lack of self control made him feel like he was less of a man. He notes, “It was the Blessed Virgin who taught me how to be a man, by surrendering my will to God’s.”

Davis’ talk was a Catholic Evangelization Outreach event. Catholic Evangelization Outreach (CEO) is “a Christ-centered, Spirit-led, lay-driven, grass roots evangelization ministry.” Monthly CEO events, held around the Cedar Rapids area, provide opportunities for attendees to learn from and be inspired by the stories of people striving to live out their faith. For more information or to view the video of Davis’ talk, visit Each CEO event also includes refreshments and time for fellowship. Attendees enjoyed a delicious meal provided by Panera Bread while discussing how Davis’ story had impacted them.

Davis concluded his talk by encouraging everyone to “keep loving and praying for those who have fallen away from the faith … Keep praying. Don’t give up, because hearts can change before you know it.”


Contributed photo. Zach Davis spoke at the Catholic Evangelization Outreach (CEO) event at Immaculate Conception Parish in Cedar Rapids April 14. His talk can be seen in full at the CEO website at