Surprised by God: Into the Heart of the Church


My Conversion Story

I am a convert. As a Protestant kid who went to Sunday School from 3-years-old to my teenage years, I grew up on the stories of Jesus, singing songs about His love and memorizing Bible verses. I was a prayerful kid;  I sensed God was close to me even as a small child.   One of my Sunday School teachers, who I realize now was a holy man,  always turned to me to interpret passages of scripture in class, then beamed at my responses afterwards.  Later, after I committed my life to God, my mum told me this teacher repeatedly told her, ” You know Mrs. Myers, Melanie is a child of God.”

I was raised in the cool, calm and conservative Presbyterian church where nobody talked about a personal relationship with Jesus, no one talked about accepting Christ’s forgiveness, allowing Jesus to save us or committing our lives to God.

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Intimacy with God.

Listening to an evangelical friend in high school stirred a desire in me for an intimacy with God. Like the idealistic teen I was, I dared to stand up in front of a Conference of Canadian ministers, missionaries. and elders and ask,

“After eleven years of faithful Sunday School attendance, why did no one tell me it was even possible to have a personal relationship with Jesus? Do I have to go to the Jesus People or the Pentecostals to learn how to be  to be filled with the Holy Spirit?”

Of course, everyone clapped as I sat done with my heart pounding. A lovely Presbyterian missionary, with her silver hair swept up in an elegant bun and her eyes twinkling with the love of God,  asked me,

“Have you accepted Jesus as your Saviour?”

I was baffled,

“I  am not sure; I don’t think so. I am not sure.”

She looked at me, really looked into my eyes,

“I am sure you already have because just now you spoke in the Spirit, with His power and clarity. Just to make sure, when you are in your room tonight,  accept Jesus as your Saviour by asking Him to forgive your sins and accepting the salvation He offers you. Then commit your life to Christ. Tomorrow we will pray together for the in-filling of His Holy Spirit.”

That night, I felt foolish like I was speaking to thin air or the wall, but I said the words, committing my life to Christ. The next morning and, in fact, for the next few years, I was flying in the midst of the “honeymoon stage” which swept me right into the arms of the Catholic Church.

When I attended University, the only place alive in the Spirit was a Catholic Charismatic Prayer Group.  I was confused how Catholics could be filled with the Holy Spirit but I assumed God simply tolerated their heretical faith and would soon show them the truth that they only needed faith in Jesus and the Bible. Period.

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This IS the Body of Christ

Yet God pulled a fast one on me. I decided to accompany fellow students to a University Mass and was so shocked by the power of the presence of God, I could bearly stand.  When I heard the priest say, “This IS the Body of Christ”, I wanted, no I  craved the Eucharist. Of course, my Catholic friends told me I could not receive Holy Communion but suggested I make an appointment with one of the young Jesuits the next day.

A couple of months later, I could not sleep for a few nights. By then I lived with a Catholic 1f1bad9f587f0af8ee9a1b74792e87e0Charismatic family. After I stumbled out of my bedroom desperate for relief, they prayed with me and announced God had been shining His light into my heart preparing a room for Mary. Would I invite Mary into my heart? Despite all my Protestant, theological objections, I surrendered to God’s inner promptings and said yes. Joy and peace flooded my soul instantaneously.

Well, when Mary lives in your heart and God places a hunger for the Eucharist in your heart, nobody wants you but the Catholic Church. Within 6 months, I  joined the Church much to my family’s despair. As my grandfather lamented, “My God, how did she get herself into that mess?”

There is no greater joy than watching God work in someone’s heart. Of course, the most important thing is to live in God and allow His Spirit to live in us. God can touch someone without us saying a word but we should know the basics about our faith and salvation to be effective servants in the marketplace. I was converted through direct intervention from God but also by a knowledgeable Jesuit priest who answered all my questions and doubts with wisdom and who prayed for me.

14 thoughts on “Surprised by God: Into the Heart of the Church

  1. As a child raised in a Conservative Baptist church (my parents worked in lay ministries with high school & college kids) who had Episcopal leanings because I loved liturgy and “high church,” to a teen involved in the Charismatic movement of the mid-1960’s, to an adult “crisis of faith” which led me to the (liberal) Presbyterian Church USA and left there after a ministerial change (actually several) me with no real spiritual food from the pulpit, I struggle with the history of the Catholic Church. How do you reconcile your personal relationship with Jesus with the excesses & corruptness that has historically plagued all churches (both Protestant & Catholic), but particularly the corruptness of the early Roman Catholic organization? I also have a problem putting my faith in a man (Pope) who rules the Church with archaic & ultra-conservative views. Granted Pope Francis seems to be sticking his neck out a bit politically, but over all, the Catholics seem to be behind the times concerning birth control, GLBT issues, etc. Thanks for your time.
    Wendy

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Wendy,

      You have some very good questions! As for the historical corruption (which, to an extent, we do still see today), consider how Jesus chooses us, weak sinners, to build his Church. He even chose Judas, knowing that he would betray Him. In fact, you could even say that the very existence of the Catholic Church after 2000 years and so many scandals must to attributed to God; there’s no way the Church could have lasted on it’s own through so many dark nights. Also, the light of faith was never completely extinguished in these times. The Church still taught it’s consistent doctrine of salvation despite certain members acting contrary.

      As for the Pope, Catholics see it as a direct succession from Peter, who Jesus gave the power to bind and loose. Jesus never said he came to leave us a book, although Sacred Scripture is certainly a huge part of how we come to know God. Rather, he built a Church and established us Christians as His body on earth. The Catholic Church is the only Christian denomination that can trace itself directly back to Jesus’s day. During the time of the reformation, certain groups formed more of a revolt that a true reformation, leaving the Church all together rather than making the needed reforms within the Church. As a result, we now have thousands of splintered denominations, each with it’s own set of teaching and personal opinions, despite Jesus’s clear wish that we would all be one (John 17).

      As for the Church views that seem archaic and, frankly ridiculous, to live by in this day and age… well they are indeed. However, truth is unchanging throughout the centuries. What was immoral 2000 years ago is immoral today, since God’s law does not change. The Church, by maintaining consistent teaching on important doctrine provides us with real truth, that which we do not find in this changing world. The Church strives to live by St. Paul’s words and not conform itself to this world, but truly point out that narrow road which leads to life.

      I’ll be praying for you as you continue your walk with the Lord!

      Emily

      Liked by 1 person

  2. so similar to my journey. I UNDERSTAND!

    For about 10 years after I converted, my mind still wrestled with issues such as the role of Mary…my mind was not fully converted. Of course, the history of the Church is riddled with sin because man has free will, often acting out of pride or the desire for power. Yet it still possesses the Truth. Even if it is only the power of the real Presence in the Eucharist and the relationship of Mary to God’s children I would run to become Catholic.

    Scott Hahn, a protestant minister set out to save a friend from converting. Instead of proving Catholic teachings were false, he himself converted. He has books, articles, videos which discuss every objection

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Love this! Love how you described how God pulled a “fast one” on you; I think he does that to all of us at some point if we listen 😀 Love, love, love!

    Liked by 1 person

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