Surprised by God: Swept Into the Heart of the Church

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By Alex Proimos from Sydney, Australia [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

My Conversion Story

I am a convert. As a Protestant kid who went to Sunday School from the age of 3, 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 repeated 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.

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,

“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,

“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.

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 barely 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 Charismatic 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.

Copyright 2016 Melanie Jean Juneau

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About Author

Melanie Jean Juneau is a mother of nine children who blogs at joy of nine9. Her writing is humorous and heart-warming; thoughtful and thought-provoking. Part of her call and her witness is to write the truth about children, family, marriage and the sacredness of life. Melanie is the administrator of ACWB, the Editor in Chief at CatholicLane, CatholicStand, Catholic365 , CAPC & author of Echoes of the Divine.

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