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Pause for thought: If you had to sum-up what your faith means to you in a sentence, what would you say?
One of the principle ways through which the Church grew in the early centuries A.D. was through simple faith sharing. Testimony giving is a powerful way through which we can proclaim to others the Good News of Jesus Christ. It is very attractive to see someone sincerely speaking from the heart.
However, faith sharing is not something most Catholics are used to or are familiar doing. This page is designed to help individuals and Catholic groups get over this barrier. The more we can begin to share our faith within our own Catholic community with confidence, the more able we will feel, to proclaim the Good News to those outside of it.
Each month we will feature a short faith story. This month we hear from James Wilkinson from Sussex.
A product of the Catholic education system in the 1940’s & 50’s, I had a false image of God. Like the servant entrusted with one talent, I was paralysed by fear yet I seemed to offend Him continually. I seemed to be on a treadmill of sin and forgiveness and couldn’t see beyond it. I thought that I could earn my salvation if only I could follow the rules I had learned at school.
People might well have said that I was a good Catholic. I was active in my parish but it was a fairly moribund place. With hindsight my faith was fairly dead too but the Lord put into my heart a desire for empowerment to invigorate my parish.
I had read Kevin Ranaghan’s Catholic Pentecostals and I had once witnessed an Anglican friend praying in tongues but I didn’t know much about the working of the Spirit. A nun with whom I worked as a Confirmation catechist suggested that I attend a weekend of renewal at Sayers Common near Brighton. There was lots of spontaneous prayer, praise, teaching and people praying in tongues. On the Sunday morning – it was 2nd November 1986 – I was prayed over to receive the Baptism of the Spirit. It was a beautiful prayer. The lady who laid hands on me prayed that I should call God Abba. The Spirit told her exactly what I needed; that was to recognise God as He is – my Dad.
I was expecting something to happen to me when I was prayed with but I felt absolutely nothing. My sense of disappointment was palpable but that was part of God’s plan. The fact is that I was cynical and at times even wondered if He really existed. Had I experienced a manifestation of the Spirit’s power there and then I would probably have rationalised it away as auto-suggestion or hysteria. In fact, it was part of a tailor-made experience. An hour later I was driving home up the M23 thinking about how to spend the rest of my weekend when I was overcome by a profound feeling of joy. It was more intense than anything I have experienced before or since. In his journal John Wesley wrote that on being baptised in the Spirit he felt his heart strangely warmed. I know what he meant.
Jesus baptised me in His Spirit in a way that I could not possibly dismiss or even question. I knew that my life had been utterly changed. In the intervening years I have come to recognise that on that November day God was telling me how much He loved me. I now realise that every detail of my life was planned. The Spirit has led me into situations where I could learn more about Him and receive empowerment to witness to the fact that I am saved by grace through faith in the Son of God who died for me and rose from the dead to give me new life.
Please feel free to send us your faith story. Email: [email protected]
For Faith Stories Archive - click here.