September 5, 2012 by eneubauer
Who would have guessed that a combination punch from Blockbuster Video and Blessed Teresa of Calcutta would have had such an impact on this protestant pastor’s spiritual direction over a decade ago. Yes, I am Catholic (& LOVING IT) but I spent over a decade serving Christ and my neighbor as a pastor and missionary. You may be asking, “How did Blockbuster Video & Mother Teresa collude to evangelize me?”
Prior to my conversion at 21, I was an agnostic battling addiction among other things. Through a friend I was introduced to Jesus, Holy Scripture and the opportunity to receive Him as my Lord and Savior. I was desperately in need of saving (still am) therefore I went home and on bended knee asked Jesus to “come in” to my empty life. He did and within six short months I experienced a radical transformation. The scripture states,
“Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” (Luke 7:47 ESV)
This story in Luke 7:41-50 describes me to a tee. I was a sinner in the prodigal son sense of the word and when Christ came in He enveloped me in His radical, life-changing love and invested in me a deep love for my neighbor, especially those who are marginalized in societies throughout our world. It is at this point that Mother Teresa made her entrance into my life.
As a protestant pastor, of both college & career aged adults, we committed our summers to serve those missionaries that our church supported in different countries around the world. Therefore we were tasked with developing a missions training program that would help lay members of our community be prepared to travel, evangelize, participate in prayer ministry, and simply serve the needs of the poor. In the development of our program I suggested that we use a documentary video of Mother Teresa that I had seen on previous occasions. I was tasked with acquiring the video so I went to Blockbuster Video to rent it until I could purchase my own copy. I found the video and brought it to the check-out counter. To my surprise the individual at the counter simply said, “You may have it.” Of course I looked at him with surprise and said, “have it?” He replied, “yes, no one else is renting it and it’s quite old.” I happily took it as a sign from GOD that the utilization of this video as an instrument of training was exactly the right path. We used it for many years with success as part of our training process. However, something strange happened to me.
The repetition of watching this video encouraged my passion for the poor / marginalized and gave me an inquisitive spirit relating to the Catholic thought and theology. Connect this experience with our service alongside the Missionaries of Charity in Honduras, my growing love for Catholic authors / speakers and ongoing conversations with “random” Catholics on my personal journey and it equates to crossing the Tiber and coming home to the Catholic Church. Often times we forget that it isn’t the BIG EVENTS that have a radical effect on our lives but the culmination of micro-events that end up creating a platform for ongoing conversion. Lucky for me I continued welcoming the opportunity for ongoing conversion and eventually I cam home to the Catholic Church.
Thank you Blessed Teresa of Calcutta for your ongoing intercessions and the Missionaries of Charity who allowed time and space for me to ask so many questions. It feels good to be home.