Catalina first discovered our local church family at a Fourth of July picnic in 2004. She was living in a different city at the time, but her brother had just moved into the community where the party was. She didn’t personally connect with any of the people from our church family that day, but she remembers an announcement about when and where the church gathered. Something about what she saw and heard that day sparked an interest deep down inside of her. That was our first connection.
Quite unexpectedly, as God would have it, she ended up getting a promotion and transferring to a bank branch near where our church family gathered. It happened to be the bank where we would soon open our accounts. We met Catalina when we officially opened an account there at that bank. She remembered the Fourth of July picnic and connected us with that church family she had heard about there. We invited her to our Sunday gathering, but she later recalled, “It took me a while to build up the courage to go, because I was by myself.”
About a month later, she showed up to “try” our Sunday gathering. She remembered later how genuinely loving and interested in getting to know her everyone seemed to be. She told me she had never felt anything like that “in a church” before. That was a second connection.
At that gathering, one of our ladies invited Catalina to come to be a part of a ladies’ group. She was invited again at the bank, when we went in to make a deposit. Catalina was longing for friendship, and being new to the area, she decided to go. She loved the way the ladies made her feel, like she belonged even though they hardly knew her. That was the third connection. And fourth and fifth and so on, because she connected with more than one woman that night.
Over time, she began to do more than spectate. She began to participate. And the conversations she participated in and the times that they would discuss the Bible and the life they did together stirred up something in her heart. She had been exposed to forms of Christian religion growing up, but in this group of ladies she saw the love of Jesus alive and radiant.
Parts of her personal life would have bothered certain “churchgoers,” but no one scolded her. Those ladies loved on her, accepted her where she was, were simply her friend, and without compromising anything allowed God’s Spirit to speak to her heart. And He did. She was reading His letters of love in the lives of those ladies who included her and who were living sent right before her eyes…
[an excerpt from LIVE SENT: you are a letter. You can read the rest of Catalina’s story in chapter one of the book. Here’s another quote from chapter one below.]
Before He spoke time into existence, God planned to step into it to restore a relationship that we put into disrepair. In the fullness of time, He came (Galatians 4:4).