Kneeling on the cold linoleum floor while listening to my grandmother chant out the rosary in Spanish is a memory that is ingrained in my mind. In her devotion and zeal, she gathered her grandchildren around her like a little flock of sheep and taught us the prayers on Sunday afternoons. She was a lifelong committed Roman Catholic, an immigrant from Mexico who instilled in her grandchildren a reverence for God. Growing up with such a devout abuelita, I dutifully did all that was expected of me: my first communion, after school catechism classes, confirmation, even parish high school youth group. As a teenager, I often went to mass by myself and found a sense of comfort in the liturgy and rituals. Yet, I knew I was not right with God. I knew that I was a sinner and could never do enough penance to get past purgatory. I felt very hopeless.
The year after I graduated from high school, I met my future husband Mike and his family. I remember thinking there was something different about these people. They weren’t a perfect family, but there was a love and genuineness in their relationships that I had never seen. In hindsight, I see that it was the light and love of Christ shining, something that was attractive to me. They invited me to church, which was a Calvary Chapel in Orange County, California.
Out of politeness and curiosity I accepted the offer and joined them. During the sermon, I heard the gospel in a very different way. It was the first time I had ever heard someone say that Christ had paid for my sins. He was the solution to my fallen condition. No amount of chanting the rosary, confessions, or good works could save me. It’s incredible that I grew up attending mass and never understood this basic fact. Yet, here I was, dumbfounded by the gospel. By the end of the service, I was shaken and convicted. As I left the church I was introduced to the pastor who had known my husband since he was a boy. He smiled at me and gently asked, “Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?” I was caught off guard, confused and not exactly sure what he meant. I nervously muttered something incoherent and left. But I came back the next week, and every week afterwards. By God’s amazing grace, I came to true faith in Christ.
… As difficult as it was to leave our church family, we knew it was for the best. The following Sunday we sat in the back pew of Escondido United Reformed Church. That first Sunday, we drank in the gospel preaching that consistently pointed us to Christ as our only hope. Instead of a list of to-dos, we heard that Christ had done it all. In place of uncertainty of our salvation, we learned how Christ had justified us and continues to sanctify us through our lives. In short, we learned how we were saved by grace alone, through faith alone, because of Christ alone, and that as a result whatever we do in life we do for the glory of God alone. Read more»
Janie Brown | “From Rome To Geneva” | May 14, 2022
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