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Turn to Jesus (Article)

"Only One Thing Remains The Same"
I wanted to show every lonely kid, rebellious teenager, successful young professional, struggling parent, experienced grandparent, that there really is a purpose to life, that it is worth living and that there is something bigger than us and this world!

Lisa Small
Lisa Small, right, and two co-workers
Your Kingdom Come!

Passion, restlessness, God’s Hand and the testimony of the Legionaries of Christ and consecrated members of Regnum Christi were the main means God used to convince a New Zealand girl, tears in her eyes, to leap onto an airplane destined for the unknown. God’s task was not easy but in the end His love won me for Himself, and I made the biggest leap of faith I had ever made… This was the start of life-changing, purifying, joy-filled journey of my co-worker year!

Although of South African birth, I immigrated with my parents to New Zealand at age twelve. It was there that the plan God had in mind for me from all eternity unfolded.

I belong to a family of five: my father who isn´t “religious”, my mother who is Portuguese and my two younger sisters, Michele, sixteen and Sara, fourteen. I was brought up going to mass on Sundays but was never really interested in church and my mother actually had to force me to go because I would much rather have hung out with my friends and boyfriend than go to a boring mass. I didn’t attend a Catholic school, nor did I know much about my Catholic Faith, let alone would I pray.

My faith has never been very strong but when I look back, I was very spiritually sensitive in my first eight years of life; I would sing to Jesus and not be able to go to sleep without mum praying with me every night. The problems began when I moved from South Africa to New Zealand and I lost all self-confidence. I wanted to be accepted in society and that meant jeopardizing the morals my parents had always taught me. From the time I was fourteen to sixteen I would have done anything to be cool. Religion was totally uncool, so I never admitted that I went to mass every Sunday. I didn´t really pray unless I was really in trouble. And yet God didn’t let me go without a fight.

In my senior year at high school, my life turned very dark. Even though I had everything going for me, I didn’t understand why although I had everything the world told me would make me happy, I still felt so empty, lost and uncertain. I didn’t want to exist. Everywhere I turned to find help left me even emptier than I began. And so when I was at the worst, God shone a little beam into my heart and in a week of immense grace I turned to God for help. In that week my whole life changed. I started going to retreats and youth group, doing things in my parish, praying and even enjoying mass. I began to realize that I am worth something and that I mean a lot to God. All of a sudden I began to love life and became very thirsty for the truth. I found it in the Catholic Church.

I went to a public school and didn´t have any religious friends, so
Lisa Small, far left, and her family
Lisa Small, far left, and her family
I began to drift from my friends as I realized I couldn´t share my faith with them. The same thing happened with my first serious boyfriend, and I finished high school losing my boyfriend, friends, and not going to university, despite my scholarships. God had stripped me of everything so as to purify me and get me ready for the next plan He had in mind.

I began working at an insurance company, but every day I was doing something for the Church, like leading the youth group, singing at masses, helping to organize retreats, giving talks and testimonies. For the first time in my life I was living a true life of grace. I was going to daily mass, bi-weekly confession, weekly holy hours, doing apostolate, having a pure, healthy relationship, and spending more time with my family, my parents especially. I was very happy, but I still wasn’t giving enough!

That was when I found out about the Co-worker program, a year or more of volunteering full-time in a Regnum Christi apostolate, wherever the Church needs. I prayed and discerned a long time and decided to do it

I wanted to be a co-worker because I wanted to really give back to God what He had given me. I wanted to do something huge for my faith and be a witness of Christ and His gospel. I wanted to surrender myself fully to Him because He had given me back my life! I felt the restlessness in my heart to do something about the current situation in the world and I wanted my contribution to make a difference. I wanted to show every lonely kid, rebellious teenager, successful young professional, struggling parent, experienced grandparent, that there really is a purpose to life, that it is worth living and that there is something bigger than us and this world!

So I arrived in America, uncertain of everything. I thought that I would be the only “normal” girl there; that all the other missionaries would be really pious and holy. But I was pleasantly surprised to find them all exactly like me—just with different accents. They were pious, holy, very cool, and totally on fire for Christ.

I had the best year of my life in Michigan living with fourteen other young women from seven countries. The friendships I made there will last forever because we grew as close as sisters. I loved working with the girls, especially seeing them knowing and experiencing Jesus Christ as a real and dynamic person in their lives! My year gave me all the tools I need for whatever vocation to which God will call me, whether consecrated or married, because God found me and I found Him. Through my prayer life and the amazing adventures I had—from Rome in the Jubilee year to the poorest towns in Mexico—I realized that only one thing remains the same – Jesus Christ!

My leap of faith radically changed my life, but it was what I was seeking and what made me the happiest: the gift God gives to those who give to Him!

Editor’s Note: Lisa Small attended the candidacy program for discernment of the consecrated life during the summer of 2001, and consecrated her life to Jesus Christ in the Regnum Christi Movement on August 25, 2001. She is currently in her first year of formation at Mater Ecclesiae College in Rhode Island, praying, studying and working to be a full-time apostle at the disposal of the needs of the Catholic Church.

Lisa Small



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