Testimony Tuesdays: Elyse

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Although the faith had always been an important aspect of my life as I was growing up, before I met Jesus, I was under the impression that I had to work for His love and the love of others.  Despite the many times that I had heard it, I did not believe in my heart that God created me for a reason: to be in a relationship with Him!  I was exhausted and confused, trying to find happiness on my own.

This past spring, I was given the incredible opportunity to study abroad with Franciscan University of Steubenville in Gaming, Austria.  I did not know anybody when I was going into this program and it was very difficult to leave the St. Peter’s community, especially after seeing so many wonderful things starting up the previous fall with FOCUS missionaries and a new pastor.  However, I still felt like the Lord was calling me away and I could not deny the awesome opportunity of being in Europe for a full semester.

So, I went.  I dropped everything and left.  Looking back now, I can see how this call was similar to how the Lord called His disciples at the beginning of His public ministry.  He called them to drop their nets and follow Him.  In the same way, I had to drop so many ministries that I found security in, I left all my family and friends, and I allowed Him to show me new people, new styles of worship, and new cultures.  He had to take me away from everything that was familiar to me in order for my heart to be opened up enough to receive all the healing graces He wanted to pour in. I cannot point to one event in particular, but somehow through the different conversations that I had with my classmates, professors, and the Franciscan friars and sisters who were travelling with us, through what I was learning in my theology and philosophy classes, through the different places that I was experiencing, through receiving love and building a deep community of friendship with people who I had only known for a couple of months, and most of all through a regular prayer life, I met Jesus Christ, the person, and realized how gently He has constantly been pursuing me.  He yearns to make me whole and surpass the deepest longings of my heart!

Coming back to the States, my life has been radically changed.  While I am still serving in many of the ministries I was in before, it is not me anymore who serves, but I have been so overwhelmed with the Lord that I am completely overflowing with Him; to quote St. Paul “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2:20).  Now, the most important part of every day is the time that I get to spend with Jesus in the chapel, talking with Him, heart to heart.

Not every day is perfect; I am still a pilgrim on life’s journey.  However, I am committed 100% to facing these challenges, knowing that Jesus is with me every step of the way and is giving me the tools to become the saint that He is calling me to be!  It is with joy that I would like to share that I am going to be serving as a FOCUS missionary for the next two years, helping college students know the Lord and make Him known to the ends of the earth.

“Now to him who is able to accomplish far more than all we ask or imagine, by the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Eph. 3:20-21

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