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Encountering God in Heartbreak


This Advent, we reached out to our network and asked, “Where did you encounter God this year?”

Today’s response comes from Megeen Testa White, a board member who was one of  our very first missioners back in 1991 to 1993 when she served in Zimbabwe. Megeen is now a nurse and lives in Silver Spring, Md.

Where have I not encountered God? As I reflect on these past months and look for God’s appearance I am awed by the instances (theophanies) when God shows up – many of which I may not have noticed at the time, but upon reflection these occurrences become much clearer. I will share a few.

  • Accompanying women newly diagnosed with breast cancer there are moments of incredible fear, sadness, loss, anger and pain; I see God’s face in their experiences of these moments, hear God’s cries as they grapple with a new and uncertain reality and I am in awe of God’s grace pouring through as they struggle to move forward, find hope, learn acceptance and take on this new challenge, that has seemingly taken over their lives, with extraordinary strength. In these sacred moments of vulnerability and community and in these amazing individuals I encounter God.
  • Each evening when I walk with Clare, our yellow lab, and meet strangers on the street – people from all over the world walking to or from work, shopping, or an appointment; God is there, offering a smile, a greeting, a pat on the head for Clare or sometimes conversation. These walks also help me to be aware of God’s presence in the wonders of creation. We’ve encountered God in brilliant sunsets, trees aflame with autumn colors and gentle deer who are undaunted by our presence; we’ve listened to the still, small voice of God in quiet streams and cool summer breezes, smelled God’s freshness in new earth being overturned in the spring, budding flowers and rotting leaves in the woods. In strangers on the streets and in the miracles of nature I encounter God.
  • However, I continue to be most amazed as I encounter God each time I read an FMS blog, newsletter, letter or e-mail from one of our missioners detailing an amazing story or a daily walk through the market.

    Journeying vicariously with our missioners, I discover God’s presence in each of them as their faith is challenged and transformed and in the individuals and communities they accompany who find joy, hope and courage in the midst of incredibly difficult circumstances and whose enduring perseverance in their struggle for justice despite insurmountable barriers puts my meager efforts of advocacy, prayer and gospel living to shame.

    Through the missioners stories I am reminded of all that breaks the heart of God and that I must let break my heart as well. Often it is through our own woundedness that we come to encounter God and God’s love for those who are poor or marginalized thus expanding our vision of the kingdom, increasing our understanding of our role in its creation and being moved to act on the call to participate in Christ’s mission. In the stories and experiences of our missioners and those they accompany I encounter God.

Continue to journey vicariosly with our missioners by checking back here every day during Advent for another person’s story. Visit our Facebook to tell us where YOU encountered God this year!

We prepare and support lay Catholics for two-year international, one-year domestic and 1-2 week short-term mission service opportunities in solidarity with impoverished and marginalized communities across the globe.

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