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I am starting this series to share my journey from being brought up a Protestant Oneness Pentecostal to finally finding my home in the Catholic Church.
Although I do not have some great and riveting conversion story like being knocked off a horse or hearing a voice from heaven, it is my story, my experience, and I pray it will touch someone.
Pentecostal To Catholic – Far But Not That Far…
I am not writing this to put down or talk against any other religion. This is by no means an advanced ‘theological debate’.
It is just a ‘condensed’ sharing of how I made the journey from a Devout Oneness Pentecostal to finding the beauty and fullness of the Catholic Church.
Loved being Pentecostal then and I deeply love being Catholic now. Actually, they are not as far from one another as it may seem. There are differences, but in my experience, I have found that one just completes & brings the former to fullness.
I love the life God has blessed me with. And I am very happy that I was brought up in a Christian way of life. My mother was always a wonderful example of how to stay faithful to Jesus even during the struggles of marriage, joys of life & the many hard times.
I am beginning with my upbringing and an overview of the religion that was passed on to me. This is to give a better picture of just how far or how short of a distance, as it seems, I have journeyed.
I was born into a Pentecostal religion. My mother was from the branch of the United Pentecostal Church. My father was brought up Seventh Day Adventist, but he did not practice any faith.
So, my mother took on the responsibility of handing on the faith and the love of Jesus to my two sisters and myself.
She taught us to pray, to make sure we read the Bible, and that we make sure we behaved like Christians most of the time.
During my childhood, we moved a lot. But, every time we moved to a different state or town, my mother always searched for and found a church for us to attend.
We attended church services every Sunday morning and evening. We also would attend every Wednesday evening, Friday for youth group and special services throughout the year.
Attending Church Was A Joy
Attending church was a common, joyful, and usual occurrence. Many times I witnessed the Holy Spirit moving, touching, and transforming lives. The church was where I felt at home and it was where I felt I was meant to be. I loved the music, singing, fellowship, worshiping, and anointed preaching.
Even if the church may last two or more hours, I loved it. (I remember this when my kids complain that an hour Mass is just way too long)
I have heard many fiery sermons. And to be honest, the homilies I hear today could use some ‘Holy Spirit anointing‘. I love preaching that challenges you and motivates you to look at your life and address those things that need addressing. Sad to say, but some homilies I hear today fall a little short of that.
My mother would always make sure our hair was perfect and we were wearing a dress for every service. Absolutely no pants were allowed.
Honestly, I did not like it much back then, but now I appreciate it. Wearing a dress to church is a habit that I am so grateful that my mother instilled in me. It just feels more appropriate and respectful to me
I never ever heard of the term theology or doctrine when I was growing up. I just knew the basic guidelines that we Pentecostals lived by and how we knew we were saved and going to heaven.
The belief is that once you are baptized and receive the Holy Ghost – confirmed by you receiving the ‘gift of tongues’ – you are saved and will undoubtedly make it to heaven. Unless you backslide, begin to live a sinful life, and proceeded to live your life away from the church.
It was also believed that the teaching of a Trinity was far from the truth. The Oneness Pentecostal branch that believes that there is one God who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit all at once…They do not believe that there is one God but, in three distinct persons. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Also, Oneness Pentecostals baptize in the ‘Name of Jesus“. Not in the Trinitarian formula that the Catholic Church has used in Baptism for over two thousand years.
The list of ways you should appear and conduct yourself as a practicing Pentecostal contained guidelines like…
- girls & women: no pants, no makeup, no nail polish
- girls & women: wear long skirts or dresses
- girls & women: no cutting your hair, or coloring it for that matter
- no movie theaters
- no television
- no attending dances
- no listening to secular music
It was very easy to spot a fellow female churchgoer by the long hair carefully piled up in a bun on their head and the long skirt they wore.
In my immediate family, my mother was a little more liberal as she did not require my sisters and me to wear dresses every day. We could cut our hair a little ( we had to keep it long, but could have layers) and some makeup. We had a TV and were allowed to listen to gospel and country music.
However, we were not able to attend dances, listen to rock music, go to parties, or go to the movie theater.
These are the habits I formed and is how I lived my faith out until I was eighteen.
Church attendance was at least three days a week until I started to work, then I may have missed a Wednesday or Friday service. But, we always were in church on Sundays – morning and night.
Living My Faith
Living as what you would consider a faithful Pentecostal. I loved praising God and listening to gospel music. I prayed regularly and attended church and special services when they were offered.
Jesus was my first love and wanted I to know more about him, please him, and grow closer to him. He answered many of my childhood prayers and I always believed he was the Son of God.
Faith Leads To Discovery
I had been given the gift of faith at a very young age. That faith has remained with me and has continued to grow to this day. I was also gifted early in life with a questioning, curious, and truth-seeking mind.
These two distinct gifts are what ultimately opened my heart and mind to the possibility that there was more. I even asked the question once to my mother, “how do we know we are the right religion?“
My faith and truth-seeking attributes increased my desire for more of truth & more of God in my life.
And at the age of twenty-five, divorced with two children, and after six years of not attending any church, God stepped in. Through my now-husband, God extended an invitation to me that would begin to change my life and lead me to a faith I could never have dreamed of…
To be continued…
Read Part 2 Here
A Catholic mom of 10 & a Deacon’s wife.
I Help Inspire Christian Women to Grow in Their Faith & Share with Others, Improve their Health, and Create Whole-Life-Wellness From the Inside Out.