Author's experience in a faith-based program
|‘RENEWed’ without any ‘Bible-thumping’
By Mary Pat Strenger Loomis
As published in The Catholic Review, 3/20/96
As I reach the halfway point of RENEW’s fourth season, I am reminded of my initiation into this program. In my spiritual quest for wisdom, I knew immediately that this would be beneficial and, in the fall of ’94, I signed up, harboring three assumptions.
I assumed the members of this small faith-sharing group would be primarily women, since most men I know are spiritually unemployed. Wrong! At least half, if not more, of the attendees at each session are non-females. I have definitely been enriched by their insights and perspectives.
My second assumption was about the personality types I would encounter. If these folks proved to be hard-core bible-thumpers, they would probably be witnessing my exodus. Surprise again. To the untrained eye, the group appears almost normal. But after an evening of prayer and discussion among diverse personalities, what surfaced was deep spirituality, personal relationships with the Lord and extraordinary knowledge of the bible, church history and the lives of the saints.
I felt like a thirsty sponge, absorbing all this information and spirituality and offering my own insights when possible. I felt slightly inadequate, for I came to the group biblically illiterate and I understood that RENEW was not a bible-study program. However, our frequent references and ensuing discussions of both testaments have considerably broadened my knowledge and understanding of His word (though I have yet to thump.)
Last, I assumed the atmosphere would be serious and somber. Seriously, we have a lot of laughs and open each session in song! (And I’m not about to tell my baby-sitting husband.)
I have experienced wonderful improvements in personal relationships, made prayer time a priority and received signs from the Lord (once, after praying to the Holy Spirit for guidance, I asked for a sign of his presence as suggested by my RENWEW facilitator. A few hours later my 3-year-old giggled and exclaimed, “Mommy, you’re on fire!”)
Consequently, this ‘sponge’ fortified with “RENEWed’ energy, has been doing a lot of deep-cleaning, and things sure are sparkling around here!