A new family
Hello, I'm Anna Born from Germany. I am 22 years old and a Kindergarden teacher by profession. Together with my two sisters I grew up as a "sunday-christian". My parents took us for mass every sunday. But during the week, they seemed to forget the Lord and so we were never taught anything about our faith and the Catholic Church. When I was eight years old, this suddenly changed.
At my uncle's urging, my parents joined a pilgrimage to Medjugorje (a small village in Bosnia), where they strongly experienced the love and presence of the Lord in their life and the guidance and motherly care of our dear Mother Mary. Soon, a change came over my parents and our lives. As we were still too young to understand what was happening, we blindly followed our parents to Church, listened to their teachings and explanations about Christ and the Catholic faith and joined the daily family-prayer. My friends had seen the change in our family. At the beginning they liked it, to come and listen to my mother when she was speaking about God. When my mother called for the divine Mercy Prayer in the afternoon, my friends also left their games and joined our prayer. But according to the German school system, after year four, we had to change to a new school. We had to leave most of our friends and our new classmates did not respect us or our way with the Lord. I painfully experienced, what it means to be an outsider, how it is like to be alone.
Being constantly mocked, laughed at and beaten because of my faith, my whole personality changed. I lost my courage to talk to other people, my contacts with youngsters of my age, my joy, my desire to go out and most of all, my ability to smile. My parents tried to help and support my sisters and me as much as they could. My mother asked us to pray for and forgive those pupils who mocked us, that they might one day realise how much their actions hurt us and find the love of Christ. Finally my parents heard about a Catholic youth movement called Totus Tuus and sent us to join the pilgrimages and weekend programmes. But as we were the only members from this part of Germany, we had to re- charge during the weekends and survive until the next meeting. Very often I prayed and asked the Lord to give me a friend, who shares my faith and understands me.
In December 2006 I got to know about the Jesus Youth. I had been invited for the first retreat, conducted by Jesus Youth in Germany. I still thank and praise the Lord for bringing me there. Because of my lack of self-confidence and shyness, I resisted to attend the retreat. But forced by my mother, I finally said yes to the invitation of the Lord. In Jesus Youth, for the first time in my life, I experienced being part of a family. I learned that it doesn't matter, how I look or where I come from. The only thing that really matters is, who I am. I learned to identify myself as a precious gift of the Lord, as His creation, made in His own image, in His likeness. I did not need any mask to be accepted. I could feel and see His love in the faces of His people and experienced the joy and peace in and with my Lord. Finally I had found a new family – my family in Christ and I was a part of it.
When I came back home, the Lord had given me a new fire and a desire to reach out to the youth of this world. I wanted to go and share the love of Christ with everyone, just like it had been shared with me. As I did not know, how I can do this, I started asking the Lord and praying to find my way. In Summer 2007 I got the answer: I was invited to participate in the 2nd International Fulltime Volunteers' Training in Bangkok. After all that we had heard and learned during the training, the desire in me to take a one year commitment grew more and more. The small candle in my heart became a big fire. But as I was doing my studies, I had to wait. Also, I did not want to start my mission without the blessings of my parents. So for over a year, I dedicated my weekends and free time to the Lord. I am amazed to see, how the Lord helped me to change and to grow. Through many small and big incidents the Lord helped me to give my whole being to Him. He is my creator and He knows me better than anyone else. "In whom can I trust, if not in the Lord?" I learned to use my hobbies and talents for the glory of the Lord, who has given it to me as an instrument to reach out to nations, be a witness for Him and share His love with His people. Also my weaknesses, I could surrender completely to Him, who has the power to complete it with His strength.
After my studies and with the prayers, support and help of many sisters and brothers from Jesus Youth, I could finally follow the call of the Lord. In March 2009, I came to UK as a European Fulltime Volunteer. Today I am travelling across Europe, the Middle East and Asia, reaching out to youth, for Jesus. Jesus said: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me...", very soon I had to experience that the way of the Lord is not always the easiest way. But like Antoine de Saint-Exupéry says in his book, The Little Prince: "One sees clearly only with the heart. Anything essential is invisible to the eyes". Jesus opened the eyes of my heart and I could see, that the Lord had walked with me through all my struggles. He had lifted me up, when I fell. He strengthened me, when I was weak and carried me, when I could not walk. In times when I felt lonely, He had been closer to me than ever. When I look back now, I see how He had prepared me for a mission that is just right for me. The Lord is calling each one of us and giving us a personal invitation to be a prophet to the nations, as He says in Jeremiah. 1:5.
Many times I experienced that the darkness in this world is growing. Too many people are searching for a sense in their lives. But only a few have found the Light of the World. Inflamed by the love of Christ, let us shine and enlighten the darkness around us to make it as bright as the day and help many to discover the way to the eternal life in our and their Saviour and Lord. "Hallelujah, receive the Power of the Holy Spirit to be a light unto the World."