Keeping It Real! by Carolyn Lister Owen Wright

My family came to Redeemer in 1970. I was a wandering, sick and hurt soul even though I had spent 31 years in the heart of the church. I had been in church all my life since my father, my grandfather and my husband were Pentecostal ministers. You might say....”I cut my teeth on the back of the church pews” 

The Charismatic Movement was not a stranger to me. My grandparents were involved the the beginnings of the pentecostal movement in early 1906. I was a Christian and received the baptism of the Holy Ghost (Holy Spirit might be what you call it now.) at the age of 10-11 years old. 

However, my soul was in turmoil. I called my sister, Janice Manley and cried my heart out to her. She and her husband, Grady Manley had become involved in the fellowship of Church of Redeemer. Janice talked to Father Graham about my turmoil. He felt the call to come to Jackson, California where we were pastoring a church. Fr Graham, Bill Farra, Mimi and another woman I have long forgotten her name, made the trip to a little church and family in the foothills north of Stockton, California. The group spent several days with us, counseled us and ministered in our church. What a blessing they were to us. 

In s few months with a few belongings in an 8 foot trailer, we resigned our church after 6 years pastoring, we arrive at my mother and father’s home in the 4400 block of Polk with two children in tow. Just a block away from the church. The next Sunday....we were on the second pew ready to immerse ourselves in the the worship and fellowship of Church of Redeemer. I had never attended a liturgical mass. When the choir began to proceed down the aisle, I started crying and I cried all through the mass. This continued for several weeks. I thought I had gone to heaven and the angels were singing to me. Every part of the mass; from the Gloria, the Eucharist, the singing in the spirit to the dismissal was the most glorious experience in my entire life. The sacrifices of the God’s people, the households, the communion (as we called it) every day and Sunday, too. Finally, I was seeing in action all the scriptures I had heard, read and taught all my life. For the first all made sense. 

We immersed ourselves in the body of Christ in every way we could. Morning Bible Studies with Marilyn Mazak and Susan Abbot. Bob Morris had just arrived and was in the class with me. Noon Mass was a must. We rented a house close by and enjoyed the ministry and worship of the parish. In about a year, we sought the elders about becoming a member of a household. Jim & Jane Clowe’s were just opening up their home for household ministry. We move and lived in the garage apartment with our two children and their six? children living out our life together. I volunteered at Lantrip in Nan Pagano’s 6th grade class; Diane’s Special ED class for all day; wrote the song and play for Lantrip’s May Pole; and and helped Nan Pagano create the Dove Nest. What a life!!! God worked miracle in our midst at Lantrip and the Dove Nest..

During the ensuing years, I received many hours of counseling from various people within the church committed to love God’s people in this way. I have much love and gratitude to Fr Jeff , Andy Austin, the deliverance ministry and many other dedicated members for loving me, taking me by the hand and leading to a better fuller life. I had so much hurt, anger and bitterness I had accumulated over the years with my father & mother, different hurtful experiences from those that “had done me wrong.” The tapes played how my daddy and mother were always working for the Lord; too busy for me; very strict with me; leaving me for a couple of months at the age of 8 or 9 all alone in a small trailer taking care of my 10 month sister while my mother worked. Why? My Daddy and older sister were traveling around ministering for the Lord. 

So many other stories I could tell but the point of my sharing is how God was so good to have a dedicated group of God’s people to share and pray with me and for me at the Deliverance house from morning to night for about three days . I hated my mother for working and never having time for me. I hated my Daddy for preaching all the time; moving frequently, lots of different schools and my mother needing to work. They were always working for the Lord. Now how could I, a little girl... fight this mighty God who could send me to hell. For 2 days I went over all my life with story after story of how I was mistreated, neglected and hurt. 

These loving people loved me through this “pity party” until I was able to unload all that baggage. When I was ready to hear some dear one said to me, “Carolyn, you know who you hate. It is not your father nor your mother you hate. All that hate is toward God. You are blaming God for all the things that happened to you. “

Wow!!! It hit me like a ton of bricks. Oh no..I couldn’t hate God. I love God. I have worked for him all my life. When I prayed and ask God for forgiveness for the anger and hated I had for him, a new freedom and light came into my soul. I came to know the true love of God. I really came to know how much he loved me, a sinner. It is not what I have done...good or bad. His love for me is constant and immeasurable. 

All this came to me by imperfect people that God loved just like he did an imperfect me. It took several years to complete this healing but I have never doubted God’s love for me. My time at Redeemer made a lasting impression upon me, help me to grow up, strengthen my spirit and made me strong. For 20 years, I now attend a Catholic church in Houston called “Prince of Peace Community.” Redeemer shared with Prince of Peace in the early 70’s. My priest, Fr John Keller was assistant pastor during this time of the spirit’s outpouring in our community.

Doesn’t God have a sense of humor....from Pentecostal to Catholic.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-- think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me-- put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”. Philippians 4:8-9

We are to be careful of what we meditate on because it forms our character and our character determines our actions.

Wendy E. Mims-Rivas Thank you for sharing your testimony of your time at Redeemer. I love that you see the blessings that came from the Lord through imperfect people and all ; )

Elaine Carr What a wonderful testimony. Thank you.

Lucy Cook Deliganis thank you so much! Your story is such a blessing : -)

Daphne Hazel Rank All this came to me by imperfect people that God loved just like he did an imperfect me.....I LOVE THIS! Thanks for sharing! Bless you.

Diane Andrew Carolyn, thanks for sharing this. I agree with Daphne.

Cherie Binns Loved it. So many familiar names that 35 year away have dimmed. Oh, I went from Prebyterian to Catholic with Redeemer being a stepping stone along the way. God is so good to have a place for each of use where we can best hear and be fed and use our gifts.

Gene C Antill 
Carolyn, You made my day with your story. Thanks. I am going to my second chemo treatment tomorrow I am taking a print out of your e mail with me. From one Catholic to another. I.H.S.

Carolyn Lister Owens Wright I am sorry to hear you are having to go through Chemo. I will be praying for you tomorrow. Keep the faith! My mother had lung cancer and she lived 20 years after having a portion of her lung removed. Keep in touch.

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