GOD DOESN’T CARE IF YOU’RE CATHOLIC!
A short Story
Written by Dr. Rick McGrath, Ph.D.
The truth of the matter is God doesn’t care if you’re Catholic. In fact he doesn’t care if you are Lutheran, Baptist, Methodist, Pentecostal or Non Denominational. In fact I am sure he doesn’t care what you are as long as you are a follower of Christ. It has long been debated amongst Christians, who are Christians? Can Catholics be Christians? How about any of the other main stream denominations? Can they be Christians? For me, I would think they could be depending on what they really believe, and more importantly how do they really act. Are they acting as followers of Christ? Are they the reflection of his love? Are they spreading the good news about salvation and baptizing them as called for by his final words? Only God can truly know the heart of the individual. We cannot and should not judge or condemn someone or a group of people based on the denomination they feel comfortable worshiping and serving God.
Central Valley California- Rick and his wife Linda moved their family from Southern California to take a job located in the Central Valley. Born and raised Catholic by his parents Luke who fell away for awhile began to feel the call of God in his life. Linda his wife not baptized in any denomination decided it would be a good idea for her to become Catholic since their children and Rick were Catholic. Linda was baptized just prior to relocating while in Southern California.
Rick moved his family and started his new job. After the family got settled in from their move, the children registered in school, they sought out the local Catholic Church. The area Catholic Church was in transition as they were changing Pastors. Rick stopped in to talk with the Pastor, Father Logar and told him that he had some experience in working with the teenage youth while attending his last church. He told Father Logar that he had several children, two that were teenagers. Father Logar told Rick that he and the Deacon taught youth group classes on Wednesday evenings and invited Luke to enroll his two children.
Father Logar said, “Rick at the moment we don’t need any help”.
Rick went back home and talked with his wife Linda and told her that they could get the two teenage children started Wednesday evening.
“Oh good”, said Linda. “I want them to get started as soon as possible”.
Rick and his wife told the two older children that they start this Wednesday and they would be attending the Church program for the youth giving them an opportunity to meet other like minded teenagers.
Wednesday rolled around and Luke hurried the teenagers to Church and got them situated in the class room. There were about 12 other teenagers in class. Rick decided to hang around and observe through the open widows in the class room. To Luke’s surprise the other teenagers were actually children that belonged to gangs in the area. Apparently, their parents dropped them off to catch an hour or so break on Wednesday. The class was in turmoil. The Pastor and the Deacon had no control what so ever. Though they tried to teach their lesson, no one was paying attention. Rick’s teenagers decided that class wasn’t for them and asked permission to leave. Permission was granted so Rick took the two back home.
Rick told Linda what happened and he said, “Linda I am going back to that church and ask if I can take charge of the class”.
“Are you sure you want to get involved with all of that Rick?”
“Of course,” said Rick. “ I feel I have a calling and by God I am going to use it.” Rick hurried back to the church as class was now ending.
Approaching the Deacon and the Pastor, Rick said, “Father Logar, looks like you and Deacon Robby could use a hand. Do you mind if I join you next week?”
Again, Father Logar said, “No thanks Rick we got this”.
“Are you sure,” said Rick. “It really didn’t look like you do.” “In fact it was so unruly my children didn’t feel safe and from what I saw, I don’t blame them.”
With a little bit of raised voice, “No Rick we are sure we don’t need your help.” Somewhat disappointed, Rick returned home.
A few months later Rick received a call from Father Logar asking him if he was still interested in taking over the class. Apparently, unruly youth was something that wasn’t taught at Seminary. Rick agreed and show up for duty the following Wednesday.
Excited that Wednesday was finally here Rick sprung into action with his bible in hand. Arriving early he ran into Father Logar who asked Rick, What’s that you have under your arm?”
“It’s my bible,” Rick said.
“Oh!” said Father Logar. “We don’t use the bible when teaching the kids.”
“Well if you want my help, this is what I use.” “It’s used to break down strong holds and change lives,” said Rick.
Father Logar not sure, he agreed to let Rick have his way. Both Father Logar and Deacon Robby turned the class over to Rick and went back to their church office.
Talking amongst themselves, Deacon Robby said, “ those kids are going to eat him alive.” With a chuckle Father Logar agreed.
Rick now very excited believing he was going to make a difference in the lives of the little gangster boys and girls started by introducing himself to the class. “Hey what’s up?” said Rick in a very loud voice.
At first the kids ignored him. Being persistent he said it again, “Hey what’s up?” with an even louder voice. This time they began to pay attention.
“Look, my name is Rick and if you give me half a chance I promise I will share the secret of life with you that will change your lives forever. How’s that sound to you?” Most of the kids agreed to give him a few minutes to see if he could win them over.
“Lets all stand and pray,” said Rick. “Before we do, I want you to know I pray differently than most of you may be familiar with.” Rick said to the kids,
“ I want you to all face forward, facing me and raise both hands and arms up to heaven and close your eyes.”
Following Rick’s instruction the kids did as he said.
“ Father, I ask that you bless these young ones, I ask you bless their families. We pray Father that you send your angels to the North and gather other teens who are desperate to change their lives and bring them here.” “Now lets all turn to our left and lets do the same thing,” Rick saying to kids.
“Again Father we ask for your blessing upon us and we ask you send your angels to the West and gather those teens that are desperate to change their lives.”
While still praying Father Logar and Deacon Robby had dropped by and took a sneak peak to make sure Rick was still alive. Rick giving further instruction to the class since prayer wasn’t over with yet continued to pray in a similar manor having his class face to the South repeating the same form of prayer and then to the East.
With prayer over he asked everyone to take their seat. He began talking about the bible. He told them that the bible was God’s basic instruction before leaving earth. (B.I.B.L.E.) He told them how much God through his son Jesus loved them and that they were very important to him. He told them that they mattered to God and it didn’t matter what they have done up until now, God would forgive them and love them right where they were. Once he started telling them the gospel message that God so loved the world, that God so loved them, that he sent his only son Jesus to die for them for their sins. When Rick told them that all they had to do was to accept God’s great gift of salvation and ask Jesus into their hearts they would be set free all of the kids began to cry. Male and female. There were no dry eyes in the room. It was as if God reached down and broke the shackles from each of them.
Once the class had ended all of the kids came up to Rick and hugged him and thanked him for coming to take over the class.
When the last teen left the class, Father Logar and Deacon Robby came in and said, “You know Rick we don’t really believe all that stuff you are saying and we really don’t believe God is going to send angels out to gather other teens and bring them to a Catholic church,“ said the Deacon.
“Are you sure you’re a Catholic Rick?” said Father Logar. “ You don’t sound like one.”
“Yes I am. At least that’s what my Baptismal Certificated says.” “Actually though I do prefer to be called Christian, but if it makes you feel more at ease, let’s just say I am a Catholic Christian,” said Rick with a quite laugh.
As the weeks went on, week after week the class began to grow. More and more kids from all over the Central Valley showed up. Week after week Luke taught them from the bible and helped them come to terms with their walk with God. Week after week Father Logar sat in and at the end of each class he would remind Luke that he didn’t agree with everything Rick was saying.
“Rick I don’t know about all this that you are doing,” said Father Logar. “Your class has grown to over one hundred kids now. You know the hall only holds 350 people at a time. You may have to stop sending your angels out to gather up kids” he said in a half joking way.
“Ok Father Logar. When we get to 350 kids I will tell the angels they can take the week off,” Rick laughed back.
Well something was going on because Rick’s class continued to grow, 150 teens, 200, 260, 300 kids started showing up.
Father Logar beside himself came up to Rick after one of his classes and said, “Rick you know how I feel about all that bible talk you do. It’s just something we don’t do, at least in that way when we teach the kids. However, I know something crazy is happening here and I’ll be darn I won’t get in the way!”
Rick just smiled. Unknown to Luke, Father Logar reported this happening to the Bishop who oversaw all the Catholic Churches in the Central Valley. Father Logar suggested the Bishop come down the following Wednesday and to observe for himself.
Sure enough Wednesday came and behold the hall was packed. They had 340 kids show up. Luke doing what he always did, Bishop or no Bishop he always started class off the same. He would ask that God would bless everyone and this time he changed the prayer a little. As they faced the North, West, South and East, Luke asked God to send out his angels and start touching the moms and dads of the teens. It was an unbelievable site to see so many teens in one place praising the Lord lifting there arms and hearts to Jesus. Teens were asking Jesus into their lives. You would have thought it was spiritual camp meeting not a Catholic youth meeting.
After the class the Bishop was introduced to Rick.
“Rick,” he said. Looks like you gotta Jesus movement going on here. How do you explain all of this,” said the Bishop.
“Well Bishop I can’t! All I can tell you is if you aren’t happy you need to take it up with your Boss,” said Rick. “ I’m just a volunteer worker. I show up and God does the rest”
Seeing what the Bishop saw and approving of what Rick was accomplishing, he said to Father Logar, “ Well what do you want me to do about this? If you think I am going to get in the way of my Boss, think again”. The Bishop shook his head and told Rick goodbye.
So I suppose God really doesn’t care if you are Catholic. Looks like as long as you are a follower of Jesus and have a personal relationship with him, that’s all that matters. Rick was proof that God can work through anyone with the willingness to be put to work. It further proves that kids of all ages, races, denominations are all hungry for the word of God. They are starved to hear that their lives matter, that they are loved and forgiven.
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