We are the Fifth Gospel! People have to read our lives – what we are doing, what we are saying and how do we react! What is our relationship with God and our fellow man? So proclaimed ICPE Missionary Sheila Libano at Dove’s first meeting of the year in February.

Do we have joy in our lives? If we don’t have the personal connection with God that we all need then joy will not flow. The only way we can connect with God is through a personal prayer time. It is not going to Mass, praying the Rosary or prayer meetings – it’s making time available to sit with God so he can change us.

Sheila went on to say that God has kept us all alive for another year – and what is new about this year? Why are we all here? Yes, God has poured out his blessings, graces and favours in the past – but we are not here to receive something for ourselves, the challenge this year is – are we ready to
do something for God or are we running away again? Are we ready to take the risk of being humbled? Each of us has a special job (we are handpicked) that he has given us to do for him and we are never too old! He wants to work miracles through us. We are all pregnant with Jesus but if we keep the baby in the womb we destroy the life that is there – and we are born to deliver and proclaim the good news of salvation to others. Many of us consider ourselves unworthy, and many other things besides, and all of this keeps us bound.

Everyone is called to evangelize — Pope Francis Evangelii Gaudium states (and I quote in part) Every Christian is challenged, here and now, to be actively engaged in evangelization; indeed, anyone who has truly experienced God’s saving love does not need much time or lengthy training to go out and
proclaim that love. Every Christian is a missionary to the extent that he or she has encountered the love of God in Christ Jesus: we no longer say that we are “disciples” and “missionaries”, but rather that we are always “missionary disciples”

And now a little bit about this passionate woman of God. Sheila has worked for 12 years with ICPE, mainly in India. Her early years were one of desolation and rejection. Rejected and cursed by her mother she experienced no love at all, and at the age of seven was sent away to become a domestic maid. She lived a lonely life with no one to play with or talk to, and she believed the lies that she was a useless good-for-nothing and, understandably, she had a great fear of authority. Later on in life her fiancé was to reject her and she twice attempted suicide.

Sheila never dreamed she would be a missionary, but God had other plans, and at her first retreat. He spoke to her and said ‘Even though your mother and father forsake you, I will never forsake you. And God didn’t allow her to sink into her problems. Even though she considered herself so unworthy, God had a mission for her that only she could fulfil – and he has a mission for each of us.

But God is a gentleman and gives us free will – and He is giving us another chance to do those things that we failed to do last year. Will we be his disciple? Will we take his good news out to others? Quoting Mother Teresa, Sheila said “Evangelisation is having Jesus in you and giving Him to others”. Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time, and always start with the person nearest you.

Sheila ended her talk with these words and I quote: “Dear friends let us raise our hands as a sign of surrender to the Lord as we sing the song – ‘Here I am Lord’, sincerely committing ourselves to the Lord once again and telling the Lord, Lord you have given me this year I want to give this year in return O Lord for my life – and if you feel convicted and feel you really feel you want to entrust yourselves totally to the Lord I invite you to stand as a sign of true surrender as we sing ‘Here I am Lord’.”