LSS: My Encounter with the Holy Spirit
Rejoice with me. To quote in Revelation 21:5 “He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”
Rejoice goes beyond being happy. It brings us JOY AND CELEBRATION. This is how I felt when I attended my first LIFE IN THE SPIRIT SEMINAR (LSS). It was at St. Valentine Church in the year of 1999. This was 18 years ago as of this writing. The joy and celebration come from a sense of belonging and of participating in something much bigger than myself.
To this day it brings tears of joy to think of how God’s love was there all along and how my ride with the Holy Spirit began. I realized and believed that relationship with God was established when I was baptized at my infancy. My next personal encounter was when I was confirmed together with my brothers when my parents heard the bishop is coming to our parish in Pasay City (Our Lady of Sorrows). I was 7 years old then. I received both sacraments of baptism and confirmation as arranged by my parents without having any idea what will be my connection with the Holy Spirit until I attended the Life in the Spirit Seminar. One thing for sure—the graces of those two events continue to bless me to this very day.
As a young child going to MASS as a family every Sunday was a pleasant experience because it was considered a FAMILY DAY. My brothers and I would wish that there would be short homilies and if it happened it was greatly appreciated. Our pastor was German and his assistant was a vibrant Filipino priest. I went to my first confession to the Filipino priest and while I was a bit anxious I remember him being very caring and inspiring. He was fondly loved by the parishioners. His name was Fr. Pascual Leviste.
As a child I develop a simple faith. My mother was my spiritual mentor. My mother would say that God loves me. Mother wanted me to focus on what God can do for me or how God can protect and shield me. My simple faith became shaky when I contracted polio at the age of three during the polio epidemic in the Philippines.
Polio is a disease that attacks the nervous system. It is an infectious disease that affects children under the age of 5, although other age groups can also be affected. Around 1 in 200 cases of polio will cause permanent paralysis, but thanks to recent world efforts against polio (including a vaccine), the extent of the disease has decreased by a large margin. In some areas, polio has even been eradicated, including Europe and North America.
That event in my life led me to think concretely or simply understand how God relates to me. When my therapy began my mother would pray every night at her altar to ask the intercession of our Mother of Perpetual Help to help me learn to walk again. I went to school and received the highest education my parents could provide me with the assistance of scholarship. I left the Philippines in August 1982 and immigrated to the United States and got married. With my physical condition against all medical odds our union was blessed with three healthy children.
It was God’s plan that my husband and I were invited by my brother to be a part of the St. Valentine Prayer Group at the start of the summer in 1999. It was during that summer that our prayer group sponsored a Life in the Spirit Seminar.
My husband and I never attended a charismatic group. Neither of us had any idea of what we were getting into. We just felt prompted to go that Saturday morning. When we arrived there was a group singing and praising. My husband and I were among those invited for the two- day seminar. We looked at each other unsure of whether or not we were staying. We both said “yes”. We registered and we were ushered in to help ourselves for breakfast.
There were a lot of speakers and testimonies during the two days. I remembered the moderator was Bro Conrad. He said that none of the FAITH stuff would make sense unless we gave the Lord our YES, our personal commitment. He mentioned that our parents could only take us so far but what God desired was our own personal commitment to HIS plan. Bro Conrad’s testimony fascinated and intrigued me.
I had always believed in Jesus. I know that with my mother’s prayer He healed me and made me learn to walk again. There was never a time I doubted His existence and the importance of having Him in my life. The succession of talks and testimonies deepened my desire to really know Him.
On Sunday morning there was the BAPTISM OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. God did something wonderful in me. As people layed hands on me, I heard prayers and thanksgiving being lifted and being known to God in my behalf. I felt a warm sense of power covering my whole body. Tears began to come down. I cannot explain and I got overwhelmed. The lights were off. There were spiritual songs sung by the music ministry that filled the whole room. When everything stopped I felt PEACE. They turned on the LIGHTS. Bro Conrad said that was the HOLY SPIRIT.
Boom! I was being given the introduction to the power of the HOLY SPIRIT. While still in tears I felt God’s power beyond human comprehension. I was experiencing the coming of the HOLY SPIRIT in my life. Whatever happened throughout the session I felt the Holy Spirit touch me. There was one point I was singing with the music ministry. While Bro Conrad was explaining to us the power of the HOLY SPIRIT I started to pray and told the Holy Spirit that I wanted to know HIM. I surrendered everything about myself. I said please BE MY FRIEND. I was covered by GOD’S LOVE through the Holy Spirit.
On our way home I told my husband I felt I needed something more. What’s next? There was the urgency to build a relationship with the Holy Spirit.
I soon developed a great love and hunger for the SCRIPTURE, for prayer, a deeper love for the Mass , and a desire to belong to a community. The Spirit was doing something NEW and it was being experienced by me. I felt blessed and thrilled to have this NEWNESS in me.
My husband and I attended our prayer meeting the following Friday with our children. Through this prayer group’s encouragement of prayer and support we registered for the MARRIAGE ENCOUNTER that fall of 1999. We believed in our FAITH that God was teaching my husband and me more about the gifts of the Holy Spirit and how to use His gifts for His Kingdom and Glory.
The Holy Spirit changed my prayer life. I have learned that when praying we can come to God through our Savior Jesus Christ. When God does answer, things can and do happen. Praying for one another can and does make a difference. We have to listen to what He is saying through the Holy Spirit.
Late in February 2000 my mammogram result showed a marked difference as compared to the previous year. I went in a state of deep depression and didn’t even know what was the right thing to pray for. Then the Holy Spirit whispered to pray “Whatever you decide, God, I’ll accept it. But please promise you will be with me in this journey”. In retrospect, God prepared me for this. This was the after-effect of being baptized in the Holy Spirit. I was not afraid to face this deadly disease of BREAST CANCER. God knows what is best. He will work things to His good and for His glory.
My nightly prayers to God is asking him to help me become bolder with my faith, I know that God prepares us for what His plan is. During the small group sharing Bro Conrad heard my testimony. He approached me and said to write my story in sequence and get ready when he calls me. This is what I prayed for. I just hadn’t understood that He will be using Bro Conrad to help me to become bolder. Bro Conrad assigned me as a sharer. He called me in 2002 to deliver my testimony as a sharer in the LSS in Philadelphia and many Life in the Spirit Seminars after that.
Bro Conrad was reassuring and told me to read the bible and infuse some scriptures in my testimony. In 2013 when we arrived from the Philippines after our vacation we retrieved a voice mail from Bro Conrad. The message is for me to develop a talk on GOD’S LOVE and he needed me to deliver it on Saturday in the LSS in South Jersey. I readily called Bro Conrad and tried to persuade him not to put me in the program. He urged me to do it and he believed I could develop the talk in two days. From that LSS forward, I have been assigned to deliver the talk on GOD’S LOVE and end it with my testimony.
Through the years I have become part of the LSS team. I’ve gained a genuine respect and appreciation for other people’s spiritual gifts and natural styles and how we work together in the BODY OF CHRIST. I grasped that people in my team are not wrong just because they see or do things differently than I and that alone helps keep peace in collaborating with others in facilitating a LSS weekend. I allowed myself to enjoy what others do well and let go and let God do when it comes to preparing and attending LSS events. Each member of the team invests time and energy and doing their best. The outcome and method depend(s) upon God’s desire alone. This was all God making everything possible when we work as a TEAM for the Lord.
As I become deeply involved in the charismatic movement my leadership abilities were given a wing. My husband and I became HEAD SERVANTS of the prayer group in the year 2000. We led the group for seven years.
My love for the Scriptures has grown and continues to grow. In 2014 St. Valentine Church was assigned a new pastor. In the early months of 2017 he introduced the Neocatechumenal WAY also known as NEOCATECHUMENATE WAY to the parish. The Way is charism within the Catholic Church dedicated to Christian formation. He invited the parishioners to have a date with God for 8 weeks. After 8 weeks the program continues with weekly meetings. At present, my husband and I are learning more about God’s WORD. We belong to the first community of St. Valentine Church. Every Tuesday night we meet to attend the LITURGY OF THE WORD. God’s word is inspiring, uplifting and full of His UNCONDITIONAL LOVE. My husband and I are hooked and Scripture has been our passion.
After attending my first LIFE IN THE SPIRIT SEMINAR the change in me did not happen instantly. Instead I noticed the gradual change over time. I invited JESUS into my heart and gave my YES and desperately asked Him to show me how He is calling me to serve him.
The answer would begin to unfold slowly but with joy building each step of the way. Looking back, I have come a long way from where I used to be. God made me experience in my life joyful and unhappy events which I am unable to grasp in the beginning. This was from my contraction of POLIO to my struggle to battle BREAST CANCER. These are times of His story. They are God’s stories.
Now I humbly serve in His vineyard when I give testimony of His great LOVE. He uses me to tell HIS story. I am living with my FAITH and becoming bolder with it. Faith is a mystery. It is unthinkable that God loves me perfectly. I have to embrace it and it is what I am as a Christian.
I feel blessed to receive the grace of that “something new” after the LIFE IN THE SPIRIT SEMINAR. With that I’ve made a personal commitment to be His servant by proclaiming GOD’S LOVE NEVER FAILS.
Marlene E. Osma
St. Clare Church, Clifton, NJ
St. Valentine Prayer Group, Bloomfield, NJ
Life in the Spirit Seminar Core Group, KFI Ministry
Council of Elders, KFI ME Ministry
Marriage Encounter Class #9
Family Encounter Class #4