By Leigh Germanis
I first heard of Called and Gifted through Catholic friends at the ministry where I work, the Women’s Choice Center in Bettendorf. I had taken spiritual gifts classes before through various Protestant churches I attended over the years. But nothing approached the depth of exploration, or the empowerment, offered by Called and Gifted.
Early in the process of the 10-week class, we took a test that provided an initial assessment of our charisms. These are the gifts God grants us for the benefit of others.
But the program doesn’t stop there. Students are then challenged to discern whether their scores were accurate. I decided to test the charism of “helps,” but felt confident enough about my high scores for “intercessory prayer” that I hadn’t planned to test that one. Some who knew me as a kid would find that funny. At the weddings and funerals I attended as a child, I recall feeling like an alien amidst rituals I didn’t understand. Since becoming a Christ-follower as an adult, God has grown in me a desire to seek out and pray for the needs of others. A few years ago, during a lemonade stand my young daughter and I held in our neighborhood, our sign read, “Lemonade 25 cents. Prayers FREE.” More people than not took us up on the offer, eager for God’s help in their lives, or perhaps just curious.
I have the opportunity to pray daily in my current role at the Women’s Choice Center. It’s one of the things I most enjoy about my job. Whether it’s praying with a heavily tattooed and pierced parent who wears the hurts of the world like a coat of armor, or a frightened 20-something woman whose boyfriend has convinced her she needs an abortion, God helps me to hear their needs and gives me the words to help them to feel heard, understood and loved by their Creator.
In the midst of my discernment process, I met a woman named Lorette Rogers from Belvidere, Ill., at the LeClaire McDonald’s. She was sitting behind the wheel of her car, squinting at a map and had apparently lost her way. I invited her inside for a cup of coffee and offered to help. She was meeting her son at a half-way point on their way to Omaha for a grandson’s baseball tournament. She had gotten off track and was trying to find her way back. I offered to let her park in front of my house so that she could meet her son there. She followed me home where we called her son to give him directions. In the 10 minutes or so before he arrived, I asked if she would let me pray with her. We did. Afterwards, she told me she had fallen away from the Catholic Church for 30 years while married, but since her husband’s death, had gone back to the Church of her youth. She told me our prayer moved her deeply. The following week, I received this thank you note:
“Surely God brought us together last week when I met you and your daughter at McDonald’s in LeClaire. You and your family will remain in my prayers for the remainder of my years. Keep up the good work of the Lord.” — Lorette
I cherish Lorette’s note of affirmation. I recently reconnected with Lorette, and discovered that she, too, is likely to be among the churchgoing population gifted with the charism of intercessory prayer. Lorette regularly visits nursing homes and encourages seniors to develop their prayer life, as this is one capacity that doesn’t diminish with age.
Had it not been for Called and Gifted, I would likely never had the boldness to pray with Lorette, and our chance encounter would have ended when she picked up her car. As it turns out, I met a wonderful new friend and fellow intercessor. I encourage any individual, Catholic or Protestant, who is seeking to focus their efforts on their strengths, to discover Called and Gifted. Those who do are in for a wonderful journey of self-discovery and empowerment through the Holy Spirit.
(For information about beginning a Called and Gifted program in your parish, please contact Nikki Gartner at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (563) 370-3360.)
(Leigh Germanis is development director at the Women’s Choice Center in Bettendorf.)