I will try to share with you something of God’s call in my life.
How I heard God’s call, how I responded and how I continue to respond every day in the daily events of my life.
My name is Mia. I am a Missionary Sister of Our Lady of Africa and I am from Ghent, Belgium. Here are some signs to help discern a call to a religious missionary vocation:
Listen to testimonials:
Since I was very young, in primary school, I loved listening to the testimony of the missionary sisters who came to speak in our classrooms during their home-leave in Belgium. I thought to myself: When I grow up, I want to be like them, go to Africa, especially where people do not yet know God. I also loved watching on TV reports and documentaries about Africa.
Listen to the Word of God:
When I was young, I realized that there were some words of the Bible that spoke to me a lot and challenged me every time I heard them, “You will be my witnesses to the ends of the earth” (Acts), or the sending words of Jesus at the end of the Gospel: “Go into the whole world, to all nations and make disciples;” or the words of God to Abraham: “Leave your country and go to the land I will show you.” (Genesis). Whenever I came across these words, they warmed my heart and gave me great joy.
Participate in a special spiritual event:
When I was 15, I had the opportunity to participate in a pilgrimage of young people at Lourdes in France. Each day of the pilgrimage had its own theme and the last day was focused on the sending.We had all written a message on a small card which we attached to balloons of all colors.
At the end of the sending ceremony, we let go of our balloons and together we sang:”Send forth your messengers, O Lord to all lands, send forth your messengers to sing of your glory!”
Discerning interior movements of joy, of doubt:
At that time, I felt deep in my heart that this is what I had to do: go to the whole world to announce the good news of the Gospel to those who do not yet know it. I continued my studies in high school and at university. I loved the Church, prayer, the Word of God, nature … I felt in me this desire to be a missionary, but at the same time I also wanted to get married and start a family … The dream of every girl …
After my graduation, I immediately found work as a French teacher in high school. I liked this work, but at the same time I felt some dissatisfaction. I had a friend at school who shared how she had gone to the Congo for a year to work as a volunteer.
Exchange with others:
This sharing with her increased in my heart even more my desire to be a missionary in Africa and I thought: It’s now or never that I can achieve my childhood dream. I went back to the school where I got to know about missionaries.
The sister who welcomed me asked me the following question: “Why do you want to go to Africa?” “I answered “God makes me so happy that I would like to make him known to those who do not know him.” I was amazed at my own answer, but having verbalized my deepest desire like this helped me find my way in life.
Listening to one’s deepest desire:
At the same time, I also made another experience that is hard to describe: I felt very much loved by God personally and deeply.
At this point I asked myself, “How can I still want to marry? I felt in me the desire to respond to this overwhelming love of God for me!
Gradually, it became clear to me that my life would be a life consecrated to God and at the service of the mission in Africa. Not that I had no fears or questions! No, I was wondering if I would be able to support life in Africa; might I be mistaken; would it be better to get married anyway …
At the same time I felt ready to make the step and I did it. And every experience I lived from then on, in community with other sisters, in my prayer life and activities with the people, was for me a confirmation that I was on the right path, I had made a good choice that made me happy.
Rereading one’s life:
This is how I responded to God’s call in my life. Rereading my life since my childhood, I see many small calls that God has made in the events which form like a golden thread until I realized more precisely to what God was calling me.
Every day I tried and I always try to respond to him: In Rwanda, Burkina Faso, Tunisia and Mauritania and through many different activities: French classes, catechesis, promotion of women, Library, at the chaplaincy for university students.
And to you who read these words: I hope you will listen in the depth of your heart, to God’s call deep within yourself and have the courage to respond to his personal call for you! It is worth it!
Vocation and discernment: contacts and addresses for every country