May 09, 2019 653 0 Sister Jane M. Abeln SMIC

A Life Beyond My Dreams


As I walked through my new neighborhood in Paterson, I wondered where I could find a Christian bookstore. From a truck, a man called out, “Would you like to find a Christian bookstore?” I was amazed that God would answer me so promptly! The owner of the shop assured me “The Cross and the Switchblade” would be a fine gift for the student in my fiction course, so I bought it.

Reading the book before wrapping it, I was mesmerized by the author’s midnight prayer experience. He was haunted by the “TIME” magazine cover picturing six young drug addicts on their way to trial. Several times he clearly heard the Lord urging in his heart “Go to New York City.”

This minister got in his car and drove hundreds of miles. With Bible in hand, he tracked down the addicts and told them that Jesus could save them. He spoke not as a professional doctor or teacher, but only with the power and love of the Holy Spirit. Some addicts accepted Jesus and were delivered from drugs—thus opening an extensive ministry to them and others.

As I finished the book at 2 am, I felt wrung through my own conversion, guilty because I knew Jesus was real but had done little to share this treasure. I had even neglected to pray deeply and said “no” to a request that had left me depressed the entire year.

After 10 years as a Sister, how few people I had evangelized! The spirit our pioneer Sister-missionaries had, in the 1960s, succumbed to a popular phobia against “fanatic behavior.” People say, “Don’t talk about Jesus, just show Him through your teaching.” These new ways did not seem to work for me. When I returned to buy more copies of the book, the owner told me, “There’s a Catholic group in Rutherford that holds prayer meetings every Thursday evening.”


Though I yearned to run off to Rutherford, I had obligations with our college’s girls’ basketball team. Instead, I devoured books on this phenomenon called Charismatic Renewal. It was what I had been seeking all my life. I became an instant convert. I learned more deeply on how to help people have a personal relationship with Jesus. I was surprised about people receiving spiritual gifts as the apostles had in the Bible’s Book of Acts, especially moved that ordinary people could speak words of convicting prophecy, pray immediately and anywhere for the Lord to heal people, and use a prayer-language called “tongues.” Some of our Sisters returned from prayer meetings with true miracle stories, “Young men stand and tell how

Jesus totally changed them.” “They talk about scripture like priests.” I finally got to these prayer meetings and saw for myself the great things about which I had heard. I truly could say “I want the power to share Jesus and His love. I want Him to baptize me in His Holy Spirit.” After I was prayed over, the Spirit who had first come to me in my baptism, who renewed me in my confirmation, now took over my life. At one meeting, I felt a queasy “prompting” to divulge my early story I had been unable to open even to sisters. I promised, “Jesus, I will tell my story if I hear the word, rescue, since that’s what I thank You for every day.” A girl with a small Bible began to read Psalm 17 and three times I heard my fleece-word. My voice shook but grew steadier as I described my agonized search through supposed sins, fears and missteps. “Although I have known Jesus since my childhood, and I felt His Love burning in my heart, I could not communicate how much I love Him and how others could also find Him. In the Charismatic Renewal, I learned to really hear the Holy Spirit in my heart and what the Spirit calls me to do.”

Life in the Spirit!

While I had many things to work through, I knew the Holy Spirit in me was the most true gift I had, that He would lead me and that He had many gifts to assist me. He put the inner and outer me together. He showed me how to share Jesus and to evangelize wherever I was. He gave me the courage to say “Yes” to two foreign mission calls among the Chinese. He led me to find support systems with other charismatics during decades of ups and downs in the church, the world and in my various ministries. For the past six years. I have shared with a diocesan service team giving “Life in the Spirit” seminars. I am only one of millions of people throughout the world who has come into this great charismatic renewal.

I praise God for His grace beyond anything I could have imagined.

Sister Jane M. Abeln SMIC

© has been a Missionary Sister of the Immaculate Conception for 59 years and in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal for 48 years. She taught English and religion in the United States, Taiwan and the Philippines and has various spiritual ministries.


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