Be fascinated by the life of Brian Welsh as he shares the journey of meeting the superstar and how radically his life changed.
When I was very young, I heard the book of Isaiah being read, “Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?” Immediately, I put up my hand and called out, “Send me”.
I grew up in the country, loving football and fishing. I had a really good Catholic upbringing. After receiving Holy Communion one morning, I felt this fire burning in my heart. As soon as I got home from Mass, I started to leap like a deer, joyfully racing down the hill. An overwhelming sense of God’s Peace and Joy overflowed into a song, “God is burning in my heart. He and I are one.”
As I got older, I lost that innocent sense of God’s presence as I succumbed to temptations. When I was altar serving, it was my responsibility to bring the collection money back to the presbytery, I would say, “A little bit for God and a little bit for Brian”, then pocket some to buy ice cream. As I got older, that habit of stealing strengthened so if anything was left lying around, I had no qualms about taking it when no-one was looking.
My father tried to keep me on the straight and narrow, but I started to rebel against his authority. I felt filled with anger. That spilled over into the way I played football as I became violent and vengeful. After I got knocked out in a tackle, I vowed vengeance against that player. A year passed before I played him again, but I hadn’t forgotten. When he ran the ball my way, I drove my knee into his jaw during the tackle. His jaw shattered, so he had to leave the field and never played football again.
My growing anger disturbed those around me, but when someone expressed their concern, “Brian, you have so much violence in your life, what are you going to do about it?” I snapped back furiously, “You don’t know what you’re talking about.” One night I felt such resentment towards my father that I loaded my rifle, planning to shoot him. But as I turned to leave the room, I was transfixed by an image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. As I gazed into His eyes, I felt the madness lift and I hastily unloaded the rifle.
When my close friend, Andrew died of cancer, it really shocked me. Towards the end, he had asked me, “Who is God?” but I didn’t have any answers because I had forgotten the love that God had for us and lost my personal relationship with Him.
Perhaps a move to the big city would make things better, but instead I spiralled into depression and swiftly lost my job. The emptiness inside was swallowing me up, so I made plans to end it all. Before I could do anything, a friend called around and I spent the night confiding in him about this longing for something more. Nothing could fill that void – no relationship, no experience, nothing that money could buy. It was just a vast pain. I told him, “You could pour all the oceans of the world into my heart and it would still be empty.” For a while, I distracted myself by travelling around Australia, committing petty thefts to support myself, but I still felt empty and aimless.
Finally I turned to God with a prayer – “God I really need your help.” As I cast my eyes back down, I saw a Catholic bookshop. When I entered, I dared to pray again, “God, if there’s a book in this shop that You want me to read – Show me. Brushing past a bookstand, one book tumbled off, so I picked it up and put it back. Next time I passed, it fell off again so I replaced it. When it fell in front of me for the third time, I finally thought, “Perhaps God wants me to read this book.” Turning it over, I tried to make sense of the title – “Fatima in Lucia’s own words”. I was baffled – “What is Fatima and who is Lucia?“
When I took the book home, I read it over and over again. Suddenly, I recalled every detail of everything I had ever done wrong. Filled with sorrow for my sins, I knelt on the floor and cried out to God for His mercy, begging for His forgiveness. I went to Confession with a great list of sins. As soon as the priest said the words of absolution, I felt God’s merciful love flowing into me, banishing the darkness.
There was something more that I needed, but instead of looking for it in the Catholic Church, I went to a Pentecostal church with a friend. During the sermon on God’s love, I heard John 3:16 with fresh ears “God so loved the world, that he gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” That scripture really struck my heart, so when he called people who wanted prayer to come forward, I felt an inner voice urging me up.
When the pastor asked me what I wanted, I didn’t know what to ask for, except God’s love. He asked me if I’d met Jesus, urging me to open my heart to His love and mercy by saying, “Jesus come into my heart. Be my Lord and Saviour.” Because I’d already repented and been to Confession, my heart was ready. So, when I closed my eyes, held onto his hands and prayed with all my heart, the Holy Spirit fell upon me, filling the empty, aching void within me with God’s merciful love.
I reconciled with my father and dealt with the unresolved issues between us. Now that I’m a father myself, I have a better understanding of some of the issues we battled with. Before he died of cancer, we shared a lot of happy memories and wept together about our misunderstandings. His greatest legacy is his love for the poor, who could always count on his kindness and generosity. After he died, I had a dream where I saw him filled with light, complete with his favorite hat.
I stayed with the Pentecostals until they told me not to worship Mary. “I don’t worship Mary. I pray the Rosary.” Although I loved this church, I loved My Heavenly Mother more, so I prayed, “Lord where do you want me?” When I related the saga in Confession, I was told about a Catholic charismatic group nearby. I felt at home there because they loved Mary, they loved the charismatic graces, they loved the traditions of the church and they loved the Eucharist.
My life continued to radically change. I asked the Lord, “What do you want from my life?” I felt a call to become a missionary and was sent to Papua New Guinea. It was great living among the people and seeing so many people being touched by the Holy Spirit.
A priest told me that I was an evangelist. I didn’t know what he meant. So, we stepped out onto the street and he challenged me to go and tell a young man about Jesus. So, I went across and shared the love of Jesus with him. Then he pointed to the pub. “Go in there and share the love of Jesus with the first person you meet.” So, I did just that. “What you did is being an evangelist,” Father said, “Simply sharing the love and mercy of Jesus.” So, for the last 32 years I’ve been going out onto the streets: sitting with junkies; walking into brothels; finding the people who don’t know the love of Jesus and feel so empty and lonely, even suicidal. The people out there need to know Jesus. Even some Catholics who go to church don’t know the love of Jesus.
When I talk to people caught up in homosexuality, their very first question is, “I’m a lesbian, how can God love me? or I’m a transvestite how can God love me?” I tell them, “God loves you the same way He loves me. He doesn’t want to know your sexual identity, He wants to know if you have a heart that loves Him.” The Son of God came to redeem thee people from their sins. He triumphed over my sin by giving me mercy. I experienced the fire of his love and now I’m called to take that love to the world.
As I knelt before the Blessed Sacrament one day, I received an image of Jesus stepping out of the tabernacle, radiant with light. As He approached me, I could feel the fire of His love in my heart. Pointing to His heart, He said, “Take my love to the world.” I promised Him that I would, even if I was the only one, because He came for me. Even if it’s only for one person, it’s worth it. For many years, I went by myself, feeling the presence of God, but more people are joining me, speaking many different languages.
When we’re sharing the Word of God, many people say, “Good on you for being out here,” but some people react very negatively with swearing or demands to stop speaking. My response to that is simply, “God loves you.” We do have a right – a God-given right – to proclaim the truth, not to impose but to propose a new way of living in the mercy of Jesus Christ. Our team has been fortified by the Sacraments, the Word of God and prayer to take his healing power and mercy out to the people who need it so desperately. I usually give out Bibles, Rosaries, pamphlets and holy cards. During this pandemic, I put them in sealed packets and invite people to take them. I’ve set up my ute like a mini-chapel, with an image of the Divine Mercy, as a platform for my evangelization. I drive to a car park, or somewhere like that and talk to the people going by.
The workplace is also a setting where I evangelize. If people are open to it, I give them a Bible or pray with them. Sometimes people’s lives are falling apart or they’ve just gone through a separation, or breakdown of friendship. If they share this with me, I share the love of Jesus with them, because His friendship is a lasting friendship. As a gardener, I try to make their garden so beautiful that they can feel the presence of God in the tranquillity of their homes.
No matter what addiction you are afflicted with – alcohol, drugs, sex, nicotine, social media, screen … turn to Jesus, take up the power of the Rosary and meditation on the Gospel. One day He’ll say to you, you don’t need it and you’ll be free.
Make sure that you are following the right star. Film stars, sporting stars, TV stars and social media stars are all vying for our attention. Are you being guided by the right star? The true star leads us to Jesus Christ the Lord and Saviour, the healer of the human heart and the uniter of all nations. The Morning Star, Mary led me to Him. I was living in darkness, despair and hopelessness until she led me to experience the mighty love of God.
Now, I live my life for Him – in the family, in my workplace, in my social life. Wherever I go, I live my life in His presence, carrying His light into the world to dispel the darkness. My wife and children reflect His light back to me, healing and strengthening me. We live for Him and rejoice in sharing the very best thing we have – our love for Jesus.
©Brian Welsh is a Catholic street evangelist in Australia, who has shared the love of Jesus all over the world. He is happily married to Leanne and they are blessed with two beautiful children. This article is largely based on the Shalom World TV program Jesus My Savior https://www.shalomworld.org/episode/brian-welsh
Did you know you have an ever-present father? Read on if you are longing for his love. When you turn back Sixteen years ago I was facilitating a catechist class at Folsom Prison, a maximum security prison in California, preparing some of the inmates for Confirmation. An inmate named Juan, was telling his story. He shared that his biological father had abandoned his family when he was an infant and that his stepfather was aloof and abusive. In so many words, he said that his connectedness to a father of any kind was “messed up”. That might be the reason, he said, why he is drawn to his childhood faith--he is still seeking his father. I said, “Juan, God IS your Father and Jesus invites you to call him ‘Abba’.” “What does ‘Abba’ mean?” he asked. “It means ‘Dad’, ‘Papa.’ Jesus gives you permission to call God ‘Papa’,” I said. With tears welling in his eyes, Juan slowly and reverently recited the Our Father. He said it with such power and conviction that it seemed like he was saying it for the first time. The simplicity of the Lord’s Prayer and our own familiarity with it can mask what a phenomenal breakthrough it was in the history of religion. Jesus doesn’t address God as ‘Judge,’ or ‘Omniscient One,’ or ‘Great Power in the Sky’, or some other title that that would point to God’s transcendence. Instead, Jesus calls God ‘Father’ which evokes a sense of familiarity, reminding us how a child turns towards his or her father, trusting that they are loved by him. Filling the void If some experience their fathers as absent, judgmental, or harsh, it is possible they may project these qualities onto God. If they have grown to expect little of their fathers, they may also expect little or nothing of God. If their father was generally non-communicative, they may project that onto God. But Jesus taught us to call God “Abba” which means “my father” and evokes a sense of intimacy, of warmth, safety, and love. Such an understanding of God as loving parent can be found in the prophet Hosea, who captures this intimate Father-child relationship that Jesus invites us to: When Israel was a child, I loved him, out of Egypt I called my son. The more I called them, the farther they went from me, sacrificing to the Baals and burning incense to idols. Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk, who took them in my arms; I drew them with human cords, With bands of love; I fostered them like one who raises an infant to his cheeks. (Hosea 11:1-4). What a tender image of our loving God as one “who raises an infant to his cheeks.” That’s the image that melted the heart of a prisoner named Juan and filled his eyes with tears. Many people go through life seeking their father. But Jesus tells us we have a father who loves us more than any earthly parent ever could. We simply have to come before him and with the simplicity of childhood say, “Abba!” Heavenly Father I surrender myself completely into Your hands just like a child, and I trust in Your Divine providence. Each day let me feel those invisible bands of love which draw me close to You. Amen.
In 1926, as the Cristero war began, Mexicans had suffered religious persecution for many years. Churches were confiscated and closed. Religious education and gatherings were banned. Religious and priests were forced into hiding. One night, plainclothes policemen staked out a home where they suspected people were gathering to receive Communion. A man approached and quickly flipped the lapel of his suit jacket, as if to show a lieutenant’s badge. “What’s going on?” he asked. “We think a priest is inside,” they replied. “Wait here while I check,” he commanded. They kept watch as he went in to boldly distribute Holy Communion to the faithful waiting inside. Father Miguel Pro was famous for his impersonations. Using a variety of clever disguises, and often in the dead of night, he bravely ventured out to baptize infants, bless marriages, celebrate Mass, hear confessions, anoint the sick and distribute Holy Communion. On more than one occasion, he penetrated a jail disguised as a police officer to bring Holy Viaticum to Catholics awaiting execution. Dressed as a stylish businessman, he even frequented the neighbourhoods of his greatest enemies to collect for the poor. Arm in arm with a young lady, or dressed in the rags of a beggar, he cheerfully brought spiritual and material relief to beleaguered Mexican Catholics at the risk of his life. Renowned for his ready wit, he laughed in the face of death, “If I meet any long-faced saints in Heaven, I will cheer them up with a Mexican hat dance.” After little more than a year of this clandestine ministry, his enemies were desperate to eradicate his influence. Falsely accusing him of an assassination attempt, he was sentenced to death without trial, immediately after capture. President Calles invited world media to witness his execution, expecting Father Pro to break down and deny his faith in front of the firing squad. Instead their photos captured him peacefully forgiving and praying for his executioners, refusing a blindfold and welcoming the bullets with arms outstretched in the form of a cross, shouting, “Viva Cristo Rey!” (Long Live Christ the King!)
Want to be the best version of you? Take the first step! Missing Link My testimony is not about a powerful conversion, a life changing moment or a miraculous healing. It is a journey of small steps—a journey where I continually stumbled and fell, but God always picked me up and walked with me. I was born and raised Catholic. However, as many people could attest, this does not always amount to much. I participated in the Sacraments and went to Church regularly, but a personal relationship with Jesus was lacking. During my university life, whenever I encountered difficulties, I turned to God for comfort. He was always there for me, but I was not always there for Him. I put God in a compartment and I turned to Him only when I needed. He was certainly a part of my life, since I continued to go to Church on Sundays and pray frequently, but He was not central to my life. My own interests and desires were at the forefront of my mind. I never really paused to think about God’s will. Six months before graduation, my whole world turned upside down. I went through a really deep depression and for a long time, there was only darkness. The despair and hopelessness I felt is hard to convey in words, but I think that many of you reading this will have felt it at some point. When it happens, we go one way or another. We run towards God seeking refuge in Him or run away from Him in anger. Sadly, I chose the latter. I could not understand why God would put me through something so horrific if He loved me. For the best part of a year, I completely isolated myself. I stopped attending Church. I stopped going anywhere at all. I was caught up in feelings of shame and worthlessness. Thoughts like ‘you’re a burden’ and ‘everyone would be so much better off without you’ constantly invaded my head. My mind was like a prison that I just could not escape from. Thankfully, that was not the end of my story. One of my favorite Bible verses is Romans 8:28. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to his purpose”. This reassures us that, whatever may happen in our lives, God will work it out for our good. It also lovingly reminds us that we have been chosen by Him and we have a purpose through Him. This became evident in my life when I slowly returned to the faith with the help of various people and incidents that God surely orchestrated. Baby Steps This time, it was different. I attended daily Mass and retreats as I truly sought God’s love. However, my mental health struggles kept recurring. There was not any progression or recovery, so my future looked bleak. I was fed up with life constantly. The hope and peace Jesus promised seemed far away. As I said before, there was not a magical moment when things turned around for me as I would have liked. I had to wait for God’s timing. Nevertheless, some small steps helped me progress to a more positive state. My family is my biggest blessing. They have stood by me through the darkest times and I am truly grateful to God for them. About two years ago, we started reading the Bible for thirty minutes daily—something we continue to do. Even though it can be arduous, especially when delving into some of the Old Testament, it is definitely worth persevering. When we appreciate that the Bible is the living Word of God, we realize that there is an answer in there for everything. “Satan’s target is your mind and his weapons are lies. So fill your mind with the Word of God”—Greg Locke. This quote emphasizes how the devil uses lies against us as weapons. My struggles were mainly with my mind and I felt trapped. I wrestled with many sins that kept coming up again and again. The devil told me that I was unloved, broken and worthless when in actual fact, I am a child of God, who is infinitely loved. These are a few affirmations that the Word of God gives each of us: “I am God’s workmanship, created in Christ to do good works that He has prepared for me to do.” (Ephesians 2:10) “The Spirit of God, who is greater than the enemy in the world, lives in me.” (1 John 4:4) “I am chosen by God who called me out of the darkness of sin and into the light and life of Christ so I can proclaim the excellence and greatness of who He is.” (1 Peter 2:9) Flawless Love One of my favorite things about the Catholic faith is the Sacrament of Penance (Reconciliation). Being able to run to Confession and pour out my heart to Jesus has been immensely valuable. Receiving His forgiveness frees us from the guilt and shame which the devil condemns us to. The Holy Spirit helps us realize when we are on the wrong path, needing to repent and turn back to God. As long as we do this, there is nothing to worry about, although we may have to do it over and over again. The further we have strayed from God, the more He rejoices when we come back, just as the father celebrated when the prodigal son returned. This took me a while to realize and I still have not grasped it fully; I do not need to do anything at all to earn God’s love. It is an unconditional gift that He pours out on us. His love is not dependent on me or my flawed self. It is dependent on His nature which is all loving and merciful. Even through my darkest times and yours, this love gives us hope. In the book of the prophet Hosea, God proclaims that He will “transform the Valley of Trouble into a Gateway of Hope” (Hosea 2:15). This beautifully portrays what happened in my life. Through His love, God transformed my troubles into an opportunity to have hope and share that hope with you. Step by Step In hindsight, my pain led me to ultimately get closer to God. He is the only one who has truly been there for me through everything. He is not only the majestic, all powerful God, He is my comforter and friend. I have learned to be more accepting of God’s will and His timing. My life definitely didn’t pan out the way I planned, but that is not a bad thing because God’s ways are higher than my ways. “’For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways’, declares the LORD. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.’” (Isaiah 55:8-9) Many small factors contributed over time to increasing my faith. It led me to a deeper appreciation and understanding of God. I also truly believe that the power of prayer has helped me survive life’s many challenges. I humbly request that you keep me in your prayers and that we all adopt a mentality of praying for each other. As my testimony shows, we do not necessarily have to do ‘big’ things to get closer to God. Small steps are all it takes. I hope you are able to take a small step towards God today. He is waiting lovingly with open arms. Dear God, I firmly believe and hope in You. Each day I rise up to take one more step closer to You. All I ask is for the grace to know You and love You. Let me be enfolded in Your loving arms. Amen
On August 18, 1996, when Mass concluded in the Church of Santa Maria y Caballito Almagro, a woman reported that a consecrated Host had been abandoned on a dusty candle holder at the back of the Church. Since it was not in a fit condition to be consumed, the priest followed normal protocols by placing the Host in water and storing it in the tabernacle. The following Monday, when the tabernacle was opened, the Host appeared to be suffused with a bloody substance. This was reported to Bishop Jorge Bergoglio (the future Pope Francis, at that time auxiliary bishop and soon to be archbishop of Buenos Aires). The Host was then moved to a secure location where the appearance of the Host continued to change until it was flesh alone. Archbishop Bergoglio led an investigation into the miracle after the host-turned-bloody was miraculously preserved for several years. On October 5, 1999, in the presence of the Archbishop’s representatives, a scientist took a sample of the fragment and sent it to New York for analysis. The origin of the sample was not revealed to the scientists. Dr. Frederic Zugiba, a well-known cardiologist and forensic pathologist, determined that the analyzed substance was real flesh and blood containing human DNA taken from the heart of a living person who had been tortured. He testified that “the analyzed material is a fragment of the heart muscle which is responsible for the contraction of the heart. The heart muscle is in an inflammatory condition and contains a large number of white blood cells. This indicates that the heart was alive at the time the sample was taken. It is my contention that the heart was alive, since white blood cells die outside a living organism. Thus, their presence indicates that the heart was alive when the sample was taken. What is more, these white blood cells had penetrated the tissue, which further indicates that the heart had been under severe stress, as if the owner had been beaten severely about the chest.”
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