WYD Lisbon 2023 (day 3): from a lost sheep wounded by his father to meet Jesus. The testimony of an American before the Pope and thousands of young people

From his parents’ divorce and a depression to his encounter with Jesus and a Catholic marriage.

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(ZENIT News / Lisbon, 08.04.2023).- His name is Caleb, he is American and he is 29 years old. On the afternoon of Friday, August 4, he offered his testimony at the ninth station of the Stations of the Cross for young people with the Pope in Lisbon. It is an inspiring and transforming testimony of what God’s grace does in people’s lives. We offer it below:


There are times when I think back to my younger days and I feel a deep pain, and yet, at the same  time, a great joy. The reality of my life is that I am one of the lost sheep that Jesus came running after. I grew up in a very broken household with a father who didn’t realize his worth or identity in Christ  and was severely broken. As a result of his wounds, he wounded others. One of my escapes from home life  was being at church. It always felt as if it was my home away from home. I was raised in various different  Christian traditions but I always had a desire within my soul for more. I wanted that encounter with Jesus  that everyone around me had but I had yet to experience myself. Little did I know that all that time, He was  right by my side.

Approaching my high school graduation, my parents went through a horrendous divorce and my  world spiraled out of control. I sank deep into depression, I struggled with self harm, became a drug addict,  and had a desire to end my life. I let my pain lead me to embracing my selfish desires. Everything I had  known was gone, and I had no sense of direction. My head was in such a dark place from all the pain, and I searched for a reason to live. The Lord heard my cries from the pit, and sent me the most beautiful gift.  One who would eventually become my bride.

Once I met my wife, I found a reason to live and a desire to grow in my faith. I wanted the passion  she had for Jesus but battling with the ghosts of my past, it always felt unattainable. After dating for a while, we separated for a time, and I was faced with a choice to make. I could  either allow Jesus to fully take control of my life or fall back into my old habits. By His grace, I pressed  on. As I apprenticed in a tattoo shop, I saw the pain of those forgotten by society, and it was there I truly  saw Jesus for who He was.

After much healing, my wife and I got back together and got married. We became heavily involved  in our church, and I was tasked with passing on the faith to the students but I realized I didn’t understand  the fullness of the faith. I started researching the early church in both biblical and historical resources. To  make a long story short, it was the message of John 6, Jesus in the Eucharist, that brought me home into  full communion with the Catholic Church. As I reflect, I have realized that the father wound that I’ve had  has caused me to have an identity crisis, but after embracing the identity that my Heavenly Father has given  me, the wounds I have had have finally started to heal. Being united fully to Jesus in the Eucharist is what  has brought healing to my soul. After tasting all that this world has to offer, He is the only one who has  truly satisfied me.

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