By Megan Taljaard I moved to Cape Town in 2009 to study at UCT and found myself in the most incredible family of a charismatic church. The people in this beautiful church love God and taught me so much about community and faith. This church blessed me with the most incredible friends and, most importantly, was the vessel through which God brought my husband, Pierre, and I together. I am eternally grateful for everything this church did for me and for my relationship with God. Pierre and I started dating in 2010 and soon after this, Pierre told me that, for various reasons, he was exploring the Catholic Church. I immediately told Pierre that if he decided to become Catholic, I would break up with him – not to spite his decision but just because I knew that I would never marry someone who goes to a different church and does not hold the same beliefs as me. Even though I never doubted Pierre’s love for and faith in God, I knew that there were some fundamental differences between the Catholic Church’s beliefs and my understanding of God and His church at that time. When Pierre finally made the decision to leave our church and start attending mass at the local Catholic Church, I had the most surprising peace about his decision, even though it could have meant that I would not end up marrying this man who I was absolutely in love with. I just knew in my heart that he was following his convictions and he was being obedient to God calling him to the Catholic Church. For him, he had no other option. God had opened Pierre’s eyes to an inconvenient truth that he could not run from. Pierre had to say goodbye to the church he loved and had served in for about six years. I could not let the love of my life go so easily – I had to investigate for myself what he was getting himself into. Needless to say, I found truth and I found peace. I started attending some Catholic Church services and started the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) course to learn more about the beliefs of the Catholic Church. I am incredibly grateful for being faced with challenges such as this pivotal one, in my walk with God. The scary reality is that the misconceptions I once had I now see as truth. Through this journey, I experienced a deeper desire for my life to be one of obedience to God and full of humility. I started becoming more aware that I can never take my walk with God too seriously. I came to realise that God sees my heart and it is only Him that matters. I could no longer worry about people’s inconsistent opinions, feelings and thoughts. I have come to learn new things and be challenged in ways that have led me to discover what I believe to be truth that I cannot ignore. Below are some of the main things that I had been challenged on and where God was working most in my heart. Contraception: This is a topic that I never thought I would be able to come to terms with but now probably feel most strongly about. I am yet to find one plausible moral justification for the use of contraceptives. I love the freedom I feel in knowing that God is even in control of my fertility and I think it is an awesome, constant reminder of what God intended marriage for. I don’t think anyone can argue that natural family planning would not please God. (Genesis 38:8-10 is an interesting passage of scripture to read regarding this). Authority: This is what the Catholic Church believes has been passed on for thousands of years. I love that I do not have to rely on my own lack of wisdom to try make out what I believe to be truth and not. I would prefer to have faith to believe what Jesus said is truth and that he has passed on to His apostles, who have continued to pass it down the generations. I have come to believe that the Holy Spirit has the power to protect the truth in these beliefs, just as he has protected the Bible through the years. I admire that the Catholic Church holds to one interpretation of apostolic teaching and scripture. Scriptural authority: Preachers today are seen as role models and leaders, thus their words are often seen to be absolute truth. How then can we ignore the writings of the people who knew the apostles personally and not take into account their interpretation of scripture? Faith and works working together: James 2:17 says, “So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” There are countless other pieces of scripture to back this up. The bottom line is that if we love God and want to be obedient to him, we will want to do so much good for Him. With my very little knowledge on the controversy related to this issue, I personally believe that whether our salvation depends on works or not seems to be a topic irrelevant of debate and is actually turning our salvation into the mindset of how little we can do and still be saved. Can we simply say that we give our lives to God and then live as we please? We do not want to be lukewarm (Revelations 3:16) for our God who has blessed us with so much grace of which we are so unworthy. Living a life of good works is the least we can do. From the fruits of many Protestant Churches it surprises me that they do not believe that faith and works go hand-in-hand, because that is certainly how most of them live. It just seems so obvious that all Christians should believe this. We are called to lose our lives for Christ’s sake, and then we will find true and eternal life (Matt 10:39; Mark 8:35; Luke 9:24; John 12:25) Catholics worship and adore God alone: they venerate Mary and other saints. This means that they hold them in high regard and acknowledge and respect the amazing things God used them for. I do not see how these people, Mary in particular, are hardly ever heard of in some churches considering how amazing they are and what awesome examples they are to us. There is so much that we can learn from how they lived their lives, just like we learn from the amazing people of God who are still living today. If miracles happen through people praying through the saints to God, who am I to interfere or protest? Why am I not joining them? Communion: I do not know how I will be able to account to God for being part of a Church that does not take Communion as seriously as I believe Jesus commanded us to. John 6:47-58: “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh…. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” 1 Corinthians 11:27-30: “So anyone who eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord unworthily is guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. That is why you should examine yourself before eating the bread and drinking the cup. For if you eat the bread or drink the cup without honouring the body of Christ, you are eating and drinking God’s judgment upon yourself. That is why many of you are weak and sick and some have even died.” There is no possible way I will ever be able to completely know and comprehend the hugeness of what God has intended for his Church, the pillar and foundation of truth (1 Tim 3:15). But I do know that I would love to worship God in as much truth as I possibly can. I do not believe that separation is good and my heart longs for unity in God’s bride. My prior hardness towards the Catholic Church has proved my ignorance and judgmental heart. I acknowledge that am just a sinful person who does not have the capacity to know as much as I really should in order to claim that I am absolutely certain that I am right. However, I would not have been living in God’s peace if I did not act on what I personally believe to be true (James 4:17: “Remember, it is a sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.”) It brings me so much happiness to know that even if I have nothing, God will provide and care for me and even if the world despises me, God will still love me. I will always do my best to follow God’s peace and pray that it will lead me home to Him. I cannot wait to meet my heavenly Father in Heaven. But while I am on earth, I want to do my best to live a humble and obedient life worthy of His calling. About the Author Megan Taljaard I grew up in Natal and moved to Cape Town in 2009 to study Economics and Psychology at UCT. I fell in love with the man of my dreams in 2010 and we got married two years later. I thrive on the blessings of friends and family. I miss my friends and family in Durban and Johannesburg dearly but Cape Town is home for now. I tutor primary school children during my afternoons and run a tutoring agency in my mornings. I love walking, running, playing tennis, spending time with friends and family and baking.