Every Tribe, Every Tongue
Pamela Catalan lost her mother at a young age, and it made her seriously question the goodness of God. Over the years, His grace helped her understand what she didn’t before. While in her first year in university in Mexico, a missionary told her about Emmaus Bible College in the US. She signed up to study there for a year — but ended up staying for four, as God put an interest for missions in her heart. After college, she returned to Mexico and served with her local church for seven years — a time of waiting during which God helped to shape her before He called her to Spain.
Tell us about how you came to know the Lord.
I was born into a Christian family. I remember enjoying going to church and listening to the Bible stories in Sunday school, but it wasn’t until I was 10 years old that I understood the message of the gospel. I received Christ as my Saviour at a church conference when the preacher shared the Gospel. Two years later, my mom passed away and some trials in the following years made me question God’s goodness. I was mad at Him. At the age of 16, however, I understood that though I didn’t understand everything that had happened, He had never left my side and that I needed Him in my life.
What are some practical things we can do when we struggle with trusting in God’s goodness?
I’d say the main thing is to keep going back to His Word and all the promises we can find there. I had a hard time accepting things and seeing all those trials as something God intended for good (looking back now, I can see how He used them to draw me closer to Him), but I still knew His Word was true; therefore, what it said about God and His promises must be true as well. I had to believe that my situation back then (and now) was God’s best for me, and me believing otherwise meant I thought I knew better. So, go back to the Word and hold on to those promises.
I had a hard time accepting things and seeing all those trials as something God intended for good
Tell us about your ministry and the people you minister to.
My time is spent discipling and mentoring women and that looks very different with each one of them: it could mean a Bible study, running errands with them, helping with their kids, going out for coffee and listening to them, having them over and praying with them etc.
I meet up with a small women’s group twice a month. We’re currently studying the women in the Bible. The women often invite their friends or neighbours and it’s neat to see how they feel welcome and comfortable enough to share their struggles.
Also, as a couple, my husband and I host a small group every other week and try to be intentional, as we have people over for a meal or coffee. Most of the entertaining here is done at coffee shops or restaurants, so we want to use our home to bless other people.
What were some of the biggest adjustments you had to make when you started living in your field of service?
One of the hardest things for me was adjusting to the “loudness” of the culture. People are loud and passionate, and what you might think are two people arguing could very well be two people having a normal conversation! I come from a culture that is not direct at all to a culture that is very direct; it took me a while to get used to that.
What were some of your biggest challenges during the past year?
I’d say one of the biggest challenges last year was getting adjusted to being married. I was single until I was 36. The change was good and it’s been a blessing, but it was an adjustment! I also struggled with some health issues, and had a hard time surrendering those fears and concerns to God.
Looking back on your single years, what counsel would you give our readers who are experiencing a season of singleness?
As I said, I had to believe that His best for me then was being single, and thinking otherwise meant I thought my plans were way better than His. It took a while to learn this lesson! It was hard to see friends getting married and having children. I had to admit that I wasn’t content and, in a way, I was placing the source of my contentment in a status more than in who I was in God.
Once I accepted that being single was God’s best and learnt contentment in that situation, my whole attitude changed. My status didn’t define me. I still had difficult days or seasons, but seeking Him made all the difference and changed my perspective. I was able to use my single years to serve Him in ways a married person couldn’t and, as I look back, I can say I really enjoyed my single years!
Once I accepted that being single was God’s best and learnt contentment in that situation, my whole attitude changed. My status didn’t define me
One more word of advice: find a community, with both single and married people. We need each other.
What are some of your biggest victories from the past year?
I tend to be more guarded and seek self-protection, keeping things to myself. God has been using my husband to confront me in that area and I have seen how sharing about my struggles can help others to open up as well.
What advice can you give the newly married or engaged, with regard to preparing for the changes that will come from such a transition?
A big blessing for me was having older women to mentor and counsel me as I was preparing for marriage, as I was about to enter unknown territory. So, find women who can speak into your life and walk with you as you prepare for this journey.
When talking to a friend about the challenges of a cross-cultural marriage, she told me that marriage is like going overseas; it’s as if you’re learning a different culture, so give each other grace as you get adjusted to your new life. As most people say, communication is key!
I got married later in life and was used to being on my own and doing things my way, and that also meant how much I communicated. So, I had to learn to talk things out instead of keeping things to myself, and to remember it wasn’t just me anymore. Give each other grace — you’re both learning to share your lives with each other!
What are some of your big goals and desires for your future ministry?
I would love to see more unity among the women in the church. It is my desire to see them grow and take younger women under their wings to disciple and mentor them.
How can we pray for you?
We’re expecting our first baby in March next year, and would appreciate your prayers for the rest of the pregnancy as well as for the big transition coming up. Also, pray for the women here: for their spiritual growth and that they’ll use their gifts as well. Some of them have unbelieving husbands; so, pray for their salvation and that the women will be a testimony in their homes.
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