While returning home after a book tour of her final memoirs, God stepped in to send her on a new adventure. Leona set out to study the Catholic Church to convince a friend who had become Catholic that she was in serious error and needed to return to her evangelical roots. Love for her friend's soul motivated her to dig into Catholic teaching - in order to refute false teaching and win back her friend.
As with Sarah and Elizabeth, God was about to do a new work. An almost impossible thing. God was about to reveal to Leona - at the age of 80 - that there was more to the Catholic Church than she had ever imagined. While she expected to discover a mountain of error, she discovered a land of Truth and Beauty.
God was about to show her the land of More.
As Leona studied Catholic teaching in order to tear it to pieces and save her friend from heresy... an amazing thing began to happen. It was Leona who became convinced that she had found - not an apostate church - but the Church that Jesus Christ HIMSELF founded.
"I hereby surrender to Truth, to the Church which Jesus established as His Body, His Bride...I surrender my past misunderstandings...I embrace Jesus wholly in His Church" (136).
After four years of study and painstaking research, on the threshold of her 80th birthday, Leona was received into the Catholic Church. "I wanted to seize the moment and hold it fast....It was not merely a symbol; it was the real presence of Jesus Christ. I partook of His very Body and Blood (John 6)" (146 Choy).
After a lifetime spent as a happy, contented evangelical, God called Leona to a journey of great faith and discovery.
What would happen to her friends? What would she do with all those books that chronicled life as an evangelical? Would anyone listen to her or would everyone think she had gone a little crazy?
Would she still have a story to tell? Or would she be put on a shelf, to be forgotten by those who just couldn't go there.
What did God have for a woman whose life was nearly spent? Why in the world would He call her to this path?
When I think of Leona, I think of Sarah and Elizabeth. When they began to feel those first flutters of life within their once-barren wombs, did they feel as Leona did when she began to realize that God was not showing her how to convince her friend of Catholic error, but instead He was convincing her that the Catholic Church was His Church?
When Sarah and Elizabeth held their sons and those little boys reached up to touch the weathered faces of their mothers, was that how Leona felt when she received Jesus Christ - Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity - in the Eucharist. Was it a stirring up of new life, a kind of spiritual birthing, a gift that had once seemed impossible?
What does it take for a woman in her 80s to say yes to such a profound change of heart? It's grace! Leona Choy is Catholic by Grace!
Over and over, Leona repeats one line: God has had His hand on her life. And it was His good pleasure to show her something new, something beautiful, something unexpected in the Catholic Church.
As with every long wait, as with every difficult labor, the gift on the other side is worth it all.
Congratulations, Leona! And welcome Home!
Journey to the Land of More can be ordered through CHResources. P.O. Box 8290, Zanesville, OH 43702 or 1-800-664-5110 or online www.chresources.com (or from amazon.com)
Leona Choy's blog: http://leonachoy.blogspot.com/