Both a Leader and a Friend

This year’s Summer Sampler is about “Women Who Have Changed Our Lives,” the women who have inspired or encouraged us in our spiritual walk. These are the unsung heroes of the faith, the Sunday School teachers and neighbors and friends who were instrumental in our spiritual growth. No matter who we are or where we come from, God can use us to make a difference for eternity. And he calls all of us! We’re hoping that these stories will inspire and encourage you that you, too, can make a difference in the spiritual life of another woman.

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Both a Leader and a Friend

By Faith Catanzaro

I was an awkward 15-year-old when I first joined my new church’s youth group. We had been going to the church for a while but hadn’t gotten around to checking out the student activities until then. I remember feeling incredibly nervous and shy around all the kids my own age. I used to get anxious when trying to get to know new people and find things to talk about, so I didn’t think it was going to go very smoothly.

Faith and Lisa

After wandering around for a while watching what the other kids were doing, I was introduced to Lisa, my small group leader. She was so friendly and warm, and I instantly felt much more relaxed. She sat with me during our large group time and kept talking to me and making me feel welcome. Lisa helped introduce me to the other girls my age and get me connected to people who enjoyed the same activities I did. I truly enjoyed getting to meet her that day!

Pretty much every week after that you could find me at youth group. During the school year, I was still very shy. It took me years to truly come out of my shell. I had so much to say, but my courage to express my thoughts had been smothered in the past. That first year in the youth group was very rough for me because I felt like everyone had already known each other for years and were very close to each other. However, no matter where we were, Lisa never failed to include me and encourage me to speak and contribute. She asked me questions about myself, prayed for me, built me up emotionally when I was timid, and pushed me to do great things that were very much outside of my comfort zone.

Since this time, Lisa has always stayed in my life as a close mentor and supporter, even after I graduated from high school. She has always respected me as a person and listened to what I had to say. Lisa is one of the first adults I’ve known that I can truly call my friend. Her faith is so uplifting to me. She has always been quick to share what God has been doing in her life and encourages me and others to follow Christ and to cling to Him in every situation. I know her prayers have been with me over these past few years, and I am so grateful for her influence in my life during my high school years. Lisa was there for me through some of the most challenging times, and she has always allowed me to share my heart – both the sorrows and joys.

God has used her in my life through my transition from teenager to adult. Having people like her present during these times has made me a stronger, wiser, and more faithful Christian and individual. I always knew she had my best interest in mind, no matter what her advice would be about a situation. I could trust her with anything, and having a mentor and friend that I could open up to in such a close way meant the world to me, especially at a time when I didn’t have many close friends who wanted to invest so much in my life.

Today, we are both pulled in different directions a lot of the time, but nevertheless she is there for me whenever I need advice or to talk. I am so blessed to have her in my life. She is a strong woman of Christ and a great example to others of a faithful servant and an earnest leader. Lisa has impacted me in many positive ways since I’ve met her and has helped me grow in my faith toward a closer walk with God.

Faith Catanzaro is a 19-year-old from Nashua, NH. She is starting college at Liberty University in the fall of 2022 to study video production and is eager to see the ways in which God is calling her to use her skills. Faith is currently taking a gap year and enjoying working full-time as a kitchen manager at a restaurant. She loves music and spending time with friends and family.