Keith: In 2001, I was a Protestant pastor.
We had a huge youth group. 300 kids every week would come to our youth group, which is a big deal in our town.
One of our friends invited us to lunch, and we went to this Chinese restaurant. I met this guy, and he says, “My daughter goes to your youth group.”
And I thought I was in trouble because I’m like, “Oh no. He’s Catholic. He probably thinks I’m like trying to convert his daughter.”
And he said, “I just wanted to tell you I appreciate your ministry and what you’re doing. She comes home every Wednesday night and she’s excited about her faith. I would like to invite you to go to this place called Medjugorje. I’ll pay for your trip.”
He had a huge conversion experience over there. He’s explaining this place to me, and I said, “Okay I don’t really know about this.”
Well our fortune cookies came. My fortune said, “You are about to go on an amazing journey.”
I didn’t know anything about it. I was not at all interested in Catholicism really, but I was invited to go, so I thought I would go.
I went on this trip, and it was a really amazing experience. That was the first time that I ever saw Catholics worshipping Jesus with the Virgin Mary – that part of their faith helping them grow closer to Christ. It really had an impact on me.
Then years later, 2016, I was serving as an associate pastor in a Methodist church. I’d been a minister 22 years.
A friend of mine came to me, and he said, “Hey, I want to take you and your wife to go see this movie, Apparition Hill.” He goes to Medjugorje. He’s probably been 70 times. He takes people over there all the time. So we went to see the movie.
When I watched the movie, all this stuff got churned back up from 15 years earlier. I remember just feeling like, “Wow this is just incredible.”
Long story short, about a year later, I quit my job and converted to Catholicism.
I went back to Medjugorje with my wife, now as a Catholic in 2018. My one year anniversary of coming into the Church was the first day that we got to Medjugorje. It was incredible.
“This was taken at the same spot where I had a very loud argument with my friend Devin who first spoke to me about Catholicism back in 2001. We were arguing about the canon of scripture or something. The police thought we were going to fight. LOL. I sent him this photo with the simple message ‘You win.'”
While we were there, my wife had an unbelievable experience in confession. Then the next day, we were on our way back to Split, Croatia. I think it was 5:25 when the Blessed Mother appeared in Medjugorje. We all stopped to pray. While we were praying, this lightning bolt out of nowhere just hit me.
I grabbed my phone and I started typing out this thing. I said to my wife, “This is the book that I have to write.” It’s called The Convert’s Guide to Roman Catholicism: Your First Year in the Church. It was like our Blessed Mother just gave me this entire book instantly.
So I wrote it, and it’s out. Now I’m back doing ministry full-time as a Catholic. I have a podcast, a YouTube channel, I travel and speak. God’s just done amazing things.
And I point back to going to see that film Apparition Hill as a huge piece of that. As a matter of fact, we just watched it maybe two weeks ago again. And I just loved it.
Estelle: I was raised Catholic. But when he was a pastor, you know, I was a pastor’s wife. I didn’t have a desire to become Catholic again. I was very happy being the pastor’s wife. But when he was going through all of this, I thought, “I’m going to follow him into the Church.”
Actually, when I went to Medjugorje, I kind of had a little attitude about it, because I was like, “We became Catholic. He quit his job. Why aren’t things happening God?” We didn’t know how we were going to financially live. We were kind of in a rough time. So I thought, “Well, this is my last chance. God’s going to talk to me here.”
And the last night, He still hadn’t said anything to me. Nothing major happened, and I was so upset. I went and had this amazing confession experience with a priest there, and it opened my eyes.
Things didn’t really take off right away, but I feel like I needed that priest. I feel like God was speaking right through him, and he just said everything I needed to hear.
Keith: She [Our Lady] got me when I was still a pastor.
I was starting to open my mind to Her after we saw the movie Apparition Hill and I was thinking about Her more. Then I preached a sermon in my Protestant church about the Annunciation, when the angel Gabriel came to Her. When I was preparing that sermon in my office, as I’m writing and thinking of Her, I start to cry.
I’ve never experienced that before. I’m like, “What is going on with me?” I’m looking into this. I’m reading about Her. I’m thinking about Her. And I start to well up and get emotional with this.
So I preach this sermon to my non-Catholic congregation about how Mary is the new Eve. She’s the new Ark of the Covenant. She’s full of grace. As I’m preaching this, I feel the Holy Spirit and I feel Her with me.
And my church just flipped out. They thought it was incredible. They loved it. They were like, “That was amazing. We’ve never heard of that before. We’d never thought of it. We had no idea what it was all about.”
So what happened with the Blessed Mother and me then was I had all of these intellectual objections to Catholicism, and She just went around all of that and got me right here [Keith points to his heart]. For me, that was huge.
But I really feel like it all started there in Medjugorje. That was the first time I saw people in their devotion to Mary being drawn closer to Jesus. As a Protestant, that’s what I was always afraid of, that drawing closer to the Blessed Mother is gonna take you away from Christ.
I had to be there to see it in person to see how it was the opposite. What I saw there, I was just like, “I want all of that. That is amazing.”
My YouTube is Keith Nester.
I have an online Rosary group that we started when the pandemic started. We’ve been praying it every day online at 5 o’clock since March 18th, so over six months. There’s about a thousand people every day on there that pray the Rosary with us on livestream.
50 countries of people that are joining in our Rosary stream. It’s amazing.
Podcast: Catholic Feedback