by Michelle Buissé
The summer break has finally arrived and many of you are off to new adventures! Whether you are a student on mission or just returning home to a summer job, or a graduate starting their new career or off travelling the world, you will likely run into opportunities to share the reason for your joy with others.
As missionaries, we are dedicated to proclaiming the Gospel in a way that invites people to respond. We know, like Saint Paul, that this message is of first importance. However, we cannot let our zeal interfere with the work the Holy Spirit wishes to accomplish in others. If we are not mindful of the way we communicate the message our sharing can do more harm than good. The effectiveness of our evangelization depends on our disposition towards people and our reliance on the Holy Spirit.
So here are some helpful tips to becoming successful witnesses over the summer!
There are 4 principles by which we can guide our work of evangelization:
- 1. God is calling me to be faithful
- 2. I must be motivated by love
- 3. I must rely on the Holy Spirit
- 4. I have great expectations in what God can accomplish
What do you think it means to be faithful in the context of evangelization?
Being faithful in the context of evangelization is doing what God has asked us to do: share the Gospel with people who do not know Jesus or do not know him well enough.
We cannot wait for people to come to us with questions. We know they need this message now; therefore, we need to take the initiative to start spiritual conversations. For you this means being aware of opportunities around you. If you are open, God will give you many opportunities each day.
God has not called me to be successful; he has called me to be faithful.
Blessed Mother Teresa
This quote from Blessed Mother Teresa sums it up for us. God is not calling us to convert everyone we encounter! He is simply calling us to take the initiative to share the message whenever possible. What happens as a result of our sharing is up to God!
The key is to develop relationships that will provide opportunities for you to share in a way people can respond favourably. As your relationships grow, you’ll establish the trust needed to have spiritual conversations. Maybe you already have this type of relationship with someone and just need to take it to the next level.
What does it mean to be motivated by love?
Proclaiming Christ and bearing witness to him, when done in a way that respects consciences, does not violate freedom. Faith demands a free adherence on the part of man, but at the same time faith must also be offered to him…
On her part, the Church addresses people with full respect for their freedom. Her mission does not restrict freedom but rather promotes it. The Church proposes; she imposes nothing. She respects individuals and cultures, and she honors the sanctuary of conscience.
These two quotes from the encyclical Redemptoris Missio written by Pope Saint John Paul II highlight the importance the Church places on charity while sharing the Gospel. As missionaries, we must share out of love for people but also with love. We must seek first to understand the person with whom we are sharing the Gospel, and propose it in a way that is most attractive for that person.
Evangelization is not about what the missionary knows, but about what the other needs to know.
What are some practical ways we can be loving when we are in evangelistic conversation?
- 1. Take a genuine interest in the person.
- a. Ask questions about their lives.
- b. Personalize your sharing by using the person’s name.
- 2. Watch your attitude and do not judge. See whatever situation they are in as an opportunity for God to do a miracle in someone’s life.
- 3. If you are using the Ultimate Relationship booklet or are writing analogies and diagrams on a napkin take the opportunity to look at them and speak directly to them.
- 4. Ask them if they have any questions as often as seems appropriate.
- 5. Don’t force them to listen or respond even if you would like them to.
- a. Respect what they say and be aware of their body language.
- b. Be ready to respond appropriately.
What does it mean to rely on the Holy Spirit?
The Holy Spirit is God’s special empowerment for evangelization.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
- The Lord’s plan is to give us the power to be his witnesses. We need to ask and rely on the Holy Spirit to work through us.
- We were promised confidence and boldness.
For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.
2 Timothy 1:7
- We will be given the words to say.
For I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict.
What does it mean to have great expectations in what God can accomplish?
So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.
1 Corinthians 3:7
We cannot win someone over on our own strength. God is the one charged with converting the hearts of people. We are just messengers. Our call is to propose the Gospel message to those who do not know Jesus or do not know him well enough.
However, we do know that our sharing will not be in vain. God can do far more than we could ever ask or imagine. Whenever the Word of God is proclaimed it has an effect on people.
So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
We may be one link in a long chain of witnesses to Christ in a person’s life. This is God’s concern. We are only to be faithful.
There you go! Four simple things to remember when you are sharing your faith with others: 1- God is calling me to be faithful 2- I must be motivated by love 3- I must rely on the Holy Spirit 4- I have great expectations in what God can accomplish. I have great expectations that God will use you in a powerful way this summer if you are open!
We’d love to hear from you over the summer! Share with us the ways you are being faithful to the mission and the ways God has blown away your expectations in the lives of the people around you. You can use our Facebook page or the comment section of this blog entry. We’d love to hear what the Spirit is up to through you!