Sometimes, we can put too much pressure on ourselves to be the perfect evangelist.
Have you seen that happen before, whether to yourself or those around you? Someone will begin talking about God, the Bible, or Catholicism, but then they stop to direct the conversation to someone else or change the subject. That’s fear making an appearance. The Enemy persuades us that we don’t know as much as the person next to us; therefore, out of fear, we won’t speak at all. Or, on the other hand, we’ll believe the lie that because we’re not put together in poise, speech, or overall life, that we have no authority to speak about Jesus’ love or His Church. I feel like this lie gets us most of the time.
With evangelization, we’re encouraged to walk with someone on their path to forming a relationship with God. So, when that doesn’t happen and we forget to keep up with someone, doubt enters into the scene. We begin to doubt that anything miraculous is happening within the person because we didn’t do our duty of sticking with them.
But that’s not where the story ends.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that “Grace is favor, the free and undeserved help that God gives us to respond to his call to become children of God, adoptive sons, partakers of the divine nature and of eternal life” (1996).
This is good news! This means that God is able to work in and around us despite our flawed human nature. It seems like a no-brainer, right? I mean, He is God after all. The interesting part is that we do forget this! We forget about grace! God knows us in the deepest, truest sense, but He also knows us by the mere fact that our first parents (Adam and Eve) fell. He knows what we’re capable of and what limits us.
Yet, He loves us anyway. This is grace.
Just as a parent does not expect their baby to pay back their debt of diapers, clothing and sleepless nights, so too does God care for us simply because we are His. Uniquely, His grace ranges from beautiful simplicity to immense miracles. When I was a junior in college, one of my suitemates was an exchange student from South Korea. Through some conversations here and there, my friend (who was another suitemate) and I discovered that she was an atheist. She mentioned her family was Christian, but she never really heard from God, so she gave up on the whole idea of Him. Throughout the one semester, she was with us, she would ask us questions about God and Christianity. These discussions ranged from her belief in the Pale Blue Dot Theory, gay marriages, nature, and church.
We would have intense discussions maybe once every month or every other month, but they were never formal by any means. I remember thinking one time, “Lord, I know she’s leaving back to Korea in a couple of weeks, but I hope she takes something of You back with her.”
My friend and I weren’t consistent in discussing God with her because we were never in our dorms, we were usually in the library or work. But even when we weren’t present, God’s grace was there all the more. My Korean suitemate pulled me aside one day and said something like, “Renee, I’m waking up in the morning or walking around school, and I just begin to say ‘Thank you.’ I don’t know who I’m talking to, but I look around me and realize how lucky I am to have the things I do and have the friends I do. I think it’s God?”
It brings tears to my eyes just writing that. Her noticing her blessings was far beyond what I could ever do on my own. Her realization was solely by the grace of God. He was revealing Himself to her just because He loves her.
Before my suitemate returned to Korea, she told me that she told her mom she would be interested in going to church with the family again and her mom was incredibly happy. Even when she returned to Korea, she would voice message me to discuss scripture. She even shared some Bible verses that stuck out to her (which I could easily see were God’s messages to her).
But things could have been different. I could have given up on the whole idea of this atheist believing in God earlier on in our friendship. I could have let doubt creep in to tell me that I wasn’t doing a good job and therefore she would never get to know God. Thankfully, He had a different story. Even the mere fact that doubt didn’t intervene was grace given to me by God. So, friends, my question is: Do we trust that God’s grace works in the process of evangelization? Do we believe that the Holy Spirit can move in any conversation or in any moment of silence more effectively than we ever could? I hope we do.
He has trusted you to care for the hearts of others. Don’t forget to place your trust in Him, too. You’re not expected to carry the weight of the world or be everyone’s savior – He has already done that.
St. Paul, one of the coolest evangelists of all time, said,
“But the Lord said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’ I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me. Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).
We don’t need to have it all together to share the Gospel; Jesus used the most random, excluded people to evangelize. He will pick up where we lack because He loves us all, both the person sending the message and the person receiving it. Let Him use you. Don’t be afraid.
Trust in the grace of God.