Conquering Frustration in Evangelization

Sharing the Good News–the evangel (Greek) in evangelization–isn’t all smooth sailing. Yes, we have Good News to share. The best news, in fact. Yet, being an evangelist can be frustrating, even heart-wrenching at times. It can leave you feeling burned out, defeated, disappointed by seemingly wasted efforts, and even lonely.

Now, we can try and proof-text those feelings and perceptions away, praying with Chapter 8 of the Letter to the Romans, where Paul declares, “all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose,” “if God is for us, who can be against us?” and finally, “we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us.” 

But sometimes Paul’s sense of victory and confidence can be so far removed from our actual experiences, our actual attempts and disappointments in evangelizing, that his wonderful words suddenly seem comfortless. Our prayers seem empty.

Now you might be thinking, “Wow, this is quite the downer on Monday in the Octave of Easter,” but hear me out.  I’ve been wrestling with disappointment and frustration as an evangelizer. Call it a Lenten desert time. Call it a period of desolation. Call it a “season in ministry,” or whatever.

My point is, each of us has struggles as evangelizers. Having an urgency and ardent desire to see others come to know and follow Jesus Christ is a serious call, and so it can also inspire great feelings of frustration when things seem to be going the wrong way (or going nowhere at all).

The Easter season, however, sends us a powerful antidote, a boost to our evangelizing spirituality–the importance of sharing victories. Sharing wins. Sharing testimony of God’s power and glory and work of evangelization.

I was reminded of this as I attended an evening dinner that featured real people right from my local area sharing their personal testimony of conversion. The joy overwhelmed me. It reminded me that it’s not the worst thing in the world to get frustrated in the work of evangelization because it is so important.

During the Easter season, we’ll read through many chapters of the Acts of the Apostles. It’s an amazing book that highlights wins, victories, and testimonies to the power of Jesus Christ. We also see that it’s not just about reading about these things in history or in the Bible, but taking action to gather those around us and share what God is doing.

As just one example (there are many), check out Paul and Barnabas. After returning from a missionary journey, they “called the church together and reported what God had done with them and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles” (Acts 14:27). A simple, yet important detail the author of Acts chooses to include–seriously, he must have known something about the life of an evangelist. 😉

If the early Christians (including some who had seen Jesus in the flesh walking on earth) needed to hear stories of victory, of wins in evangelization, then how much more do we need to regularly gather our communities to do this? Gathering to report what God is doing with us as evangelists is part of a spirituality that sustains each of us in our mission to spread the Gospel. Reading accounts from history or news stories online is, of course, good–but there’s something special about a community gathered to connect personally and share reports of God at work, the Good News going forth.

Now’s the perfect time. This Easter season make a commitment to find some time to meet with others (or maybe just one friend or mentor) and talk about the victories God has done, in your life or the lives of others.

Copyright 2014, Colleen Vermeulen

Colleen Vermeulen

Colleen Vermeulen

Colleen Reiss Vermeulen, M.Div., M.N.A., blogs, ministers in parish life and lay/deacon formation, and serves as a U.S. Army Reserve officer. She and her husband, Luke, have been married since 2011 and live in Ypsilanti, MI with their two young sons.

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