I never meant to be an evangelist. Stepping out in faith to talk about my secret friendship with Jesus made this introvert shudder and retreat.
What does it mean to evangelize? Why does God want us to reveal our relationship with him – isn’t our faith personal and private? These were my arguments before I saw the value in sharing my faith with others. Saint John Paul II convinced me to act on his words in Evangelii Nuntiandi:
Here lies the test of truth, the touchstone of evangelization: it is unthinkable that a person should accept the Word and give himself to the kingdom without becoming a person who bears witness to it and proclaims it in his turn. (EN 24)
He also taught that the most effective way to evangelize is through our personal witness – and that’s just what we have available to us!
We all have a unique faith story to tell, our account of God’s mercy in our lives. How many ways does he comfort, guide, love, forgive and heal us by answering our prayers and working miracles? Sharing God’s actions in our lives is the best way to become an effective witness because it is authentic and personal. But it is not private. We need to share our story as much as those we meet need to hear it.
Anointed to evangelize
Our baptism began our faith story. We were anointed to evangelize. At Confirmation, we were commissioned and sent forth to evangelize. We can fulfill our call to evangelize by sharing our faith story at every opportunity given us by God.
Throughout our faith story, we tell of God’s mercy, his salvation, redemption and transformation of our lives. God expresses his love through our story. He created each of us as an unrepeatable expression of his presence. He builds our faith each time we encounter him. Each time we tell our story, we reveal a unique expression of God’s presence. The life of Jesus living in us connects with the life of Jesus living in another. We share his love and mercy as members of the Body of Christ.
Five tips to get ready
Here are five tips for beginning to evangelize through our personal witness, based on my favorite evangelization verse, 1 Peter 3:15,16:
Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence.
1. Always be ready – and willing — to share what God is doing in your life. Know your faith story. Be attentive to the nudges of the Holy Spirit to share with an old friend or someone new in your life.
2. Always be curious about the faith story of those around you and gently encourage them to share their story with you. Approach with admiration that friend you have known for years but whose story you have never heard.
Authentic and open to grace
3. Always be authentic. Keep in mind that your witness is not just what you say, but how you live out your faith and demonstrate the reason for your hope. Be approachable.
4. Always be open to receive the grace of the moment, the gift of God’s presence. Then be open to giving away that gift of God’s presence in you to others. Let a little of your faith story leak out to those around you and see what happens.
5. Always seek continuous conversion with humility. Look for ways to renew your faith. Be the one who invites those on the fringes of the church to accompany you to a retreat, day of renewal, Bible Study or evangelization seminar.
How do I start evangelizing by sharing my faith story?
Begin journaling. Keep a spiritual journal with all the blessings the Lord has given you. Ponder the high and low points of your life, praying and listening to the Holy Spirit.
Knowing and pondering our faith story helps clarify our thoughts. We see how God intervened and steered us to the path he planned for our greatest happiness. We see his mercy.
Start now with your spiritual journal. Let the Holy Spirit remind you of the marvelous blessings God has brought into your life.
Sharing what the Lord has done to transform you will build your faith, enrich your life and amaze those around you.
Where can you go to pray, write, and ponder your faith story?