My Evangelization Story: declaration

Proclaiming and witnessing: declaration (Part 4b of 4)

The rewards of proclaiming and witnessing

I truly admire those who unselfishly share their resources for evangelistic works. This generosity of sharing time, talent and treasure is in response to God’s love, grace, blessings and salvation – a simple expression of gratitude.

After giving our best efforts, let us remember that the work of evangelization is not about us, it is all about God. Just like the process of germination, we acknowledge that our role in the setting is God’s co-worker in His vineyard: (i) He plant the seed in the heart of the person; (ii) we help cultivating the soil by providing avenues like invitation to the prayer meeting and community activities; (iii) then we let God water it with the attitude of surrender with the hope that God will bless our effort; and (iv) the last part which is already beyond our control is on how the person will respond to God’s call.

Let us be inspired of looking at the joys and rewards of our service. Just like the noble teachers or catechists, let us be more concern about the outcome (saving souls) rather than income (what monetary value we gave from it).

Let us remember that this journey of evangelization is also for us: to learn about humility, and compassion. At the same time, it can also be a means of affirming the gifts that God gave us – the gift of salvation – that we freely share to others. It sometimes requires us to look back to realize how far God have taken us in this worthwhile journey called life.

Empowered to pay it forward

As God continue to empower me, allow me to share with you a favorite passage that made a major impact on my evangelization story. I go back to this passage to draw strength and inspiration whenever tempted, discouraged, tired or harassed in my evangelization works and journey through life in general. It brings me to reflect as to the “Why and for whom am I doing this?”. This is when Jesus read the Gospel declaring and claiming God’s empowerment in Luke 4:18-19, it says:

ME

  The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

The evangelization story: next chapter

 Until now I cannot still pinpoint when and how exactly my relationship with God started, but I am sure that without the presence of people who taught, encouraged and supported me to memorized prayers, go to Mass, serve at the parish and join religious organizations; a personal relationship with God would not be established. Because of their faith, hope and love to God, I experience and encountered God’s faith, hope and love in the different stages of my life.

As I continue to journey through life, God gave me Getti as life-long partner and evangelizer with whom, with expectant faith, and Elisha Marie as reminder of our life-long evangelization vocation, I am looking forward to another chapter of fruitful and grace-filled discovery, discipleship and declaration of the Lord’s Good News.

My Evangelization Story: declaration

Proclaiming and witnessing: declaration (Part 4a of 4) 

Personal and tailored-fit

In the recent issue of Youngster, it featured an article entitled Evangelization: the Pope Francis Way. What I like about the article is the portion where it reminded me that according to Jesus, our mission to be fulfilled on earth as Christian is to evangelize.

My favorite line from The Youngster article is the enumeration of the different means to make Jesus’ life known to all: fiery speeches to wordless witness, zealous crusades to open dialogue, scrolls of parchment to podcasts and blogs. Isn’t the line poetic? It sounded easy, but is it?

Evangelization is very personal – it is tailored-fit and there is no one-size-fit- all approach. As a unique individual, the Lord will call us in our least expected circumstances. For countless times, God met me when I failed, when I sinned, when I felt joy, when I was frustrated, when  I was afraid, when I was victorious, when I was tired – just about anywhere and anytime I called upon Him.

Be ready for the challenges

Since evangelization work is of God’s then it will be challenged by the negative force.  There are some challenges that will confront us in this mission. Allow me to share with my personal challenges:

Pride and self-righteousness: it is not about me, it is about GodThere was a time I realized that despite tremendous efforts, there seems to be little or no progress in my evangelization work. I found out the problem was with me: I developed pride and became self-righteous. I started to consider the change of heart of another to be my own doing. The work mission was already a “mining” task – a way to feed my ego. By God’s grace, I was able to correct myself and acknowledge that the task at hand is all about God and not mine.

Super Evangelizer: I cannot save the whole world all at once, only one-soul-at-a-time. With much enthusiasm and excitement to change stone into bread and water into wine, I started to have a vision of saving every person I meet. Eventually I began to feel tired and consumed from all the activities – I got burnt out. It was because I spreading myself thinly.

Then I came across a reading which I kept until now, which goes:

“A devout person once said: In my youth, fired with the love of God, I thought I would convert the whole world. But soon I learned it would be enough to convert the people who lived in my village. I tried that for a long time, but I was unsuccessful. Then I realized that my program was still too ambitious, so I concentrated on reforming the members of my own household. But I couldn’t convert them either. Finally, it dawned on me that I must work only upon myself. But I have stumbled in my attempt to accomplish even that.”

This inspired me to be very wise about rendering service and being protective of myself, because since I can only do the mission of evangelization one-soul-at-a-time.

Unworthiness and inadequacy: even if I’m young and not a good enough, God will empower me. As I grow in service, there were new assignments given to me. The reluctant me would always give an excuse of me being young, not yet ready or not good enough. For a time I was saying no to ”additional” work and eventually stayed in my safe state — comfort zone. Through prayers and encouragements, I began to take steps and exploring new grounds.

Ammunition for Evangelization

Based on experience, I realized that in order for me to be an effective evangelizer, I have to be in “mission mode” with 3A’s strategy: Attraction, Attention and Affection.

Attraction: I live my life being with hope, modesty, order, kindness, positivity and joy, despite the daily struggles and challenges. In a way, this created a sense of curiosity to some people around which resulted to them being attracted to what I’m doing as a Christian. When someone start to ask about when or where I go for Mass or request to be included in prayers petitions, I start to pray for guidance and courage to approach the person for a chat. I have proven that evangelization work is done through the daily words and action that speak about my life – it’s walking the talk.

kindness

Attention: It is important that I devout time, effort and resources in the mission to bring another to a personal relationship with God. As every relationship requires time, it is necessary to spend time with the person. I pay attention to details about the family, those around the house, the choices of sport, genre of music and films/movies and things that will make the person more comfortable with me. In this way, it will be easy for me to introduce to other persons with the common interest.

Affection: Whenever the person is sharing about a concern, difficulty, and moments of sorrow, joy or successes – whether small or big, I express affection with genuine concern. I find it important to be truthful and sincere in order to gain trust and to send a message mutual trust and confidentiality is highly valued. Reality is evangelization work starts with listening. It is always important that a person knows that you are willing and capable of listening, as this connotes understanding and acceptance.

It helped to do evangelization mission, however challenging, whenever I’m reminded by the Prayer of Jabez which says:

“Oh that You would bless me indeed and enlarge my border, and that Your hand might be with me, and that You would keep me from harm that it may not pain me!”

My Evangelization Story: discipleship

The evangelization story: discovering God (Part 2 of 4)

Evangelization is relationship-building

God continuously bring people into my life to be part of my evangelization journey: my Grandmother who taught me prayers; my Aunt who brought and encouraged me to go to Mass; my elementary teacher who encouraged me to become Altar Boy; my religion class teachers who were instrumental in nurturing my interest for study about Christianity and the Catholic Church; my fellow Sta. Monica Youth Ministry (SMYM) members who has been inspirations on how to be a responsible youth and in serving God through His church; my Brothers who are role model in dedicated service rendered as a Knight of Columbus (KC).

Ang Lingkod Ng Panginoon (ALNP) sisters and brothers gave me venue to continue my journey with God through service. Servants of the Lord’s Vineyard (SOLV) Sisters and Brothers accepted me as a family member the warm welcome, presence, prayer and support for Getti, Elisha and I. Our journey with Ligaya Ng Panginoon (LNP) has been teaching us a lot about marriage and how to work together with God as constant partner in our life as a family.

 Getti: my life-long evangelizer and partner

As I am reminded that evangelization is not a one-time big time journey, God sent my life-long evangelizer and partner in Getti. When I met and learned that Getti is a member of SOLV, I saw how dedicated she serves, how firm she is in her beliefs, how she keeps her values, how generous of she shares time and resources for the Lord, and how accepting and non-judgmental she is in her dealings with others.

I am thankful to God for Getti. She continues to be my daily evangelizer: on how to deal with parents and in-laws; how to handle resources; how to treat others with love and respect; how to share freely and not counting anything in return.  With her as my wife and life-long evangelizer, I know that God will shape me to the best person that I can be. Getti is a manifestation of God’s love to me and an affirmation that doing my mission as a Christian is life journey not meant to spend alone.

JAY&GETTI 0190

My series of discoveries of God was made possible through different relationships.  What is common about those who are instrumental of my encounters with God is that they were first my friends. Our friendships serve as foundation for me to know more about God and eventually led to personal friendship with Him. Their acceptance and sincerity played a big factor which established a life-long friendship that ushered my exciting journey as a Christian.

 

 

growth

Anyone who has ever really lived knows that there is no life without growth. When we stop growing, we stop living and start existing. But there is no growth without challenge, and there is no challenge without change. Life is a series of changes that create challenges, and if we are going to make it, we have to grow – Warren Wiersbe

where are you now?

I tweeted today about seeing school kids crossing the street with their teachers. The scene brought a lot of memories that moved me to pray for classmates, friends and teachers. God bless them!

May the souls of Teray, Job and Mary Beth rest in peace. My fondest memories of Job were our bike rides going to school with the three of us (You, Ramel and I). Teray was the strongest female classmate! Mary Beth’s bursting of mucous (sip-on) bubble when she tried to tickle her nose in order to sneeze was classic! You are remembered in my prayers.

And to all those I met in life’s crossroads, I would like to dedicate this song to all of you!