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 God. There 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.
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!”