Gilbert, AZ – The East Valley SPSE team went out for the first time in downtown Gilbert, in the Heritage District, on a Friday night during the “Gilbert Food Truck Food Court” event. They had five first time evangelists who were fantastic out on the street, joyful and smiling and welcoming to people they encountered. The team was a mixture of people from several area parishes.
They gathered at 6 pm a couple blocks away and went over a few basics of the SPSE philosophy, looked over some of the resources and tracts available, discussed a few ideas about starting conversations and offering prayers, and then prayed the Evangelists Prayer together.
It was a little slow when they got started as people were still arriving to the event. They stood in groups of three or four with signs set up and rosaries in hand on two corners of Vaughn and Gilbert Rd., which seemed to be the most active corners. They had several good conversations and it was a good night to for a first time experience. They all agreed that in the future, setting up an SPSE table near the corner would be beneficial and allow us to display the resource items available for everyone.
Here are comments written by three of the first-time evangelists:
Steve wrote, “My first reaction to giving the kids rosaries was—it was a waste because they would just play with them. But, the more I thought about it I decided it was a good thing, because the sight of the rosaries in their homes might get their parents and/or grandparents thinking about their own faith. That these rosaries may initiate conversations/discussions about faith within the child’s families and maybe even with neighbors. That those rosaries, through the working of the Holy Spirit, may do great things we will never know of. We even heard one child ask her Mom what the rosary was as they were walking away, the Mom replied ‘it’s to remind you of Jesus, and that He loves you!’”
Victoria wrote, “It really was not that difficult to ask the passers-by if they would like a rosary. I did not get a lot of takers but on the other hand, no one was rude or confrontational. I also gave out a few of the handouts. One little boy in particular was so happy to receive the picture of Jesus, ‘Divine Mercy.’ He was a Christian and knew Jesus! My partner, Ann Marie, was outstanding and approached many in the crowd and started a conversation! She was very inspiring for me! There were many fallen away Catholics out there [for] whom I hope we planted a seed.”
Carolyn wrote, “I had a neat interaction with one gal who did take a rosary, who said she ‘used to be Catholic,’ but stopped going to church many years ago. She feels she does not need to go to church because she is a good person and she reads the Bible every day. Plus nowhere in the Bible, she said, does it say we have to go to church. I spoke to her briefly about the beauty of community, how society having gone the way of everybody ‘doing their own thing,’ and how that hasn’t turned out well. Since she had been away from church for many years, I gave her the pamphlets ‘How to Pray the Rosary,’ with a rosary, and ‘The Reasons to Return to the Catholic Church.’ She thanked me and promised to read them.”
Does street evangelization sound scary or difficult? From the words of these first-timers, you certainly don’t get the impression that it is. We need more first-timers like Steve, Victoria, and Carolyn. Will you be our next new evangelist?