Austin, TX. Here is a great testimony from one of our training participants about his experience street evangelizing. His name is Terry.
“After our day long class on street evangelization presented by Adam Janke from the St. Paul Evangelization Ministries, we set out to the streets. Our class met under the parking garage at St. Mary’s Cathedral. Adam reminded us to listen, befriend, proclaim, and invite. Deacon Guadalupe prayed over us, then we were off.
We decided to set up camp on a street corner where there was a bank with a corner window that had a nice big ledge to lay out a few of the pamphlets. In one hand we held our rosaries so that the crucifix was exposed and facing out. In the other hand we held one of the pamphlets that had a picture of our Blessed Mother holding the child Jesus and large print that read “How to Pray the Rosary.” As people walked by we would say hello and smile. A few homeless people stopped and requested rosaries but weren’t really interested in any discussion. We did pray for them.
Finally, a woman stopped who was on her way to work. She said she was Catholic but hadn’t been to mass for many years. She knew that today was the Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe yet didn’t know what that meant. Javier explained Our Lady of Guadalupe and the story of Juan Diego. She asked for a rosary and the pamphlet that explained how to pray the rosary.
We asked her why she didn’t go to mass. I noticed tears in her eyes as she answered that her work didn’t allow her to go. She explained that she and her family were living with friends and didn’t have their own home. She began to tell us how difficult it was to live with friends and that her main focus right now was work. She didn’t feel that she had time to go to mass. She was either working or too tired to do anything else. I sensed that she felt trapped with no way out. However, I also sensed that our Blessed Mother was clearly calling her back to her true home, the Church and her beloved son, Jesus.
We assured her that she was not alone. We told her she has a church family that loves her and she has a God who loves her and wants only the very best for her. We invited her to attend mass at the Cathedral since it was close to her work. I pointed out the fact that she stopped to talk with us could be the Holy Spirit urging her to return to the Church. She said that she would try to make it to mass soon. We gave her some information on Mobile Loaves and Fishes and told her to contact them about housing. If they couldn’t help her perhaps they could lead her in the right direction to receive help. We prayed for her and her family, then she headed on her way to work.
After she left I felt extremely helpless. I didn’t feel prepared with the resources I needed to help this woman. I felt a strong desire to do more, to be better prepared. I had a sudden realization that street evangelization isn’t something we plan and attend on the basis of a schedule. It isn’t something we fit into the mix of our lives. It should be our life. I have spent the past year of deacon formation growing and maturing in my spiritual life, my prayer life. Making the connection that it’s not about fitting my spirituality into my day, rather, it’s about fitting my day into my spirituality. I have suddenly made the same connection with evangelization.
It is clear to me now that the next step in deacon formation is evangelization. To be better prepared to proclaim the good news of the Gospel. To be ready at any given moment to evangelize in a way that helps people to receive and acknowledge what is the next step for them to come back.”
“But how can they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how can they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone to preach?” (Romans 10:14)
Terry’s insight that the needs of evangelization should lead us to build our daily life around evangelization and not visa-versa, is an important insight. The need is so great, that without Christian disciples who are dedicated in this way, how can the mission ever be adequately carried out? Thank you, Terry, for your witness! Readers, are you willing to follow Terry’s example?