We went out again for the first time in months since the pandemic hit. I wanted to do something simple that would touch people’s hearts, so we went to Lake Eola to set up a prayer station. I created these signs that read “Can I pray for you?” and had some rosaries on a picnic blanket for those people walking by. We were out there for about 2 ½ hours to pray with locals.
I walked around with a teammate holding the prayer sign and immediately a man sitting on the bench called us over. We asked him what he would like prayers for and he asked for prayers on his finances and job searching. After praying over him his friend mentioned to us that he did not want any prayer because he didn’t know what religion we were a part of. After mentioning to him that we were Catholic he began sharing a lot of apologetic arguments against Catholicism, stating pagan origins and false doctrines among other things. We listened to him for a while and I asked him where he seemed to get all his ideas, to which he gave no clear answer. I complimented him on being open to sharing with us and that he seemed like a man who was determined to learn the truth. I then shared with him that he believed in a lot of misconceptions of the Church that were popular among protestants and asked if we could continue the conversation. He was open to it, so I gave him a card on catholic audio talks and my number to reachout to me for a follow-up.
We walked along and several other men called us over excited to see that we were offering prayer. We prayed for healing and started discussing faith and community. These men did not belong to a church and one admitted he hadn’t read the bible in a long time. I shared a few passages of scripture with them to start reading and told them that a community was good to keep them accountable and grow in their faith.
Walking further down we ran into a man passing out a pocket KJV New Testament. He offered them to us and we asked him why he was sharing them with people. He shared with us that he gave away these pocket NT often at the park and collected testimonies from Christians as a personal online ministry. We shared our testimonies with him as well as a few crucifixes/gospel cards for him and his sons to wear.
After walking around the park, I switched with my teammates and sat at the prayer station. I began a decade of the rosary for intercession. A man named Nate came up to me with a sign that was asking for weed. He smiled and said he was just being honest, then shared with me that he was having a lot of anxiety and suffering but he couldn’t understand why God felt distant. I asked one or two questions and listened to why he felt anxious. I shared with him times when I felt desolation in my own prayer life, and began talking about why suffering continued to exist even if we are faithful to God. I told him that God allowed suffering, and Paul saw it as an opportunity to be close to Jesus on the cross who suffered for our sake when he could have chosen something else. I shared the kerygma with him and asked if he ever prayed the rosary. Nate didn’t want one at first but he continued the conversation.
Another man who seemed like his friend came up and asked for a few rosaries. So Nate began talking to my other teammates that had just arrived and I talked with this man about the rosary. He shared that he used to be a preacher before moving to Florida and that he loved going to the mass at the cathedral from time to time. He was not catholic, but he did have some questions about the hierarchy of the Church. I shared with him a bit about early church history and Apostolic Succession, and asked if he would like a card on catholic doctrines which he accepted and left.
We continued talking with Nate and then we packed everything for the day. He asked us if we had any time for coffee to which we all agreed and we went to a local Wawa station for some drinks and snacks. We got to know him a bit more and had some great conversation on keeping a prayer life and possibly starting a bible study with him. Please keep him in your prayers!
*All names recorded in Orlando stories have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals