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Douglasville / West Georgia

Country: United States
State or province: Georgia

Team Leader
Jeremy Noonan

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Summer Concert Outreach Discovery

June 9, 2024

SPSE Team Photo

A team went out last Wednesday to reach out to people going to the first weekly summer concert at the Douglasville amphitheater.  Christine and Pat joined me before the concert; Gertrude, who is new to St. Theresa's, joined me afterwards.  We set up a table on the Church St. sidewalk across the street from the Douglas County Museum.  Unlike Monday night at the food truck, most people did not accept the offer of a Rosary as they passed by, because their focus was on getting to the amphitheater to find a good seat.

I noticed across the street a group of people exit an office and another group standing around waiting to get in. I wandered over there to inquire about this place.  Turns out it is a social services office that includes a DUI court.  People were also there for family counseling and addiction programs.  Seeing an opportunity, Pat and I grabbed a handful of rosaries to distribute.  Here was a group that felt deeply their need for divine assistance!  And they had time to talk.  One young woman had just finished a family counseling appointment with her mom.  She had the name Jeremiah tatooed on her arm - the name of her son.  I asked her what she knew about the prophet Jeremiah and shared with her the promises of the New Covenant in Jeremiah 31.  She said she didn't know what it meant to be "born again" but before I had a chance to answer, she was called back in to the office.

Next I met a guy named Ashton who exited the building on a electronic bicycle, which was his new mode of transportation since his license was suspended.  He shared that he was finishing an alcohol addiction program.  Though he had been baptized, he was not active in any church.  I shared the Gospel with him, describing Sin as analogous to addiction, and why I had become Catholic.  I offered him a ride to Mass and left my contact info.

People in desperate situations, whose lives have been wrecked by sin, gather here daily.  What an opportunity for evangelism!  I plan to call the court this week to discern the best way to reach out (and to make sure our efforts are not disruptive but helpful to what they are doing).

Gertrude and I returned at 830 to reach concert goers on their way from the concert.  This proved more effective, though some people seemed eager to get home and didn't stop.  We had a few quality conversations.  There was a group of 3 young women who walked by with a wagon full of refreshments.  They were their to sell healthy snacks and drinks.  Neither was active in Church, though they all had a Christian background.  They listened receptively as I explained why Mary is so important and why we pray to her.

This was Gertrude's first time doing an outreach, so she mostly just listened, but when people come out for the first time I want to involve them in a conversation.  When theses ladies left, she shared with me her ideas about using the wedding of Cana to explain Mary's role.  Then a young couple - a Hispanic woman named Anna and an African-American man named Jay - walked by.  We had run out of rosaries and so started offering Miraculous Medals.  Anna was very interested in the Medals and she also wanted our last Rosary.  As I explained the Rosary to her, I invited Gertrude to share more.  She passionately and eloquently shared her thoughts about the wedding of Cana.  I told Gertrud afterwards that perhaps she has a spiritual gift she didn't know about!

Neither Jay or Anna went to church, but said they were involved in some kind of home Bible study.  Anna was so eager to learn that she took a copy of each of our brochures! Reaching 'Gen-Z' young people like this who are unchurched but spiritually open is the main reason why we do this.  Moving forward, we are going to setup at 8p for the Wednesday concerts to reach folks as they leave, and establish a separate time to setup at the DUI court.


First Douglasville Team Outreach!

June 4, 2024

We did our first outreach Monday night at the Food Truck event in downtown Douglasville.  Henry Leiva and Lucy Erozo joined me. Food trucks were lined up on Church Street. We found a prime spot on the sidewalk where we could catch people walking by to the trucks (and where it was quiet enough to have a good conversation).

SPSE Team Photo

The evening could not have gone better.  After praying together and watching me a couple of times, Henry and Lucy jumped right in and had a great first experience:

SPSE Team Photo
I was amazed by how many people were receptive receiving the rosary, and the need to evangelize people that are away from God and not really attending or a member of a church. I was surprised how kids were engaged to ask questions about the rosary [when we offered one to their parents] and it can be a great start for a family to attended a Catholic church. I also met some Catholics that are not attending Mass and gave them an invitation to St. Theresa's. We pray we will see them at Mass. I am very exited, blessed and looking forward to the next event for St Paul Evangelism! - HENRY
This was a unique experience. I felt very emotional, honored by the lord our God because allow me to be one of his disciples and bring a litter of his love to those who need it. I also realized the need to carry the good news of Jesus love to others. - LUCY
I'd like to highlight a few of the longer conversations we got to participate in together.
The first extended conversation was with a young woman named Saturn who was collecting signatures to add a Democratic Socialist candidate to the presidential ballot.  She declined a Rosary, but told us that she left a local evangelical church because she was a lesbian and experienced trauma over their attempts at "conversion therapy."  She added that her Italian ancestors were Catholic and her mom had her christened as a baby. Since she had the impression that the Church was more welcoming to LGBT people, she said that if she were to return to Christianity it would be in the Catholic Church.  I left her with some additional reasons why she should do this!  As she walked away I said to my companions:  "People like her are exactly why I wanted to start this."
Later her colleague and friend came over to ask for our signature, not knowing we had talked with Saturn.  This young woman was the daughter of the pastor of this same evangelical church, but had walked away from Christianity and was in the process of converting to Islam, which surprised me.  I could discern that she really did not understand Islam and asked her how this fit with her political passions.  Ironically, she said that church and state should be completely separated, and when I attempt to explain how Islam teaches the opposite and contrast that with Jesus' renunciation of an earthly kingdom when Peter tried to protect him, she got agitated and said she wasn't there to argue religion (but made sure she added that we have no idea what Jesus actually said or did because Paul wrote the Gospels, not the original Apostles!).  While she was talking I thought about how the Catholic Church has some of things that she finds attractive about Islam yet still gives her Jesus, but she didn't stick around long enough for me to share.
After having a very meaningful conversation with a guy from Orange Theory who was trying to sign up people for memberships - a non-practicing Protestant who was open to hearing about the Catholic Church - the last long conversation we had was with a young man - Denzel - who refused the rosary because he instead wears an Ankh, which he showed us.
SPSE Team Photo
SPSE Team PhotoHe explained how this was not the same as a Christian cross, but was a symbol of ancient paganism like found in Egypt, and shared how he was into 'spirituality,' which sounded like a confused, eclectic mix of a lot of different beliefs, including reincarnation.  When I asked him whether or not he believed Jesus actually rose from the dead, he started asking more questions about what we believed, and a deep, powerful conversation ensued.  When I explained how Jesus died to satisfy the debt due to sin, he asked very sincerely:  how did we get this debt?  where did it come from?  By the end he was seriously considering the claims of Christ.  I left him with the exhortation that resurrection is a far superior hope than reincarnation.  And then Lucy had the inspiration to suggest that he watch The Chosen and showed him how. We invited him to Mass and he took a Rosary after all!  We all sensed strongly how the Spirit was at work in Denzel's life.
There are many thousands of people like this who live in our community:  spiritually misinformed, confused, or lost, but willing to talk and consider.  But they likely will not come to us, we who have the fullness of Truth must seek after them, following Jesus who "came to seek and save the lost."


Promoting the New Evangelism Ministry at St. Theresa's

May 26, 2024

SPSE Team Photo

Fr. Leandro permitted me to promote the Douglasville SPSE team at Mass this weekend.  This was my first time speaking at Mass.  While I felt confident in the Lord, I felt unsure about what kind of response to expect, since I have sensed a reflexive hesitancy among Catholics to do this kind of evangelism.  In the end, I was very encouraged by the response!  Enough people expressed sincere interest to move forward with outreaches next week and I see the nucleus of a team coming together.

We will start by going to Food Truck Mondays the evening of June 3rd and to the first Wednesday concert at the amphitheater on June 5th, with plans to return each Wednesday evening in June and July (see the calendar for more details).  I would also like to plan a few visits to West Ga Technical College (down the road from the church) and do a July 4th outreach at the annual parade/festival.

Once I see who shows up and their level of experience, we will organize some kind of training to get better equipped along with some team building.

The picture here is from our missions trip to China in 2002 .  My wife and I had just been married a year; we led a team of college students to ostensibly study Chinese at a university.  There we met as many students as we could and invited them to a one-on-one investigative Bible study.  To keep this secret, we would always meet them off campus, and we all had a copy of a Chinese Bible on our PalmPilots (remember those!).  This was by far the best, most fruitful mission trip I ever did as the receptivity to the gospel was tremendous.