Ybor City - 9/24/22
October 8, 2022
This month it cooled down a little, so we had a pretty good crowd on the streets of Ybor City. The Packers were in town to play the Bucs, so there were a lot of fans from up north stopping by. Reuben, Tom, and Pete for joining me. A few encounters:
- The picture above is of a wonderful encounter Pete had with a group of ladies traveling across the country. Tess, Merissa, and Dalia were from the Philippines. They were Catholic and delighted to see our type of evangelization on the streets of the USA. We prayed with them for good weather and a safe trip. I think they got out of Florida just before hurricane Ian hit.
- Catherine had an unusual request. She hasn't been able to find her sister for 4 years. Fortunately, I had a St Anthony medal on the table which she gladly accepted. We then prayed to St. Anthony asking his intercession in finding her sister. It beats praying to find your lost sunglasses.
- We had a few nice encounters with Hondo, on both sides of the street. He was Jewish and while he listened, he would go no further than admit Jesus existed. He did allow us to pray for peace and tranquility in his life as long as we prayed only to the Father.
- Three young ladies, Carla, Crystal, and Patty strolled by with rolling suitcases. They were about to get on a cruise headed right for the hurricane. We all prayed with them together for the safety of their ship.
- This last encounter was the most bizarre I have had in my 6 years of street evangelization. A man walked by our table wearing a wig, bra, bikini bottoms, and high heels. I try not to judge people, but I admit I said a little prayer to Jesus asking for him to just move along, and he did. Or so I thought. Jesus had other plans. About 15 minutes later he returned. He looked at me and asked, "Do you know what my problem with you Catholics is?" Reuben and I looked at each other and we both thought the same thing (something about repressed sexuality). But before we could venture a guess he said, "You Catholics think you can earn your way to heaven." We spent the next 10 minutes debating Sola Fida with this guy quoting St Paul as good as a Baptist minister. I've dealt with this argument before, so I know Reuben and I did a good job articulating true Catholic teaching, and I think we made him understand we don't "earn" heaven, but his mind was made up, faith alone is what saves you. He proudly said, "Look at me. I walk around Ybor looking like a sissy. I'm pretty sure God thinks that's a sin, but I know my faith in Jesus has me saved no matter what I do." At SPSE we don't condemn anyone, so I wished him the best and off he went. He did not want a rosary, but he accepted the pamphlet on Sola Fida and Sola Scriptura.
Come join us if you're in Tampa. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ybor City - 6/18/22
July 12, 2022
It was a very hot day on the streets of Ybor City. The weatherman had told everyone to stay indoors, and they must have listened because foot traffic was light. Thanks to Tom, Pete, Joe, Stacia, and Bob for joining me. A few encounters:
- A worker rolling a cart loaded with food passed by and said to me, "I used to be a Catholic, but now I'm an atheist." I turned to get the pamphlet on returning to the Catholic church, but he was busy and kept moving so I just whispered a prayer. Awhile later he rolled by, and I still had the pamphlet in my pocket, so I was able to stuff it in the straps of his cart and asked him to read it when he had time.
- One young lady was so happy to see us because she had attended the most recent Catholic Answers Convention in California and heard of SPSE there, but she hadn't ever seen us in action.
- As I was packing up, I had an interesting conversation with a young professional man. He told me he was in marketing and had a question about evangelization. He told me a story about being approached by someone who told him he would go to hell if he didn't accept Jesus and asked me what I thought of that as a marketing strategy. I told him that as Catholics we wouldn't prefer to use that method. We prefer to ask questions, find out where someone was at in their faith life and take it from there, centering on the positive aspects of making Jesus the center of one's life.
Come join us if you're in Tampa. E-mail me at email@example.com.
Ybor City - 5/21/22
June 13, 2022
Another great day evangelizing for our Lord Jesus Christ in Ybor City. Here is a sampling of our encounters:
- The picture above is Reuben informing Thiemo of where he might like to attend Mass while he is here in Tampa. Thiemo is a Dutch soldier temporarily stationed at MacDill AFB where he is learning from the Joint Special Operations Command.
- I spoke to Lisa who was upset that she was told the end is near by a guy who seemed "very knowledgeable". I told her that Jesus tells us no one knows the time, and she should concentrate on the things in her life that mattered. About 30 minutes later I was visited by Joseph. He asked us to pray away his demons. He said the tribulation is here, now. We figured out where Lisa got her information. Joseph was a very troubled individual. We prayed over him. I hope he received some peace from the Holy Spirit.
- Dimitrie declined a rosary but asked us to pray for his safe travels. He gladly accepted a St. Christopher medal when I told the story of the patron Saint of travelers.
- When we asked Bradley what he wanted prayers for, he responded "loneliness". He said that was the worst part of homelessness.
- Stacia gave multiple rosaries to a group of exchange students from Spain. They asked for the grace to give back to Spain what they were learning in the US.
- A few people were just starting on their faith journey:
- Robert was having trouble accepting the truth of the Bible. I gave him a few pamphlets on the topic, and we prayed for faith.
- Tathiana asked for prayers that she might accept the existence of God.
- Shannon was in the process of discerning whether or not to become Catholic. We had a long conversation on many topics (liturgy, sacredness, priesthood, the rosary). It was going very well. Then she asked, "There's one thing I have a problem with. Do you guys believe Jesus is God?" Of course, I answered in the affirmative, but you'd think she could have brought that up a little sooner. It's kind of a biggie. I gave her the appropriate SPSE pamphlets on Jesus and the Trinity. I also gave her a 20 questions book from Catholic Answers, "The Real Jesus".
Thanks to all who joined me: Reuben, Pete, Bob, and Stacia. You should come too. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We typically go out the 3rd Saturday of the month.
YBOR CITY - 4/16/22
May 17, 2022
Once again, the Lord blessed us with beautiful weather and many pedestrians during our April outing in Ybor City. Thanks to Mike and Tom for joining me.
The day was so positive. We probably gave out 100 items. Smiles and thanks were plentiful. The Holy spirit was with us.
A few of our many encounters:
- As usual we encountered many homeless. We prayed for shelter, strength, employment, and a new one on me - stop the itching.
- After accepting a rosary, Jude (from Ohio) admitted she did not know how to pray with it. After giving her the instructional pamphlet, she asked for prayers to learn how to pray the rosary. That's kind of circular: praying the rosary to learn how to pray the rosary.
After we packed up, Tom and I shared some pizza and beer. What a nice afternoon. Please join us. Just e-mail me at email@example.com.
Drive By Evangelization - 3/19/22
April 12, 2022
Although we have been back on the streets for a while, the Tampa Chapter of SPSE decided to return to our go-to outing during the dark days of COVID. Reuben, Ted, Bob, Stacie, and I waved, smiled, and held signs indicating Jesus' love for the passing motorists. It has proved to be a wonderfully successful way to evangelize to a lot of people. I bet thousands of cars passed us in those 4 hours. We received many horn toots, thumbs up, waves, and blessings from the motorists.
Thanks to Expert Construction Managers for supplying sandwiches and beer to the weary evangelists.
If you would like to join us, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ybor City - 2/19/22
March 10, 2022
After a trying outing last month, the Holy Spirit blessed us with a wonderful reception in Ybor City last month. Thanks to Mike for joining me. I'll bet we gave out over a hundred items.
We had so many encounters; the entire spectrum of evangelization was covered. We talked to non-believers about the existence of God, to protestants about Catholicism, to new agers about the spirit being a person. The weather was great, and we saw many tourists from the colder climates: Iowa; Queens, NY; New Jersey, Minnesota, Germany, Missouri, Pennsylvania, and more. We ministered to a number of God's children struggling with health issues, homelessness, and addiction. We even gave a rosary to the mailman as he attended to the swift completion of his appointed rounds.
If you are from or visiting Tampa, come help us spread the Gospel message. E-mail me at email@example.com.
Tampa Riverwalk - 1/15/22
February 16, 2022
Once again, the Tampa Chapter of SPSE hit the Riverwalk with the METU. We had a few interesting encounters:
- There were three homeless guys on the bench next to me. You can see one on the right in the picture above. I know they were homeless because they told me. As I was setting up, I attempted polite conversation with them, and one of them was very rude to me for no reason. I've been involved in ministries that help the homeless for many years. I never found them to be rude like that, so I just ignored them and went on about my business. Soon after I finished setting up, the two nicer ones came by for free rosaries and medals. After an hour or so the rude one did too. He was very apologetic. I made it clear he was forgiven and was glad to give him the rosary of his choice. I'd be in a bad mood to if I spent the night on that bench.
- A protestant father, named Kelly, and his son, Jackson (about 6) stopped by and asked me what the rosary was. After explaining that we meditate on the life of Jesus, each bead was a prayer, and dissecting the "Hail Mary", dad said to his son, "We can do this!" So, they took their rosary and "How To" brochure and left happy.
- An adult son was walking his elderly father. They did the SPSE 180. That's when they say, "no thanks" but about 50' later, turn around and come back saying, "We changed our mind, my father would like a rosary." We get that all the time. As we entered into conversation, I found out that dad had been married at Sacred Heart (nearby church in downtown Tampa) in 1964. His wife was long passed, and I could see how tenderly his son cared for him. About an hour later they returned, and the son sheepishly asked for a "How To" brochure. I added the Rosary CD which would help his father even more.
- As usual, there were many tourists strolling by. A shout out goes to Arthur and Christina, who attend Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in New York.
- Finally, there was Judy. She's an 83-year-old (told me later) women who lived in one of the downtown condos. She came up to me and proudly stated, "I used to be Catholic, but now I'm atheist. It's the best thing that ever happened to me." Her biggest complaint was the negativity and guilt first taught by the nuns in grade school ruined her concept of God so much that His existence didn't make sense to her anymore. I tried my "go to" line on her, "It must take a lot of faith to be an atheist in light of all the logical and scientific reasons to believe in God." As I went from first cause, to design, to morality, to after death experiences, and even astrophysical evidence, I saw I was getting nowhere. Then she told me that what really bothered her was me. That I would stand out in public and try to push my beliefs on others. I did respond that SPSE does not push, we offer. She then asked, "Why do you do this?" I said, "Because I love you." I could tell that caught her by surprise. She responded, "You don't love me; you don't even know me." I explained that I love Jesus and he asks me to love others. The best way I could love her was by caring about her and bringing her the good news. We talked more and I have prayed for her a lot since then. I hope I see her again.
Please join us if you are from Tampa or just visiting. We typically evangelize the 3rd Saturday of the month. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.
Tampa Riverwalk - 10/16/21
February 16, 2022
Since the only semi-valid complaint the Park people had against us was the setting up of a table, we switched to the METU (Mobile Evangelical Tactical Unit) for our October outing at the Riverwalk. Once again, the weather was beautiful, and we had a lot of foot traffic. Thanks to Reuben and Mike for joining me.
Suzanne asked for prayers for the conversion of her daughter-in-law because she viewed that as the best way to get her son back involved with the Church.
One request was a little unusual, Camilla & Gerald asked for the repose of their soul. They were (are) still alive, but I guess they were looking forward to the future.
If you live in or are visiting the Tampa area, please join us. We typically evangelize the 3rd Saturday of each month. E-mail me at email@example.com.
Ybor City - 9/25/21
October 13, 2021
The SPSE Tampa Chapter was back spreading the Gospel message in Ybor City under sunny skies on a beautiful fall day. Thanks to Peter, Joe, Reuben & Aaron for joining me on this outing.
Some interesting encounters:
- I had a long talk with Bob. We see him there often soliciting signatures for various petitions. He claims to be Jewish by birth, but is now atheist. He told me I could never get him to be Catholic, but all I was trying to do was instill the possibility of God's existence in him. I have found that certain people won't give an inch while engaged in the conversation. My hope is the seed gets planted and they consider God on their own.
- A group of young women passed by, politely declining our offer of a free rosary. It was apparent two of them were a couple. After they got about 50' away one came back and looked over the pamphlets. She grabbed the one on the Last Four Things - death, judgement, heaven and hell. Interesting.
After we packed up, Aaron and I enjoyed some pizza and beer down the street. Join us by clicking on the "Get Involved" tab above.
Tampa Riverwalk - 8/21/21
September 21, 2021
Another beautiful day to evangelize on Tampa's Riverwalk: great weather, lots of foot traffic, joyful evangelists. We did have a issue when an overzealous park employee tried to make us leave, but after a nice conversation with his boss and the police we were able to stay if we moved out table 10' back (like you see it above). Many thanks to Mike, Jeanne, and Chris for joining me.
Some interesting encounters:
- Nurse Jody stopped by for a rosary. She said she was dealing with many COVID cases, some with sad outcomes. We prayed for strength.
- A group of 6 young ladies walked past declining our invitation to accept a free rosary or medal. As so often happens, after they were 50 feet past, Brianna came running back. She said she has been searching for something and wanted to see what we had. She looked over the brochures and took:
- Proof of the Existence of God from Astrophysics
- Why Be Catholic
- A family (mom, dad, and son) were looking out over the Hillsborough River. Dawn moved over to our table and said they were Catholic and had many rosaries. Then she started to tear up and cry. She explained they had driven from Wisconsin to drop their son, Conner, off to his first year of college. For just such circumstances I had a real nice, heavy, black St. Benedict rosary. I told her to give this to Conner. We then prayed together.
- We often get people who are in a party way. Shelia had obviously hit a few of the bars along the Riverwalk. To my surprise she took a bunch of pamphlets. I hope she read them when she sobered up.
Please come join us. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to get added to our list.
Drive By Evangelization - 5/22/21
May 26, 2021
Look who joined the Tampa Chapter of SPSE, Pope Francis! At a very busy intersection in Brandon the Pope waved and smiled to the passer-byes along with Reuben and myself. This was our go-to outing during the dark days of COVID, but we repeated it because it has proved to be a wonderfully successful way to evangelize to a lot of people. I bet thousands of cars passed us in those 4 hours. We received many horn toots, thumbs up, waves, and blessings from the motorists.
We even had a few pedestrians:
- Shirley road past me on her wheelchair scooter. After she passed me she said, "I know you think you are doing good, but Jesus wasn't God. He never said he was God. Jehovah is God." Then she quoted a couple NT scripture versus. I told her I would pray for all Jehovah's Witnesses. She said she didn't want my prayers. Out came a few more scripture versus. So I asked her where those scripture versus came from. She answered, "the Bible", and that's when I told her the Catholic Church decided on the canon of the scriptures. She huffed and rode off to Reuben's corner. Big mistake. So she tried the same thing on Reuben. He asked if she was a JW and after her affirmative response asked her when her religion was founded. She proudly said "1919". Reuben asked what happened between 33 and 1919. More huffing and scooting. Now i tell this story more for humor. It is not how we typically evangelize, but Shirley asked for a more apologetic approach.
- Jack stopped by and said, "I love what you're doing, man." He asked me my favorite scripture verse, and I referred to Psalm 20:4, but I admit, as a typical Catholic, I couldn't quote the chapter & verse. We continued having a wonderful conversation and he left me with this penny:
Come join us. We typically go out the 3rd Saturday of the month. E-mail me at email@example.com.
Ybor City - 4/17/21
May 13, 2021
With COVID winding down it's almost as if the people have missed us. It seems like we are getting more people stopping by, deeper conversations and less snide comments. At least that's the way it was at our April outing in Ybor City.
As always in Ybor, many of our contacts were homeless. It is so important to recognize Jesus in them, look them in the eye, hold a conversation, and treat them like everyone else. Artavais put it best when he asked that we pray for "situational improvements".
I delivered a rosary to Kim, who was giving COVID shots across the street.
Once again we had someone (Pappy) show up and show us the item (miraculous medal) we had given him over a year ago, around his neck.
Brianna had an important interview that day and asked for prayers. I hope (God willing) she got the job.
Two women stopped by (Evelyn & Rosanna). They were having a women's afternoon out. They both asked for prayers for their husbands. There were issues. So being a husband, who always has issues, I prayed over them, for their husbands, right on the sidewalk.
Thanks to all who came out. It was like I arranged it, Mike had the early shift, Bob and Stacia, had the middle shift (so I could get a slice of pizza and a beer) and Reuben had the late shift.
If you are in Tampa, please join us. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tampa Riverwalk - 3/20/21
April 13, 2021
Another beautiful day to evangelize in Tampa, FL. I am inspired by the teams from up north that have to brave the weather, but mostly I'm glad we don't. Our team had a lot going on so many regulars couldn't make it. We were down to just three, Stacia, Bob and I, but what we lacked in quantity, we made up in quality. Judge for yourself with our many interactions:
- First off as I just finished setting up Deacon Mike stops by from my Parish (St. Stephen). He just happened to be visiting the Riverwalk with his wife, and it was nice to be able to show him what we do.
- Carol stopped by and thanked me for the rosary I gave her last year at this same spot. She still uses it. If you do this long enough you get these often.
- A young lady named Jolene came forward with an amazed look on her face. She said she had not been practicing her faith lately. Then she had a dream last night of mother Mary and this morning she sees our stand with all the rosaries laid out. That was enough of a sign for her. I told her about daily confession at Sacred Heart up the street a few blocks and off she went.
- I'll bet all street evangelists will tell you this is the response they hear most often when offering a rosary or medal, "No thanks, I'm good." Well I got one of them from an African American fellow as he walked by. He went out of sight about 100 yards away before I noticed he was walking back towards our table. He said the picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe reminded him of the Black Madonna that he used to have a devotion over. He too had fallen away, but he was eager to get reacquainted with our Blessed Mother and took a rosary. I guess he wasn't "good" without it.
- The Tampa Bay Lightning hockey team was playing the Chicago Blackhawks that afternoon. Many people had on jerseys from both teams. One young man named Landon stopped by while drinking a beer. (A good sign to convince someone to be Catholic.) He told us he was discerning the Catholic faith. He was Methodist and felt his faith had recently gone astray. As he told us his story he got emotional. We could tell he was searching. Stacia spoke of her love for the Eucharist, and I addressed his concerns about flip-flopping doctrine not being an issue because of the Holy Spirit's guidance of the Magisterium. We promised to get him in touch with my favorite Chicago evangelist, Mark.
- Finally, there was a mother, June, who wanted a medal for her daughter who was trying to get pregnant. I offered, Jesus Divine Mercy... No, St. Christopher... No, St. Joseph... No, Miraculous Medal... maybe..., my last offering: St. Teresa BINGO! She started to cry because that was her daughter's name.
Once again, please join us if you can. E-mail me at email@example.com. If you cannot, please pray for us. That's just as important.
Ybor City - 2/20/21
March 16, 2021
Everything is awesome, everything is cool when you're part of a team. Everything is awesome when you're living out a dream.
That's the feeling the Tampa Chapter has had these last few months now that we're back on the streets. This outing included Mike, Reuben, Stacia, Bob and a special appearance from St Paul Street Evangelization's 's own Associate Director of Teams, Beth Schuele and her husband Tim.
As you can see from the picture above, the weather was great. Way better than Detroit. Street traffic was brisk with many people stopping by to talk, accept rosaries, medals, and pamphlets.
- We had a number of people who wanted to return to the church: Sigrid, Angelica, Chris & Katlin (in RCIA) and Robin's 2 sons. We were able to steer them to the Parish in their area.
- As always in Ybor, there were the homeless:
- Joe didn't believe in prayer. I tried to move him by asking questions and giving witness. I got a smile though.
- David asked for prayers against evil. The homeless community is sometimes their own worst enemy as they prey on each other.
- Madelyn asked for prayers for everyone in her shelter.
- Shannon, who remembered us from a year ago, asked God to help her find an apartment.
- There were five students from USF's Catholic Student Union who were very pleased to see our table and ministry in action. We were just about to organize an outing on campus when COVID hit last year.
- There were many opportunities to pray with people. It was good to see Beth in action. We all learned a lot from such a dedicated daughter of God.
- Finally we got to see the opposite of "non-confrontational" street evangelization when this guy showed up with his bull horn and threats of damnation. I believe his heart is in the right place, I'm just glad SPSE never uses those tactics.
If you live in or are visiting the Tampa area, come join us on the 3rd Saturday of the month. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tampa Riverwalk - 1/16/21
February 11, 2021
It was such a blessing to be back on the streets again on a cool winter day here in sunny Florida. This was our first time doing face to face evangelization since COVID 19 first reared it's ugly head, and it couldn't have gone any better. Not only did the weather cooperate, but we had a lot of foot traffic both with and without masks. We had ours on, over the nose, under the nose or hanging under our chin depending on who was being evangelized. No one gave us negative feedback concerning being out in public during the pandemic.
We had a fine turnout from our team (regulars - Mike, Reuben, Stacia, Bob, Vic; newbie from Jesuit HS - Jorel; and special guest from the Chicago NS Team: Mark Kollar). Everyone had their share of great interactions:
- Above is a picture of Mark performing a healing on Filipe's foot. He went from complaining of his inability to walk without pain to walking with a big smile on his face.
- After seeing the many rosaries on our table, Nancy came up to me and said she used to pray the rosary with her mom. I offered her one for her mom, and she broke down crying since her mom had recently passed away. (Way to go, Bill.) We immediately said prayers for the repose of Yolanda's soul.
- One unusual request came from Jacob, who asked for the strength to resist temptation "entirely".
- Adeliese asked Jorel to pray for her son who was discerning the priesthood. What a blessing to have a young man on our Team.
- This happened a few times: One of the guys would offer a medal/rosary to a passerby who would politely decline. Not twenty feet further down the sidewalk Stacia would offer the same item to the same person and they would end up engaging in prayer and conversation. I'll be the first to admit women seem to be more approachable than men.
- A number of visitors asked where they might attend Mass tomorrow. Evidently there was a girls HS volleyball tournament nearby and some of the HSs were Catholic.
A heartfelt thanks goes out to all who evangelized with me that wonderful day. Regardless of what COVID does, the Tampa SPSE Team is going back out to the streets.
Christmas Magnets at the Shopping Center - 12/11/20
January 5, 2021
On a beautiful Florida winter evening Reuben, Mike, Richard and I handed out about 75 Christmas magnets at the local Publix shopping center. No issues with security or the store owners. When we finished, we followed it up with beers and bar food at Beef's.
Signs in North Tampa - 9/19/20
October 15, 2020
The COVID-19 numbers here in the Tampa Bay area still keep us from setting up a table for personal interaction, so once again we decided to show the love of Christ from a safe distance with our signage. This time we chose another section of Tampa - the intersection of N Dale Mabry and Fletcher. It was a bit hot, but we had a great turnout with four newbies: Peter, Julie, John & Kathy, and some regulars (Richard, Joe, Mike and I). The traffic moved at a greater rate of speed here than in our previous location, but we still had a fruitful experience.
We had a lot of horn toots and thumbs up. Our signs and attitude were all positive. We even helped out with a fender bender.
As we waved our signage, we were approached by an ex-Catholic evangelical Christian. She was very surprised when she got the response to her question, "What church do you belong to?" I'm sure she expected the local mega-church, and the last thing she expected was Saint anyone. She was from "up north" I think NY, and told us she left the Church because there was no "spirit" in the parishes she tried. We informed her that was not the case here in the Tampa area as our group came from several parishes to which we all attested were filled with the Spirit. She then made charges against Pope Francis for allowing the possibility of atheists ever being saved. After trying to explain the teaching from Vatican II on the topic, with little success, I deflected the issue by pointing out we should concentrate on our salvation and not judge who will be damned.
At this point, due to the many Bible quotes she used on salvation, I went to John Chapter 6 where "unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you." I pointed out that this can only happen in a Catholic Mass. She was moved, I think she remembered, and she promised to "do more research" on the topic.
I'm not sure when we will resume normal table-encounter activities. We're trying to be sensitive to those at risk. Stay tuned for our next event. If you're not already on our list, and would like to join in on the fun, please e-mail me at email@example.com.
Signs in Brandon II - 8/15/20
August 17, 2020
Once again, due to the rise in cases of COVID-19 here in the Tampa Bay area, we decided to show the love of Christ from a safe distance with our signage. The day was beautiful as was our reception by the motorists of this very busy intersection. Many thanks to a great turnout by regulars Mike, Richard, Reuben, Joe, Sarah and I; with a special shoutout to newcomers Stacia and Bob.
In the words of Mike L, one of our most regular evangelists:
I thought today was a great effort for Jesus.
- We showed the name of Jesus to thousands of drivers who saw our signs and might not of thought of Him at all today
- We most certainly had some impact on the spiritual thoughts of some people
- I believe that ones who honked were not only acknowledging Jesus but very glad to see people unafraid to share their Christianity
- I get a real sense of unity in Christ when we connect with the people (honking or waving)
In many ways I think we accomplish a lot in those few hours.
I'm not sure when we will resume normal table-encounter activities. We're trying to be sensitive to those at risk. Stay tuned for our next event. If you're not already on our list, and would like to join in on the fun, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Signs & Smiles at a Busy Brandon Street - 6/20/20
June 26, 2020
We're back... Praise be to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! Viva Christo Rey!
In keeping with Diocesan and local restrictions the Tampa Chapter suspended operations from March to May. But boy did we come back with a BANG in June. Six of us (Mike, Richard, Joe, Sarah, Dorothy and Bill) showed up at a very busy intersection in suburban Brandon; near numerous shopping centers and restaurants. We started at 10am and kept waving and smiling until 2pm. Logistics were perfect: easy parking and lots of traffic. Best of all waving signs avoided any close contact concerns we had with resuming our normal table activities.
What we did was spread out to all 4 corners of the intersection and held up our signs, waving and smiling at the people in the cars driving by. We were met with horn toots, thumbs up, rolled down windows thanking us, praising Jesus and all other manner of support. It was such a positive experience at a time when I think the people needed one.
Some great stories:
- Mike has been doing this since we started in 2016. I never saw him so excited. As he crossed the street when he finally took a break he yelled to me, "Jesus is with us, he's here!"
- I did bring a chair and placed it on the grass near the sidewalk. It was technically the property of the "First Watch" restaurant. We used it as a central location for our extra signs and small coolers. I knew they'd have the right to tell us to get off their property, but I figured if that happens, I'd just move the chair 4' to resolve the issue. Well "First Watch" was the best. Not only did they let us keep our setup, but they sent out a tray of cold smoothie drinks and told us how much they appreciated what we were doing.
- A couple actually parked their car and came over to tell us how much they appreciated our activity.
- The signs:
- Jesus saves
- Got Jesus?
- Love like Jesus
- God loves you
- Jesus is my superhero
- Pray for those who persecute you
Well we had such a good experience, we all agreed we should keep this activity as part of our regular rotation after the pandemic is over.
If you live in or visit the Tampa area, please come evangelize with us. We typically do the 3rd Saturday of each month. To find out what we're up to e-mail me: email@example.com
Tampa Riverwalk - 2/15/20
June 26, 2020
We had a typically wonderful afternoon evangelizing at the Riverwalk on a sunny day. Many people interacted with the 6 evangelists present. We gave away over 50 rosaries and about the same number of medals.
Please join us by sending an e-mail to the link below.
Ybor City - 1/18/20
February 4, 2020
God's abundant blessings were with us as we hit the streets of Ybor City:
- The weather was perfect
- We were joined by Father Tim
- We had a great turnout: Reuben, Richard, Mike, Suzann, Gretchen, Bob, Fr. Tim, Shawn & I
- We gave away many rosaries, medals, and pamphlets
- We had many fruitful conversations
Fr. Tim was a natural. He engaged the pedestrians with a big smile and a greeting. As I stood off to the side I noticed almost everyone was initially surprised. Not so much that he was there, but that he made himself so approachable by being so friendly. I'd say everyone returned his greeting with a smile and a pleasant response. Then there were those who stayed and talked with Fr. Tim. As an active Catholic we see our priests all the time, and take their holiness for granted. Not so with his audience in Ybor City. The people who asked for his blessing, everyone of them, was as reverent as a child receiving their First Communion. They knew (protestants, ex-Catholics, New Agers, homeless) that they were in the presence of a holy man.
We had a lot of interaction with the homeless, asking for prayers of safety. Often they prey on each other. We gave away more pamphlets than we normally do. Some to Catholics to help with a family member or friend, and some to potential converts.
One last thing: Check out the picture below. That was not contrived or altered. That's the Holy Spirit shining his graces on a holy man.
Come join us - e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Christmas Magnets at the Mall - 12/6/19
December 21, 2019
What do seven evangelists do after they get kicked out of the mall for trying to put Christ back in Christmas? They have a few beers (or in Mike's case, an ice cream soda).
Last Christmas worked so well. We synchronized our watches and stationed ourselves at the exits of the Brandon Mall. At precisely 6:30 we approached only those shoppers leaving the mall. As always with SPSE we weren't pushy. We just asked, "Would you like to help remind everyone to keep Christ in Christmas by placing one of these free magnets on your car?" We got more yeses to this than rosaries on a normal outing. We handed out until we ran out in about 90 minutes.
This year we did the same thing expecting the same result. We even had a few newbies, Chris and Eliseo, joining Reuben, Richard, Mike, Luis and I. We distributed our magnets (and Nativity coloring books for the kids) and split up in groups of 2 or 3.
Ouch. Mall Cop caught Reuben about 30 minutes into the evening. (He's the suspicious looking guy on the left.) The other teams at the other entrances kept evangelizing. I saw Chris praying with a women when she started to cry as he comforted her. Eliseo met a Hispanic who admitted he hadn't been to Mass in awhile. Eliseo got his number and made arrangements to take him to one of the local Spanish Masses.
By about the hour mark, Mall Cop drove up in his Prius with the green lights flashing. He sauntered up to Chris and I, saying, "I thought I told you to leave." "Not us", we replied. Funny, he didn't look anything like Barney Fife. It did no good to explain we were not charging or accepting money. So we put our materials away and celebrated what success we did have with some burgers, onion rings, wings, fries and beer.
Come join us for our next outing. One never knows what will happen.
MacDill AFB - Our Lady of the Bay Catholic Community - 10/13/19
December 1, 2019
For one of our October activities we were asked to give a presentation on evangelization to the students and adults from Our Lady of the Bay Community at MacDill AFB. Reuben and I used our version of "Ten Ways to Be a Better Evangelist" as presented in one of the many great videos found on the St Paul School of Evangelization section of our website. There were over a dozen participants including the Pastor, Fr. Martin. They also asked us to discuss how we fit our vocation as evangelists into our busy lives. Here's the talk - feel free to use it:
10 Ways to Be a Better Evangelist
1. Be holy – RP
a. 1 Peter 1: 15-16 the call to holiness
b. What it means to be holy – to be set apart for God
2. Know the basics – RP
a. Saved by Grace a free gift from God
b. The Sacraments are moments of grace
c. Mark 12: 30-31 The Commandments as summarized by Jesus
3. Love the people you evangelize – RP
a. What is love – an act of the will not a feeling
b. Desiring someone’s good and help them attain it – in short get them to heaven
c. Ways to demonstrate love – be present to them, listen to their story, affirm them
4. Exude joy – RP
a. What is joy - Catholic joy is a spirit or disposition of inner peace, strength, hope, confidence, and determination that comes from experiencing God’s love for us in spite of our sins, selfishness, and mistakes
b. John 15: 11 – 15 – Jesus talked about joy
5. Give away rosaries and miraculous medals – RP
a. Gifts from heaven – Rosary & Miraculous medals
b. Graces attributed to these sacramentals - conduits of grace
6. Learn some Bible verses – BB
a. MT 16 – Jesus asks who do people say I am… Who do you say… Peter rock, hell not prevail
b. JN 20 – After Jesus rose from the dead he appeared to the apostles, “peace, breathed the HS on them and said sins forgiven, sins retained. Apostolic progression.
7. Proclaim the Gospel – BB (Kerygma)
1. The Plan:
a. Big picture: God created the world and man. They are good.
b. More personal: God loves you and has a plan for your life. It is good.
2. The Bad News:
a. Big picture: Evil and sin entered the world through our first parents. This sin separates mankind from God.
b. More personal: Since we are all sinners, we are separated from God because of our sin.
3. The Good News: Jesus became man, died for our sins and rose again so that we could experience God’s love and plan for our life.
4. The invitation: Jesus personally invites us to
b. Baptism (or Reconciliation)
5. Jesus left us with the gift of the Holy Spirit
HAND OUT CARDS - PAIR UP – DELIVER THE GOSPEL
8. Pray out loud with people – BB - ACTS
PAIR UP – PRAY OVER ONE ANOTHER
9. Give people “one good reason” – BB
a. Atheist > OGR why I believe in God
b. Non-Christian > OGR why I believe Jesus Christ is God
c. Non-Catholic Christian > OGR why I’m Catholic
d. Lukewarm Catholic > OGR why I attend Mass
10. Things to avoid - BB
a. Do not talk more than you listen
b. Do not judge, outwardly or inwardly
c. Do not guilt them, invite them
d. Do not assume, you don’t know
e. Do not speak of consequences
f. Do not convince, inform
g. Do not argue, back off
h. Do not tell them what to do, tell them what you do
How Reuben balances the demands of secular life, his vocation, and the call to evangelize – RP
• Follow the Matthew Kelly four marks of a Dynamic Catholic
How Bill balances the demands of secular life, his vocation, and the call to evangelize – BB
• Know your present vocation
• Say No
• Do what you like
• Do what you’re good at
Ballast Point Park - 9/21/19
October 10, 2019
For September we tried a new location in Tampa, Ballast Point Park. Reuben, Suzanne, Joe and I spent a wonderful day at this beautiful bayside park with a great pier. The park was bustling, but the traffic near our table was light. so we decided to do sorties around the playgrounds and pier to get the interaction we needed to evangelize.
Some of our encounters:
- Essence was a student at a Catholic HS, but was not herself Catholic. She was reading her Bible, but did not want a rosary. She at first declined a Miraculous Medal too, but after hearing the story she changed her mind and took one.
- Suzanne talked to Frank who was very distraught over separation from his family. She prayed with him for his 2 young daughters.
- She also prayed with Carlos for a successful recovery of open heart surgery.
- Here's a switch. One woman approached me saying she was moving to a smaller house and had a number of crucifixes to give us. I promised them good homes. Hopefully she will follow through.
- After receiving a MM, one young women told us, "You don't know how much this means to me. God brought you to me." She explained she was going through some rough times and just lost the cross she always wore around her neck.
So count Ballast Point Park as a relaxing day of evangelization, if not a busy one.
Clearwater Beach - 7/22/19
October 10, 2019
This past June I attended Immersion 2019, a evangelical training event, put on by the "home office" of SPSE in Detroit. By far the best part of the program was meeting and interacting with fellow evangelists from around the country. One of the best was Mark Kollar, from Chicago.
So in July Mark had reason to be in Florida and he just had to see what sunshine state evangelization was like. He loved it! But even more, he inspired us. We met at Clearwater Beach on a Monday just before noon. It was a gorgeous day with enough breeze and cloud cover to allow us to stay for hours. Mark was blown away by all the interactions we had. I guess people on vacation at the beach are more friendly than people going to work in Chicago. Go figure.
So then Mark starts healing. We're talking to a young couple and Mark asks the young man what's wrong. He says I'm trying to stop smoking. So Mark asks if we can heal him. Mark tells me to put my hands on the kid's back. Mark places his hands on his chest and head and starts praying. He asks the guy if he feels anything; he says no. Mark says that it takes time and we get back to praying. After a minute or three the kid starts coughing like crazy. He says stop, it hurts. Mark drives on. By the time we finished the young man was so thankful. He admitted something good happened to him. He threw away his lighter if that means anything.
We also prayed over a young girl who had epilepsy, and had many great conversations with people from PA, NC, FL, GA, OH, IL and more. Mark - you're welcome to join the Tampa Chapter of SPSE anytime!
So are you. Please e-mail me at email@example.com for more information.
Tampa Riverwalk at Night - 8/17/19
September 3, 2019
This was our first night time visit to the Tampa Riverwalk. Although we had a slight drizzle, the evening was a great success as we had many opportunities to bring Jesus Christ into the minds of the people walking the Riverwalk.
Sometimes the most interesting part of evangelization is the surprise. Scott thought he was just taking his kids out for some exercise, but they ended up selecting rosaries, praying and discussing the big questions in life with someone they just met, but showed genuine care. David and his four children, prayed for a permanent home instead of the shelters in which they have been forced to stay.
The Tampa SPSE Chapter had a great turnout. Bob and Gretchen joined us for the first time, along with Richard, Mike, Suzanne, Joe, Sarah and myself. We were very busy when we first arrived at 5pm, but then by 6pm the crowd thinned as people got busy eating supper. So that gave us time to visit with each other and sure enough, by 7pm a lot of people visited our table until it got dark at 8:30.
If you want to join us, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We have fun.
Ybor City at Night – 6/22/19
August 7, 2019
For June we decided to try Ybor City but switched to the night (5:30 - 9pm) to avoid the heat and the loud, hate filled group we encountered in January.
The evening was a resounding success. The foot traffic was high and we encountered about 100 individuals, received many prayer requests and handed out many rosaries, medals and pamphlets. In the picture above I am telling the story of the miraculous medal to some non-Catholic teenagers. They loved hearing about the angel, and identified with St. Catherine as they enthusiastically placed their medals over their heads.
We also had a lengthy conversation with a Baptist preacher who emphasized literal based creationism as his way of "debunking" those who believe science over the Bible. We explained to him that as Catholics, we have no such issues since we know that the Book of Genesis was never intended to be a scientific explanation of how God created the world. We tried to avoid his "scientific" arguments for a 6,000 year old earth by pointing out our salvation has nothing to do with the age of the earth, but that's where his focus remained.
There was also a young lady who had a tiny "aha" moment. She gave the typical "I'm good" response to our offer of a rosary, and then after she had traveled 20 paces down the sidewalk, something grabbed her, made her turn around and request a rosary. She had no idea what they were, but listened to our teaching and took the instruction pamphlet. May the Holy spirit take over from there.
Please join in on the fun by emailing me at email@example.com.
Tampa Riverwalk – 5/18/19
August 7, 2019
It was another beautiful day at the Riverwalk. Richard and Mike joined me for about 5 hours of evangelizing the busy, mostly worldly citizens of downtown Tampa.
We spoke to Omar, who wanted us to pray that he have the fortitude to return to the Catholic church. We informed him of Sacred Heart Parish downtown that has confessions everyday except Sunday.
Karen and Les were in Tampa to see if they’d like to move there. What’s interesting was their criteria was finding a Parish they liked that had the Tridentine Mass.
Many others asked for prayers of health and clarity. All in all it was a wonderful day.
Come join us by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tampa Chapter at Yankee Spring Training Game – 3/16/19
August 7, 2019
We had another successful day evangelizing on the 3rd Saturday in March. We set up in the parking area servicing the Yankee’s Spring Training Game against the Blue Jays. It was a split squad game, so it had good attendance, which for us made a lot of traffic. We did have many good encounters, but the people were mostly interested in getting to their seats, so second level conversations were few.
What worked good was using the METU (Mobile Evangelical Tactical Unit) instead of setting up the table. We parked it by a homeless artist, “Zebra”, selling pictures of Yankee players. He took a rosary and spoke to us at length about God, not so much Jesus.
I neglected to take pictures, sorry about that.
Tampa Riverwalk 2/16/19
August 7, 2019
Oh what a beautiful day! In Tampa, FL God blesses us with beautiful 70 degree sunny weather in February. What better to do than get outside and spread the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
It is so pleasant on the Riverwalk. Everyone is in a good mood, so many people stopped by. We must have given out 100 rosaries/medals and had many meaningful conversations. Seeds were planted. We had two new evangelists, George (originally from Lebanon) and Shohreh (originally from Iraq) join our regulars, Mike, Richard, Reuben and I.
If you live or are visiting the Tampa area, please consider joining us. We usually do something the third Saturday each month. E-mail me at email@example.com to get added to our list. I only send out two e-mails a month:
- First e-mail for us to decide where to go this month.
- Second e-mail announces the decision and logistics on where and when.
Ybor City 1/19/19
August 7, 2019
Ybor City is kind of like the Bourbon Street of Tampa; however, it’s a great place to evangelize. There is always a lot of foot traffic, and the people are usually not too busy to stop and talk. So that’s where we chose to set up at our last outing. We always set up at a great spot in front of a vacant lot.
There was a wonderful start to the day. A young woman, named Danielle, stopped by. She said she was a protestant who attended her first Catholic Mass this past Christmas. She admitted it was beautiful and her curiosity about becoming Catholic has started. We discussed RCIA but before I could get into the specifics she started to cry. She sobbed about not deserving God’s love and more I couldn’t understand, so with trepidation, I just placed my arm around her and we prayed until she composed herself. She asked for prayers to bring her closer to God in her brokenness. She accepted a rosary and many pamphlets about becoming Catholic, Sola Scriptura and Faith Alone.
Then everything changed. While I was still by myself, a van pulled up with about a dozen members from the Black Hebrew Israelites. They unloaded multiple tables, a stage, and speakers. Some of their items were placed right in front of my table.
Then they started their hate speech over a very loud microphone. I’ve never really bought into the idea of hate speech thinking it was just free speech to which you disagreed. Boy was I wrong. They openly hate white people, Jews, Asians, Catholics, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus. They even hate continental Africans, the current African American leaders, and Martin Luther King Jr. They do this very unabashedly and referred to silent me directly as a homosexual pedophile.
Finally, some of my brother and sister evangelists showed up. We decided we would not put up with this abuse anymore, so we moved across the street. Sometimes discretion is the better part of valor.
We all know that God can show us the good when we see only bad, and this is what He did. Most of the pedestrians were just as uncomfortable with the platform of the Black Hebrew Israelites as we were, and most of them did what we did. They crossed the street to get away from the hate and ended up right at our table of love. We had way more traffic than normal.
Except for the noise from across the street, the rest of the day went as good as it ever has. We evangelized from 11:30 to 6:00. I was joined by first timers Suzanne, Sharon and Betty; Paul from the Lakeland Chapter, and my stalwarts, Richard and Mike.
Then we had one of those encounters that keeps us coming back out. I noticed a young guy who looked familiar. He was a Scientologist I encountered back on November 2016, at the Ybor City Cigar Festival. Here’s what I posted about him:
The Scientologists (who had a table around the block) stopped by. They were taken aback when we offered them a rosary saying they thought Catholics hated them. We showed them love, gave them a rosary and showed them how to use it.
I noticed Paul approach this guy, so I let it play out. Here’s Paul’s report:
There was a young man who was escorting a young gal. They had walked past our booth a couple of times. They were both wearing shirts with Scientology written on them. They both stated that Scientology accepted all religions. I told them that Christ said that He was the only way, truth and life and that no man comes to the Father but through Him. The young man said that he had been attending mass. I asked him if he was confirmed, and he did not know what that was all about. So, I shared with him the importance of going to RCIA and getting the proper knowledge of the faith. I encouraged them both in the faith and to seek after the pearl of great price and to forsake all other things. She said she appreciated all that I had shared.
The seed that was planted in 2016, continues to grow, if even ever so slightly.
Another reoccurring encounter that never ceases to amaze me was the one Sharon had with Janette. Janette appeared to be homeless or at least not very well off. We gave her multiple rosaries, crucifixes and medals for her and her family. When we asked her how we could pray for her, she replied, “prayers of thanksgiving because I’m so blessed”. Sharon gave her a big hug.
Some more highlights:
• We handed out over 75 rosaries and 50 medals. The large Miraculous Medals were very popular.
• More pamphlets were taken than normal.
• We wrote down 28 prayer requests.
• We had many “second level” conversations where we get past talking about the rosary or medal and discuss that person’s faith in God (or lack thereof).
• Paul also had a chance to evangelize a Messianic Christian by encouraging him to frequent Sacred Heart Parish (downtown).
• We had many Catholics give us encouragement.
From the streets of Ybor City, the Tampa Chapter of St. Paul Street Evangelization wishes you all the Peace of Christ.
Tampa Riverwalk 9/15/18
August 7, 2019
It was another hot day in Tampa. We chose to evangelize the Riverwalk again, but in a different location. This time we chose MacDill Park. We found a beautiful spot under a tree. Foot traffic was good, but a lot of potential customers are whizzing by on bikes, skateboards, or jogging and don’t want to stop. We still gave out many rosaries and medals. We recently purchased a batch of St. Christopher medals because of the many requests for them.
We had three new evangelists with us that day, Joe, Sarah and Neil (see picture).
One women came up to us crying. She was from out of town and staying at a nearby hotel. Melissa told us that she had been a Catholic all her life. She attended Catholic grade school, high school and college, but she had fallen away from the Church. Evidently, our table made her realize her mistake. We prayed over Melissa, urging her to return to the Sacraments and Mass. I trust the Holy Spirit to see that through.
We stayed from about 10:30am to 3:30pm. With different evangelists showing up at different times. Thanks to our stalwarts: Reuben, Richard and Mike.
Ybor City 7/20/18
August 7, 2019
Ybor City is a great place to evangelize. There is always a lot of foot traffic, and the people are usually not too busy to stop and talk. This Saturday was no different. We did the afternoon. It was hot, but the shade from the buildings made it bearable.
Most of our customers were pleasant casual conversations. Catholics were surprised to see us evangelizing in public. Baptists were glad to hear we didn’t “worship” our Blessed Mother, and when we explained the Hail Mary (first half scripture, second half asking for intercession) most were glad to take a rosary and give it a try.
In the picture you can see Teresa selling crosses and such made from weaving palm leaves off to our left. During one of our conversations she told me she was a Native American and she believed in one God, but not necessarily the Christian God. Then when the Scientologists walked by she leaned over to me and said, “I’d rather be a Catholic than one of them”. I had to laugh to myself. Later on, I overpaid for one of her crosses and she started to cry.
Another interesting encounter occurred while I was packing up. I had laminated and placed 3 posters of famous Catholic scientists (Sr. Mary Kenneth Keller, Fr. Georges Lemaitre, Friar Gregor Mendel) that I got from Word on Fire. When I looked up, I saw three young men reading the posters. They told me they thought the Church was “against” science. It allowed me a great opening to point out faith and science are not at odds at all. They both are invaluable ways to understand the physical and metaphysical. I gave them the SPSE pamphlet on the Existence of God through Astrophysics.
If you want to evangelize your Catholic faith on the streets of Tampa, just e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tampa Convention Center Home Show 8/19/17
August 7, 2019
We choose places where we believe there will be a lot of foot traffic and a good place to set up. The Tampa convention Center has a nice wide sidewalk in front and we figured the Home show would provide the foot traffic. Well the foot traffic was less than we hoped. Some of the vendors said there were more vendors then visitors. But that just left us more time to talk to the “customers” we did have.
Reuben, Mike and I took the METU and hung out near the entrance. We handed out about 100 rosaries and medals. Usually with a rosary pamphlet or CD. We also handed out our first “Pocket Gospel” which we got from the USCCB website.
- A group of four Catholic mothers and their many children. I think three were studying for their first communion, so giving them a nice rosary was special. Then one of the mom’s asked for a pocket Gospel, which she gave to her daughter.
- One non-Catholic gentlemen asked why not just pray to Jesus. When I explained to him the Communion of Saints he accepted the rosary, pamphlet and CD with joy.
- A guy drove by as we were leaving and he asked me to help him get his wheelchair out of his car. As I did, I offered him a rosary. He said “not to a Jew-boy like me!” His words, not mine. So I pointed out Jesus was a Jew and he said he does pray to Jesus sometimes. Then he taught me one of his Jewish prayers, “Ah-doe-NAI ah-TA ba-ROOKH”. Which is akin to The Lord Be with You.
If you are in Tampa and would like to join us, just e-mail me at email@example.com
Pigz In Z’Hills BBQ and Blues Festival 1/21/17
August 7, 2019
The Holy Spirit was alive and well at the Pigz In Z’Hills BBQ & Blues Fesival. We had a fantastic turnout. Richard & I did the early shift and Reuben, Vic and Vic’s daughter took over after that.
Some of the highlights:
- We handed out probably 75 rosaries and 100 medals. The miraculous medals were very popular.
- We wrote down 47 prayer requests.
- We had many conversations short and long.
- We prayed over two sisters whose father just got diagnosed with cancer. Very emotional.
- One lady declined a rosary and walked off. A half hour later she came back and told us how great her experience was at a Catholic Mass. She ended up with a rosary and a medal.
- An Episcopalian women was very interested in the rosary and our conversation. She said she was in our area to get some water, but after our meeting she said she was meant to see us. We made her day. Richard told her she made our day.
- Nothing negative happened. But we were tasked with defending the concept of a “just war” with a gentlemen who went so far as to say that a world controlled by the Nazis may have been a good thing.
We also collected a prayer request list. It has ~47 requests – perfect for an intentional rosary. This is what we promised the customers, so we printed out the list and as we say a rosary we read off one intention before we say each Hail Mary.