Team Banner Image

[Data not found]

Country: [Data not found]
State or province: [Data not found]

[Data not found]
[Data not found]

Team Badges

Recent Blog Posts

Refections on Two Encounters

September 16, 2019

As I continue to organize the local Tyler street evangelization team, I have taken two opportunities to go onto the streets with the Dallas team. There is a great group of people in Dallas and they have given me some great advice regarding set up/organizational of the SPSE team. But I have also had some amazing encounters with people through this evangelization ministry. This past weekend when I went out with the Dallas team to evangelize, I had two interesting encounters with young “atheists”, and I wanted to share some reflections.

First Encounter: I met a young man who was in his early to mid-twenties. He was from Korea. He works in cellular phone repair. He came to our table because he saw that we were giving something away. When he was looking at the rosaries, I asked if he was Catholic. He said that he did not believe in God. The more we conversed I discovered that he did not believe in God because he had “just never really thought about whether or not there was a God”. In response to my other questions, some of his replies were “I have never really thought about the purpose of life or why we are here”, and he “never gave much thought to the after-life and just figured we died and that was it”. We had a discussion that lasted at least 15 minutes or so. He took some pamphlets and commented that I had given him some things to think about.

It is hard for me, someone who grew up Catholic with religion always an integral part of my life, to imagine living a life without giving any thought to God. I cannot fathom living a life without a purpose or meaning. This was my first encounter with this form of atheism, but I will not be shocked to meet many more people like this young man in our modern culture. Our battle is no longer with a “pagan” culture as it was 2000+ years ago because at least in the pagan cultures of the past there were some notion of gods and realities beyond the material world, despite how misguided their viewpoints were. But our secular culture today is one that is attempting, and in this young man’s case as I am sure with others succeeding, to remove God and the supernatural completely from the world.

The other issue with the modern culture is that people are losing the reality that we are all a part of a story. As Christians we understand that this story is God’s plan of salvation. From the beginning of time to the present, all of humanity are characters in this story. As with any story, there is also a purpose and meaning for each of the characters. But today, people are losing this reality. People fail to see the meaning and purpose of life, they fail to recognize God and His Providence, and they fail to see how we are all connected. The result of this is that people fall into hopelessness and despair. With no meaning of life, what is the point of suffering? With no purpose for our life and no goal, then why love and care for others? Why not be selfish and have a utilitarian attitude (the idea that someone’s worth is in how much they can be useful to society)?

With this young man, I also just wonder about those around him in his life. In his day to day life, at home, with friends, in various forms of entertainment, how is it that he has not encountered God or at least something that made him question the existence of God? Those around him either share his indifference or they are not living in such a way that Christ is made evident. This reminds me to be a living witness to Christ every moment. Pray and make the sign of the cross publicly, wear a crucifix, tell people “God bless you”, and do whatever I can to evangelize not only in words but in actions. You never know who could be inspired.

I do not know how much my short conversation impacted this young man but I truly hope that my questions will ignite that inner desire for God that exists within each and every one of us. Living a life without God is living in an illusion. It only leads to more and more disorientation and confusion. Not seeing the story of God’s plan of salvation that we are all a part of will only lead to despair and hopelessness. We have to continue to share the truth of God with others because it is only in this that we can give hope and truth to a world where these are desperately needed.

Second Encounter: I met a young girl who was 15 years old. She was walking in the park with her mother. Her mother was Catholic but she stated that she was an “atheist”. She stated that she no longer believed in God. She said that she just knew there was no God. She held the view that we are the same as the animals without any difference. She did admit that murder of other people was wrong, but she also said that she was a vegan because she did not believe in killing any type of animals.  She admitted that there was morality but it was only because society determined what was right or wrong. Morality, to her, could change depending on the society one lived in. We spoke for 10 minutes or so. During this time I did bring up Pascal’s wager with her. With this form of argument, I stated that either God exists or He does not exist. Only one of us can be right. (She agreed with this.) Then I explained that if she is right and God does not exist, then there is no harm in believing or not believing in God. We would both just die and that would be the end of each of us. However, if I am right and she is wrong (God does exist), then we would have a problem. The fact that she does not believe in God, there would be consequences for her (just as there are consequences for how I live my own life). I explained that there is heaven and hell. Heaven is for those who love and obey God in this life on earth. Hell, however, is for those who hate God or do not care about God. Hell is for those who persist in disbelief and hatred for God throughout this life. I explained that the reason I am even here today evangelizing is because of love. God loves her and I love her and we want her to be eternally happy with God in heaven. But, out of love God does allow each of us to choose – we can choose to love and believe in Him or refuse to love and believe in Him (God does not coerce us).

This definitely made her think. Her response that followed was that “If there is a God, then He is loving and merciful and as long as she tries to be good, God will forgive her even if she does not believe in Him. Because of this it does not matter what I believe.” I tried to explain to her how her reasoning was wrong. I told her that God is our Father. God reveals Himself to us in many ways. If we ignore God and have an attitude of indifference, that is not loving God. If we do not know God and are not seeking to learn how God wants us to live, we are living in disobedience. And just as with our human parents (our mom and dad), if we disobey there are consequences and punishments. I explained that if I am right and there is a God, there is also the reality of heaven and hell. These are the consequences that result depending on who or what we love and how we live on earth.

Our conversation did seem to have an effect on her (at least I hope it did). I definitely pray that she will respond to the movements of the Holy Spirit in her heart. She was baptized so I hope that she will cooperate with the grace within her. One of the other team members had been talking to her mom during this time and wisely encouraged her mother to continue praying as did St. Monica.

This experience reminded me of a quote from Benedict XVI. “When one is not aware of the judgment of God, when one does not recognize the possibility of hell . . . then one does not recognize the possibility and necessity for purification. Then man does not work well on behalf of the world, because in the end he loses his bearings; he no longer knows himself, not knowing God and destroying the world. . . “ (Benedict XVI, to Roman clergy, 2/7/2008).

With the secular culture attempting to remove God from the world, one result is this failure to recognize the reality of hell. As Benedict XVI says, this unfortunately impacts not only the individual but the world as a whole. The reaction of this young lady when I presented the reality of hell (basically her lack of awareness of its reality) reminded me of the importance of ensuring that in our efforts in evangelization, out of love we are not omitting even the difficult truths such as the reality of hell. In doing so, we will be imitating Christ. Christ on many occasions preached the reality of both heaven and hell out of love. Denying this reality or not being aware of this reality can lead people astray. Out of love, even the difficult doctrines must be shared, while still having love and joy rather than fear be our primary messages.