by Joanna Chng
As I prepared and planned for a time of street evangelisation, a few thoughts ran through my mind. “What exactly do I have to do? Speak to strangers? Do we, as Catholics, even do this?”
I tried my best to wiggle my way out of this. There were so many doubts that I struggled with: “Surely, there must be a more subtle way to evangelise! Do we really need to walk out onto the streets? I highly doubt anybody would spend time to speak to us! I am far too introverted to speak to strangers.”
But as I researched and read more about street evangelisation, I realised that there was absolutely nothing to fear or worry about, simply because:
1. Jesus has commissioned the mission of evangelisation
In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus says: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Jesus puts it quite simply. He tells us to just go, no thoughts or conditions attached. He did not tell us to look for a specific time and place that we deem appropriate, or to let other people go and make disciples of all nations. Jesus is rather straightforward. He says that we are called to evangelise, without discrimination of person, place or time, and to make disciples of all nations, and that includes on the streets.
As Christians, we are all called to evangelise to others, and the verbal proclamation of Jesus and the witnessing to our faith through our deeds must go hand in hand with each other. It is not enough for us to just do good things or be good witnesses. We must also explicitly share the reason why we do the things we do; we must evangelise through our words by proclaiming the name, teaching, life, promises, Kingdom, and the mystery of Jesus, the Son of God (Evangelii Nuntiandi, no. 22).
2. It is my duty and privilege as a child of God to let others know that they, too, are loved indefinitely and unconditionally by a Father who is personal and close at hand
I have come to realise that it would be rather selfish of us, if we, who have encountered the Risen Lord, do not invite others to do the same as well. When one encounters the Risen Lord, and come to know of His love, there is a natural inclination to want to “shout it from the mountain top to let the world know that the Lord of Love has come to me, and I want to pass it on”, as the song “Pass It On” by Kurt Kaiser puts so aptly.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating for us to enforce our opinions down people’s throats. Rather, to simply invite others to come to know Jesus. To just sow the seeds, because it is God’s work to grow the seeds.
[su_quote]My job is to inform, not to convince–St. Bernadette[/su_quote]
And as St. Augustine writes: “God loves each of us as if there is only one of us”. There really is no difference in the way Jesus loves us and the way He loves the common man on the streets. The one that we judge to be impossible for God to love, does not change the fact that God still loves him. That God still loves each and everyone of us for who He created us to be. The world needs to know more of this, to come to the awareness of the fact that they are loved unconditionally and not based on what they do or cannot do.
3. Our weaknesses should not prevent us from speaking God’s truth
In Philippians 4:13, it is stated: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”. Through the outreaches, I began to develop a deeper understanding of what this meant. I am an introvert, and quite an extreme one at that. My friends can attest to how much answering unknown phone calls stresses and frightens me, much less speaking to a stranger on the streets. But there is a special grace given when being used by the Lord, and He continues to help me do what I had always thought to be impossible. To stop that stranger on the street, introduce myself and ask him about his story. Jesus stirs in me a sense of courage I know that cannot possibly come from me.
Through the outreaches, I have had many interesting conversations with people I have randomly spoken to and have witnessed many, who were initially terrified, step out of their comfort zones to be a verbal witness for the Lord.
Borrowing the words of Saint John Paul II: “Do not be afraid. Do not be satisfied with mediocrity. Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”
Do not be afraid, when God prompts you to speak to that stranger, He invites you to sow the seed, and He will empower you. So my brothers- and sisters-in-Christ, the next time the Lord presents an opportunity for us to share the Good News, let us be reminded of the words Saint John Paul II spoke: “Do not be afraid” and just go!