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"'Tis the season for evangelization" by Nancy HC Ward (CatholicMom.com) Image credit: By Carlos Koblischek (2005), FreeImages.com, CC0/PD[/caption] If you think the last thing you want to talk about at a Thanksgiving dinner or a Christmas Eve gathering is evangelization, I've got good news for you! 'Tis the season for evangelization! As the year winds down, it provides the perfect time to honor God for all he has done for you in 2019. Telling the Good News of God's mercy and love is called evangelizing. And the most effective way to evangelize, according to Saint John Paul II, is through your personal witness. That's what you have available to you all the time wherever you are. The celebrations during this season are good settings to share your faith. Why? Because most people are relaxed. They haven't seen you for a while. They are both curious to hear stories about you and ready to tell of their adventures and accomplishments. But they may not be expecting a story about a miracle, healing or encounter with God.

What about you?

Yes, you know you will be asked, "What's been going on with you this year?" And since you are a Christian and live your faith, aren't they really asking, "Why are you smiling? Why are you so peaceful? Why does hope shine from your eyes?" Can you relate to what another pope, St. Peter, said about evangelizing? "Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for the reason for your hope" (1 Peter 3:15). Are you ready to give a succinct answer that will give others hope? If not, the solution lies in a simple technique that never fails. Tell them your faith story. Well, not all of it at once, just what has happened recently and how that is a continuation of God's love and mercy in your lifelong conversion.

Three steps to effective evangelization

To effectively tell your faith story takes a bit of  preparation. You must know your story. You need a few talking points organized for clarity. You need a structured 3-minute elevator speech. Try this.
  1. Jot down the time sequence of your faith biography, beginning with your childhood, using bullet points for the highlights. This is your backstory.
  2. List 3-5 events of the past year when God blessed you by answering a prayer, healing your body or spirit, or surprising you with a miracle. These are your 2019 God-moments. Spiritual awakenings count, such as a time of prayer or retreat or something you read or heard when God revealed a spiritual truth that drew you closer to him.
  3. In each event, briefly record your state of mind before and after the encounter. Sandwich the God-moment between the before and after, emphasizing those Set the scene, state what God did or enabled you to do, and how you changed. Tie the encounter to something in your backstory, when appropriate.

Focus on God’s work

Be sure to focus on what God did and not what you "accomplished." You are a reflection of his glory, not the source. With the help of the Holy Spirit, your points will flow naturally because you are sharing the latest episode in your continuous conversion. The Holy Spirit is your inspiration, counselor, guide and source of the spiritual gifts you need to prepare yourself and your story. He will prompt you about which event to share, when and where to tell it, and to whom. Are you confused about what to say? No one can instruct you on what to say,  except the Holy Spirit. In John 14:26, Jesus promised us that, "The Advocate, the holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name—he will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you." Jesus keeps his promises. The Holy Spirit will remind you of everything that Jesus has told you about your faith and your faith story. Then he will help you tell it. Don't worry about your ability to share your story. God needs your availability more than your ability. Focus on the hope that something you said this season will make a crucial difference in the mind and spirit of one of your listeners. Who knows, maybe next year at this time someone will seek you out and tell you how you brought him or her closer to God in 2020 because you were faithful to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Enjoy this exciting season of evangelization by sharing your faith story!
Copyright 2019 Nancy HC Ward