So there I was, enjoying my coffee at Caribou, alone, by myself. And then a group of middle-schoolers stampeded in after school. They filled the coffee shop with their little bodies, glowing cell phones, and mindless chatter. And then I heard a group of boys secretly sharing pictures from their phones and laughing. Something seemed wrong.
There I was, a super evangelist with four years of training, but I was too scared to go talk to them. The scene played out in my mind. I have to walk up to them, open my mouth and say something. It's going to be awkward. I'm going to get laughed at. What should I say? What bible verses apply here?
I know the Lord wanted me to speak, but I didn't. I just sat there, buried in my book. I spent the next 30 minutes by myself, trying to enjoy my cowardice. I was a big chicken.
It took me a long time to get over my failure. It was two months later at a Catholic conference (called the School of the New Evangelization) when I heard one of the speakers say, "We've all had moments of failure when it comes to sharing the Faith. This isn't time to beat ourselves up. It's time to let the Holy Spirit empower us to a greater joy." God wanted to show me that I am not a super evangelist with super powers; I am a practicing Catholic who is still practicing. My only super power is the power of God - the Holy Spirit.
Something else I learned at this conference was that evangelization is not that hard. It's the most human thing we can do. If we can hold a conversation, we can evangelize.
I was walking home from Adoration with my wife and kids when we came across our mailman.
Me: "What's his name again? Carl?"
Wife: "It's Scott."
Me: "Hey Scott, how's it going?"
Fast forward ten more minutes of average dialogue, talking about the weather, work, kids, etc.
Me: "We'd love to have you over for dinner."
Scott: "I would really appreciate that."
Me: "Let us know a time that works next week. You know where we live!"
And then he came over. And we talked about the weather and work and kids. And then the most natural thing happened. We started talking about our relationship with Jesus.
Scott is a Protestant who has never met a Catholic who loves Jesus. After the conversation, we prayed together and then he said, "I have never met Catholics like this. You have changed my mind about Catholics." And then a few days later (after another normal conversation), he said he'd like to join us for Sunday Mass.
I didn't need a script or to perfectly rehearse scripture, or to know how I was going to bring up my relationship with Jesus. It was just natural. I'm a big chicken when I think about the mighty responsibility of sharing Jesus with people. But I am confident because of the mighty God who is with me. The Holy Spirit arranged our meeting, inspired me with joy, and guided our conversation to lead to Him. I wasn't a hero. I just asked Scott about himself, talked about myself, and God opened up a window to talk about Himself.
Here's the takeaway. An evangelization plan can be helpful. But God doesn't expect His children to be perfectly polished communicators. God calls simpletons to share the Great Story with other simpletons, or as one writer put it, evangelization is "one beggar telling another beggar where he found bread."
Have no fear, because God can use chickens.