A few weeks ago, I finished the Sharing Christ Course at our parish, St. Agnes. Afterward, (Disclaimer: Shameless Sharing Christ plug) I told Peter that I need to go through this course once a year—or at least every other year. The last time that I went through it was at OLPH with the YA Community. I remember being so pumped up and willing to go outside of my comfort zone and being ready to share my faith anytime/anywhere. But after a few months, pumped turned into willing, and willing turned back into hesitant and fearful.
So taking this course—and taking seriously the weekly prayer and actions—has been so encouraging! I have been praying daily for my prayer list of neighbors and family members who I want to share the good news of Jesus Christ with. And God has given me new courage.
One person on my list is my neighbor; let’s just call her Kate. She has two kids who are similar in ages to my little ones and so we often are outside refereeing, I mean, watching, our kids play together. We have talked about Church; she knows that Peter and I are Catholic, that Peter works for ChristLife and she sees how we live, but faith conversations often dead-end pretty quickly.
In one of the Sharing Christ sessions, it encourages you to write down a (very, very) short testimony of how Christ has changed your life and be willing to share it, because as Rick Warren (Purpose Driven Life) says:
“There is no other story just like yours, so only you can share it…may not be a Bible scholar, but you are the authority on your life, and it’s hard to argue with personal experience. In truth, your personal testimony is more effective than a sermon, because unbelievers see pastors as professional salesmen, but see you as a ‘satisfied customer’, so they give you more credibility.”
Although I have a pretty radical college testimony of coming back to the Lord, in recent years I’ve felt that my testimony isn’t difficult to bring up in conversations with people, I mean we are adults now, how would that actually come up in conversation? So instead, I prepared a testimony on how essential my relationship with Jesus is in my motherhood—with all the stresses, failures, and anxieties that can come with having a family. Which is something that moms often discuss. So with Kate, I have been trying to be a good friend and better listener and look for doors to bring up my faith.
A few days before the last session of Sharing Christ, Kate and I were sitting out front with all the kids. We got onto the topic of our fears and anxieties of when they grow up, which quickly turned in to talking about the teenage years, which turning into talking about our own teenage rebellion and college experience… she shared a personal experience that I could relate to perfectly and immediately and seamlessly opened the door for my college (re)conversion testimony. It was amazing, I was able to share my story and end with something like “…and because of that I have turned back to my Christian faith.” She was generally very interested and positive and she began to respond, but our conversation was cut-off by a few other neighbors who joined us.
I can honestly say that I never could have imagined having that conversation, I feel like it was the first one of significant depth in our friendship and that it broke the ice. I know that God has placed me in her life and although there may be many more steps to her own personal relationship with Jesus, I felt like that was such an anointed conversation and a purposeful stepping-stone.
“Don’t worry about how to respond or what to say. God will give you the right words at the right time. For it is not you who will be speaking—it will be the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.”
Matthew 10:19-20 (NLT)