In this Year of Mercy, Pope Francis encourages us to show God’s mercy through our witness. The Holy Father called this Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy to direct our attention and actions “on mercy so that we may become a more effective sign of the Father’s actions in our lives . . . a time when the witness of believers might grow stronger and more effective.”
Our faith story is our account of God’s mercy in our lives. We all have a unique faith story to tell. Sharing God’s actions in our lives is the best way to become an effective witness.
Our baptism began our faith story. We were commissioned to evangelize. We can fulfill our call to mercy and evangelization in part by sharing our faith story at every opportunity given us by God.
Throughout our faith story we tell of God’s mercy, his salvation, redemption and transformation of our lives. God expresses his love through our story. He created each of us as an unrepeatable expression of his presence. He builds our faith each time we encounter him. Each time we tell our story, we reveal a unique expression of God’s presence. We share his love and mercy.
Here are five tips for making our witness better in 2016, based on my favorite evangelization verse, 1 Peter 3:15:
Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence.
- Always be ready – and willing — to share what God is doing in your life. Know your faith story. Be attentive to the nudge of the Holy Spirit to share with an old friend or someone new in your life.
- Always be curious about the faith story of those around you and gently encourage them to share their story with you. Approach with admiration that friend you have known for years but whose story you have never heard.
- Always be authentic. Keep in mind that your witness is not just what you say, but how you live out your faith and demonstrate the reason for your hope. Be approachable.
- Always be open to receive the grace of the moment, the gift of God’s presence. Then be open to giving away that gift of God’s presence in you to others. Let a little of your faith story leak out to those around you and see what happens next.
- Always be humble and seek continuous conversion. Look for ways to renew your faith. Be the one who invites those on the fringes of the church to go with you to a retreat, day of renewal, Bible Study or evangelization seminar.
How do I start evangelizing by sharing my faith story? How do I know what to say?
Begin journaling. Keep a spiritual journal with all the blessings the Lord has given you. Ponder the high and low points of your life, praying and listening to the Holy Spirit.
Knowing and pondering our faith story helps clarify our thoughts. We see how God intervened and steered us to the path he planned for our greatest happiness. We see his mercy.
You can get a good idea of the variety of ways to tell a story of conversion, return to the church, a healing or an answered prayers from more than 30 stories on JOYAlive.net. Check out the Joy Stories tab.
Start now with your spiritual journal. Let the Holy Spirit remind you of the marvelous blessings God has brought in your life.
By Nancy Ward, of the Catholic Writers Guild. This reflection is reprinted from the guild’s blog.