19 June 2012

Encounters on Campus

My job as a FOCUS Missionary, but firstly as a Christian, is to share the Gospel with those around me. In FOCUS, we do this in various ways. Most of the methods we use are relational: we meet people, get to know them, and introduce them to the Man who changed each of our lives in radical ways. One of the "scariest" ways that we share the Gospel is through Barehanded Evangelization. We go out onto campus armed with nothing but the love of Christ in our hearts and we talk to people about Jesus.

It can be scary for a few reasons.
1. Satan doesn't want us to do it and will try various intimidation tactics to make sure we don't.
2. It's not "PC" to talk about Jesus.
3. College students can be just plain mean!

Last week, my new teammate Katelyn and I went "barehanding." We only had half an hour so I prayed that we'd be able to find one person to talk to in that short amount of time. We walked the quad here at U of I for a few minutes and everyone was wearing headphones or was already talking to the other missionaries out there.  We walked over to the engineering quad and saw a girl sitting by herself talking on the phone.  I wanted to talk to Katelyn about some evangelization techniques before we jumped into anything so we discretely sat on the bench next to the girl on the phone, waiting, of course, for her to finish her conversation. Katelyn and I talked and I told her I prefer a more natural way of starting conversations (rather than the missionary favorite: "We're taking an informal survey.") and I'd lead when the girl got off the phone.

She got off the phone and I struck up a conversation about her hair color. (It was pretty, so I asked her the awkward question: Is it natural?... Heaven is worth the awkwardness!) We got to talking about U of I's campus, we learned that she grew up not far from Champaign, she is studying English, works on campus in the Library, and doesn't have a church in Champaign, but she goes when she's home with her parents. Right as I was about to invite her to come to Mass, she had to go back to work because her break was over.

It was a really good humbling and teaching moment for both Katelyn and I. We learned that the opportunity does not always present itself to do a full presentation of the Gospel, and the person we're talking to isn't always going to be receptive to a relationship with Christ. We learned that success isn't measured by our opinions on how the conversation went, or if we get the girl's contact information. We did something radical in our culture: we talked to a stranger! And sometimes, that is all that it takes! God plants the seeds and God reaps the fruit. Sometimes, all people need to know Christ is to have someone to listen to their story.

Saint Bernard of Clairvaux,  Doctor of the Church, pray for us!

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