The Promise is to You

Impelled by Love (or: How an Introvert Evangelized at the Art Fair and Actually Liked It)

The thing about writing a blog like the one I did two weeks ago is that the writer is on the hook to do exactly what she wrote about. When the title is “Now is the Time: Proclaim God’s Love” that can be a bit intimidating.

I’ve had my share of nervousness about such things, just like anyone else. I’m naturally an introvert, which doesn’t help. That I’ve done various kinds of ministry for 20 years is helpful, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.

“The love of Christ impels us…” (2 Cor 5:14). I’ve found this to be true. It is only the amazing love that I’ve received from Christ and the understanding that everyone needs it that motivate me to witness. And when I’ve let God’s love lead me, there’s been an unmatched joy!

I was counting on this when I recently asked the Lord how now to proclaim His love. He gave me simple things to do first: invite particular friends to dinner, ask another friend if she wanted prayer, and do one project first at work instead of another.

Each direction came clearly and with peace. As I followed through, I asked the Holy Spirit to love the other people through me. He continued to give me words of knowledge as I cooperated. Everything was blessed, bearing far more fruit than I could’ve hoped for.

The Lord was taking me to a new level spiritually. I had a new confidence in Him, a new trust that He would act. And there was more joy!

Then a friend asked if I would join Art Fair pic from Patrick Markensteinhim and some others in evangelizing at the Ann Arbor Art Fair. 100,000 people were due to descend upon our downtown. In the “non-profit section” there would be a Marian Booth. We would offer people Rosaries and try to engage them in conversation that would lead them closer to Christ.

In the past I would’ve prayed, “Please, God – no!” But this time was different. This time my instinct was “Yes!” Wanting to be sure that God was asking me to do this, I prayed. I sensed that the Lord had a peaceful excitement about it, so I signed up.

Admittedly, I got nervous when it came to it. Part of me wanted to go home. But deep down there was a passion inside me – the knowledge of God’s love, a deep heartbreak for those who need Him and don’t know Him, and a desire to see His love triumph in their lives!

At the booth I joined three others. We began with a prayer. Then two walked up the street to offer Rosaries while another and I stayed at the booth.

It was much easier than I’d expected. People strolled by constantly, and as they looked in our direction I offered them a Rosary.

Since Ann Arbor is a very liberal city (as evidenced by the “Atheist Booth” across from ours) I prepared to be turned down. In the whole two and a half hours I was there, though, no one was angry. Those who declined generally gave a polite “No, thank you.”

But those who said “Yes”…

-The first two women who took Rosaries were excited to get them! It turned out that they’re already Catholic. I asked if they’d like prayer for anything. One said she has stage 4 breast cancer that has metastasized. With permission I put a hand on her shoulder and prayed. She was tremendously grateful.

-A tall man who looked down and out accepted a Rosary. In hushed tones he confided that the first time he’d gone in a Catholic Church he felt such peace there. It didn’t sound like he’d gone back, so I invited him to come anytime and gave him a card with local Mass times. He thanked me.

-A mom and her little daughter came by. The mom already had one but told her daughter she could pick one. The girl deliberated carefully over all the colors that were available, then chose a pink one. We gave her a little booklet with the prayers. She happily put on the Rosary like a necklace.

-A couple declined but then suddenly changed their minds. I handed the wife a Rosary and asked if she knew how to pray it. She didn’t. I asked if she had any religious background and she said she is Baptist. “You don’t need to be Catholic to pray the Rosary,” I replied. Starting with the Our Father, which she’s familiar with, I gave a brief explanation. I referenced the Bible passages for the Hail Mary and asking saints to intercede for us. It made sense to her so she took the Rosary and a prayer booklet. Her husband suggested that someone they know might want a Rosary, so they took another.

-A dozen or more others took Rosaries for themselves or for friends. I was also surprised by how many people said they already have them.

This was all in the first hour or so. Rosaries to hand out cThen, feeling more comfortable with how things were going, I headed up the street with a more experienced evangelist. So many people accepted Rosaries that we had to go back to the booth for more!

Several teenage girls took Rosaries and had no idea what they were. I explained and gave them prayer booklets. “Cool!” was their response.

I found myself approaching people of all ages and backgrounds with far more ease than ever before. There was a special grace to offer them what is truly a great gift meant for everyone!

A couple young men walked by in Muslim attire. Knowing that Mary is special to them, I offered them Rosaries. They politely declined and pulled out their own prayer beads to show me. I asked more about them, and we began a conversation.

One was a hospital chaplain who had some familiarity with charismatic Catholicism. When he talked about Jesus being a great teacher who raised people from the dead, I was able to tell him about some of the miraculous healings done in Jesus’ name at Upper Room.

The other evangelist and I talked with them for about 20 minutes. In the end we agreed to disagree, but one of them did take a Rosary & prayer book, and both were invited to come worship God at Upper Room.

I really enjoyed this whole experience. It was exciting to see the joy on people’s faces as they received the Rosaries. No doubt Mary will use these beads to draw them closer to Jesus. The other evangelists were fun to work with too, and they all have their own stories to tell.

St. John Paul II said that “Life with Christ is a wonderful adventure.” That sums up the night. Granted, sometimes the adventure is much more of a struggle. Yet even then simply being with Christ is wonderful.

That’s the gift we give people when we proclaim God’s love. Let’s keep doing it!

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How are you proclaiming God’s love? We can build each other’s faith by sharing our stories. Email your story to Christy at UpperRoom@ctkcc.net to be considered for this blog.

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Blog post & Rosary photo by Christy Whiting. Art Fair photo by Patrick Markenstein.

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2 Comments

  1. Tom Salapatek
    Posted August 4, 2016 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    One of the men at the Northridge Church Bible Study group I participate in mentioned how Catholics “rattle prayers on the rosary”. The next week I gave them the meditations I use on the rosary, prayers and intentions I pray — including for them! I opened their eyes, and now one regularly prays with his family using the meditations I supplied. As you found, often people just don’t understand the Catholic faith —– even Catholics!

    Just being there and open to starting a conversation IS evangelizing.

    • Christy Whiting
      Posted August 4, 2016 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

      What a great way to do it! Thanks for sharing, Tom!

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