Be inspired and read how Catholic parishes, groups, schools, communities and individuals are sharing their faith.
Michael Davidson, a parish visitor.
You called; I said 'No'; I said 'Yes'.
I was scared and I didn’t know what to do and I certainly didn’t think I had anything to say to people, even if I knew who to approach and I didn’t. All these negatives, yet there was no denying that God had been calling me, personally, to spread the Good News. I didn’t know what the Good News was. I had heard that Jesus’ command to His disciples to go and make disciples and sort of vaguely understood that this Great Commission applied to me, but tried not to believe it.
After 15 years, most of which I had been too ill with depression to do anything, I gradually, by the good Lord’s grace, began to accept that I should do something about responding to His call. How patient He was with me! There were three steps to the heaven I now enjoy of sharing with people about their and my faith. In 2000 I re-read an article I had cut out from ‘The Universe’ about Jim, a chap who was bringing back lapsed Catholics to the practice of their faith by writing to and then visiting them. A thrilled lapsed parishioner wrote his testimony – “One knock to faith.” I got in touch with Jim; he came to stay in November 2000, fired me up for the task of evangelism and gave me the address of the SION Catholic Community for Evangelism.
Now, evangelism is a scary word to ordinary Catholics; we envisage well-dressed American evangelists preaching to crowds of thousands, or on TV; or we think of the poor JWs. I certainly had no idea what to expect; only that the SION Community ran a weekend training course called ‘Pass It On’, ‘It’ being our faith. I booked to go in April 2001. But Jesus knew I still wasn’t ready spiritually. He had more healing and correcting of bad attitudes and inner preparation to do in me. In the words of Ezekiel 36:26 he gave me a new heart and put a new spirit in me – wonderful! Eventually, in October 2002, I was due to go to Brentwood for the Pass It On course, led by Michelle Moran. With a mixture of excitement and trepidation I asked the Lord if there was anything wrong in me. He said, “You’re too timid.” I said, “I know I’m timid, I’m scared out of my wits!” But He told me he had made me bold and that this also involved plucking up courage every time I wanted to speak to someone about Him.
On the course we learnt how to give our 3-minute testimony, a story of something great God had done in our lives, maybe how we had come to faith in Him. At last I found out what the Good News was - the 4 basic truths of the Core Gospel. We learnt how to share that and other ways of how to evangelise Catholics. Aren’t the best parts of training courses always the tips? Finally, we found out that the SION Community does missions in Catholic parishes all over the country and we could join the volunteer visiting team if we wanted to. By then I wanted to.
In March 2003 I want on my first mission, in Manchester – and – you won’t believe this – you couldn’t hold me back!! I felt the boldness the Lord had promised me. In pairs we visited parishioners whose names and addresses we had been given. So I learnt on the job from an experienced visitor. We talked to people about the special services, which another SION team were presenting the following week of the mission, with our own priest, Fr Ged. We listened to the people talk about their experiences of parish life, their faith, their families and their concerns. We tried to say something helpful and all the time the Holy Spirit popped ideas to say into my mind. It was the most amazing experience! At the end of the 10 – 15 minutes visits we offered to pray with them for something they suggested.
Do we ever get refused? Put it like this: about 97 out of 100 people are glad to speak to us. In fact some people are so welcoming that they invite us in before we have said anything on their doorstep, as they have seen us introduce ourselves at Mass.
So my world turned upside down; it wasn’t me doing it after all, it was the power of the Holy Spirit working through me. Since 2003 up to now I have done an average of 4 or 5 missions a year for the SION Community. I just love the work. When I get into my car to drive to some strange town I think, “Yes! I’m going on mission!”