Written by Keith Strohm
Sometimes when people ask me what I do, I tell them that I'm a Lay Evangelist. It's easy for me to say now because I am between jobs at the moment--and Lay Evangelist sounds much better than unemployed marketing executive. :)
Now, I sometimes say that with a smile on my face, but I am very serious. I enjoy sharing my faith with people I encounter. Sometimes this is done formally, as a speaker, retreat director, or formation coordinator, within the Church. But many times, this happens in my daily life outside the walls of a parish. I might be eating at a restauraunt and find myself engaged in a conversation with my server, or sitting on an airplane with someone who begins to talk about the questions they have about meaning, or existence, or God. Sometimes such conversations can occur at clubs or parties--really just about everywhere.
I love having those discussions with people--even those who are vehemently against religion, God, or "the Church." The opportunity to help others grapple, wrestle, or just talk about their relationship with God is a blessing--something I'm humbled to be a part of. Even more humbling is the experience of watching the Holy Spirit quicken or stir in someone's heart as they take another step toward God. I've had the good fortune of sponsoring a number of people into full communion with the Church, and it has helped me recognize my own spiritual poverty and the degree to which I depend upon the Grace of God for my salvation and deepening friendship with Him.
Not everyone is gung-ho to go out and start talking about their faith with friends or strangers. And that's okay. God has made each of us as unique unrepeatable manifestations of His Love. We have different gifts, personalities, talents, and life experiences. You don't have to stand on street corners or at parties "testifying."
At our most fundamental, however, we are all lay evangelizers. It comes with the territory--with the great gift of Baptism. As John Paul II has said, "evangelization is the Church's deepest and most profound identity." We are heirs of the Great Commission, men and women sent out to live our lives in the word in such a way that we spread the Love of God and foster all that is authentically human. Evangelization, you see, comes in many forms.
Which is good--because so do we!