Several years ago, as I was on my way into St. Patrick’s Church, a man approached me. His eyes looked straight into mine, searching for something. Perhaps directions to some place in the neighborhood?
Then he inquired, “Let me ask you something. Why do you go to church?” Spontaneously, I answered, ”Because I love Jesus.” My answer surprised me. It sounded like a slogan from Vacation Bible School. Sometimes the Holy Spirit catches me with my barriers down and blurts out the truth.
The man smiled, and then leaned toward me intently. ”But why do you go to this church? He pointed to the church building in front of us. I shrugged, "This is where I live, and Jesus is here. If I lived in a different neighborhood, I’d go to a church there.” He nodded and slowly walked away.
That encounter came to mind as I thought about the many opportunities the Lord puts right in front of me to tell about my faith in God. My natural shyness prevents many of these occasions from making any impact on those around me. Who talks about faith in public?
What if the man in front of St. Pat’s had lingered, wanting to know why I said I love Jesus, and found him in the Catholic Church? I’d say that my faith story is nothing special. I grew up in a church-going Protestant family, fell in love with a Catholic in college and married him. Then converted to Catholicism a couple of years later after I discovered I belonged in the Catholic Church. Since then, that’s where I go to be with Jesus.
Is that your story? No? Probably not.
If we talked one-on-one, what would you ask me about this brief synopsis of my faith story? How would you get to the heart of why I told the stranger I love Jesus and find him in the Church?
We all have a unique faith story to tell. As Catholics, we don’t stand up in church and declare our witness of how Jesus saved us. Rather, we find quiet moments over coffee with a neighbor, at dinner with friends, or perhaps with a discussion group at Bible study. We let our faith story leak out to those we trust. (To be continued.)
(© 2014 Nancy H C Ward)
This month we are offering the full 3900-word text of “Telling your faith story” to new subscribers to JOYAlive.net. When you go to the box on the right and enter your email address, you will receive a confirmation email. Then watch your inbox for an email with a link to TellingYourFaithStory.pdf. If you are already a subscriber, just email us at email@example.com and request it.
Need a speaker? Bring "Telling Your Faith Story" to your Catholic group.