In a camp of young people they were sharing their experiences of how to share the Gospel with others. The testimony of Maria, from Africa was perhaps the most powerful. “We don’t have missions or give out pamphlets or share multimedia projects. We just send two or three Christian families to live and work in a village, and when people see what Christians are like, then they want to be Christians too.” In the end the only all-conquering argument is the argument of a Christian life. Saint Francis of Assisi says, Preach the gospel at all times, if necessary, use words.
A Chinese Christian was put into prison one night. It was bitterly cold, well over twenty degrees below zero. He was well dressed, with thick clothes and a big fur coat. A non-Christian man was later thrown in with him with hardly any clothes on him. The Christian man began to pray that God would get him out of prison. While he was praying, it seemed God spoke to him. ‘I won’t hear your prayer until you’ve taken off your fur coat and given it to this man who has none.’ ‘But if I do that, I’ll be freezing dead by morning,’ the man thought. ‘Well, if you don’t,’ he seemed to hear God’s reply, ‘the man will be long gone by the morning.’ So he took off his fur coat and gave it to the man. Both of them survived the cold. Both of them got eventually released from prison. The man was eternally grateful. “I am alive today,” he always says, ” because a Christian shared his coat with me in prison.” People are in need. People are suffering. The winning of souls to Christ could well depend on how willing we are to share our coat.
The secret obviously is the inner conviction that the Lord is wonderful. When I lived in a countryside monastery in Malta, I remember having a trivial experience that enlightened me a lot. I left a piece of chocolate candy on a table and lightheartedly I picked up an ant and put it near the sweet. I was surprised to see it take a single bite and then hurry off to inform the rest of the colony. Soon the little creature returned, followed by a long train of other ants that enjoyed the treat with him. Being a apostle is the normal outcome of being a Christian.
A man distributed Christian leaflets for many years on a street corner. Finally, seeing no visible results, he gave up. When he returned to the same spot two years later, he was surprised to see another individual handing out Gospel leaflets as he had done. Striking up a conversation, he discovered that the man got interested in the Church through a leaflet he received in that same corner two years before. “Many times I have come back here to find that earnest worker and thank him, but he never returned. I think he must have died, and so I have taken his place!”
As my spiritual mentor always tells me, ‘Never lose heart. Your next move may be the final stroke of a hammer that ‘can break the rock in pieces’ and open the heart to the Gospel.” He is right of course. He always is!
(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission is hereby granted for any non-commercial use, provided that the content is unaltered from its original state, if this copyright notice is included.