IMPACT 2018 - The Great Commission
IMPACT 2018 - The Great Commission
On 1st May I flew to Vancouver to join Impact, a mission
project run by Catholic Christian Outreach (CCO), a University movement
dedicated to the renewal of the world. I served at St Luke's and St Patrick's
Parish in Maple Ridge, living in community with 13 young Canadians who knew
their identity as sons and daughters of God the Father, were abandoned to God's
will and fired up to evangelise.
The first couple of weeks were spent outreaching at the
church entrance, school car park and shopping malls. Come rain or shine, we'd
have leaflets in one hand, pastries in the other, and our challenge was to go
where the people were, offer the invitation and leave the rest to God.
We all shared our personal testimony at Mass which proved to
be a powerful tool for evangelising. Sharing our faith journey and conversion
moment encouraged people to attend a faith study. Reflecting on the power of
this action, I would encourage all Christians to spend time recalling and sharing
the moment they said "Yes" and chose to follow Jesus Christ.
Over 100 participants chose the Discovery faith study and in
that short time, w saw many people give their lives to Christ; some for the
first time and others in a deeper way. Participants made the decision to live a
Christ centred life. We made it clear that their commitment did not mean having
a 'perfect' relationship but indicated their willingness to invite Jesus into all
areas of their lives.
We organised 'Night fever' events with adoration, praise
& worship, confession and prayer ministries. We would go door - to – door knocking
inviting people to the event. Non-Catholics joined us and we received many
prayer intentions. People were pleasantly surprised to see a Catholic knocking
on the door because it was so uncommon!
Despite all my evangelisation efforts, I realised and
accepted willingly that it was not me who was going to convert hearts but rather
the Holy Spirit working through me. At one event I was praying over a woman experiencing
marital difficulties. That same night the couple had an encounter with the
Spirit which started the healing process for their marriage. When they told me,
I was very surprised, even somewhat doubtful. Why was I surprised? because I
had forgotten to have Great Expectations of God. I had forgotten the promises
made in Scripture. I had forgotten that God's Spirit lives in all Christians, and
if we give God permission to work in our lives, we can do great things.
The priests and parishioners made us feel very welcome.
Groups in the Church came together to make meals for our faith studies and invited
us over for dinner. I would often wonder if the disciples experienced the same
kindness when they set out and I appreciated just how blessed we were to be
accepted and offered the opportunity to preach freely.
On mission we tried to learn the art of being with others;
an approach we call accompaniment. Sr Maris Stella SV described accompaniment
as gazing with the heart, seeing the things that are hidden beneath the surface
and listening for the things that are not said out loud. Brandon, one of the
missionaries on Impact, had his conversion 2 years ago and he would often refer
to the person who accompanied him to faith as his Paul. Paul mentored Timothy,
wrote him letters, made him a coworker and built him up to be a leader. Timothy
in turn then reached out to many others. Similarly, someone accompanied Brandon
and now Brandon outreaches to hundreds of students on campus, leads faith
studies and equips students to follow that leadership path. Investing in the
one lost sheep can have a multiplying effect. Maybe we need to find ourselves a
Paul or a Timothy?
Our favourite saying on mission was "God doesn't call
the equipped, He equips the called." All those who encounter Christ's intimate,
personal love and friendship are called to be missionary disciples. This does not
mean travelling across the world to share the Gospel; step outside your house
and you are in mission territory. We are in a world of spiritual poverty.
Faith is strengthened when it is given to others and from
personal experience I know that there is great joy in sharing the Gospel and
seeing lives transformed. Jesus' Great Commission "go and make disciples
of all nations" is not an easy command but everyone deserves to hear the
kerygma. We are called to be faithful and courageous but we are supported in
the knowledge that we are never alone.
As a disciple of Jesus Christ, there is no escaping
rejection. We had people ignore us, brush us off, cross the road, slam the
door, shout and swear at us just for extending an invitation. It hurt, but it
wasn’t me they were rejecting, it was Jesus. Not everyone is ready to hear the Good
News and that’s ok, God has a plan. However, there will be people who by God’s
grace are ready and need to hear they are loved and forgiven and have a chance
at eternal life. We will never know where people are until we go out.
Before we go out, we have to ask ourselves some hard
questions. Who do you say Jesus is? Do you have a heart for the lost? Do you understand
the importance of Jesus' salvation?
Discovery is a great tool with which to discuss the core message
of the Christian faith, and to offer people both an opportunity to make a decision
for Christ and the confidence to explain the Gospel message clearly to others.
Many parishes across the UK are running the faith studies including Crawley, Guildford,
Wimbledon and Richmond.
Many participants had their lives changed through Impact and
two participants gave me permission to share their story.
After the first Discovery session, for the very first time, I
felt I was truly forgiven; I felt loved for who I am right now and I was suddenly
hopeful for who I am to become as a child of God. To finally understand how much
God loved me, how much He wanted to have a personal and intimate relationship with
me, was to say the least, revolutionary.
Every session I participated in, made me grow stronger in my
faith and more connected to God. I re-taught myself how to read the Bible and I
now have a new appreciation for the readings. After lesson 5 when I said the prayer
to put Jesus at the centre of my life, a CCO leader asked how I was; I broke down
in tears and was speechless. I had never felt so good about my spiritual life and
so loved by our Lord.
If you would like more information on Discovery visit https://cco.ca/