As I approached a home yesterday, while other Team members engaged residents on the opposite side of the street, I was met with a look of shock, followed by a burst of nervous laughter after introducing myself and stating the purpose of my visit. Asking what I had missed, I was informed that the two women – a mother and a daughter, were just discussing their faith journey (both are members of the Charlton Baptist Church) and how sad it was that “nobody goes door-to-door anymore”. It was within moments of that discussion that I entered their driveway after rounding a thicket of bushes extending out onto the street blocking any view they would have had of our presence in the neighborhood. Immediately, one of the remarked about “God always giving us what we need, when we need it”, as the three of us entered into a beautiful discussion of faith, Jesus Christ and His message of love.
As we talked, I was struck - as has been the case with every member of the Charlton Baptist Church we have encountered on this journey, by their complete willingness to embrace discussions of our Lord and their absolute sincerity of heart in expressing genuine love. Their witness to Jesus Christ was in every way whole, authentic, and inspiring, based not upon any theological dogma, doctrine or religious devotions, but rather upon the single most important attribute and message of Christ, that of course being LOVE. As our discussion came to a close, they each gently took one of my hands, looked directly into my eyes while extending their gratitude for our “efforts on behalf of Jesus Christ” – intuitively knowing without a word from me that what we do is not for a particular faith denomination, or church structure, or a particular doctrine, but rather simply and completely for our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He calls each one of us as Baptized Christians to leave the four walls of the church and “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15), leaving the rest to, and trusting completely in, the Holy Spirit, who will then guide souls to where they are best suited for their journey to Jesus. We parted ways with a commitment to pray for each other’s journey in, with, and for Jesus Christ.
As I reflect on what has been a recurring theme of unpretentious love with our Baptist brothers and sisters, I pray that we Catholics, every one of us, might someday come to truly experience the “Joy of the Gospel”, a joy that can only be truly experienced when we fully surrender to Christ’s call to follow Him with complete abandon (see Luke 9:23) and completely allowing ourselves to ‘take on the “smell of the sheep” (see Joy of the Gospel, Pope Francis – paragraph 24).
Down the street, as the other Team members (Brenda and Victoria) were busy texting, calling, and looking for me during my extended absence (thinking I had perhaps been abducted J), they were approached by a parishioner of St. Joseph’s who shared with them a light-hearted encounter she had just had with one of her neighbors, an individual who was initially a bit concerned and perhaps even perturbed by our presence in the neighborhood. Seeing us moving about with clipboards (used to log visits, and record prayer requests) and wearing our I.D. badges, this gentleman approached his neighbor with a level of trepidation and asked “are they surveyors, are they here surveying for more taxes, is that what they’re here for”? Looking at him with a smile the parishioner quickly calmed him with an explanation of who we were, which brought a sense of relief and comfort. As one of the Team members later remarked while sharing this encounter with me, I guess we actually are kind of “surveying” in that we’re surveying for prayers.
We have now had the honor of visiting 2,334 homes and have processed 1,115 Prayer Requests since our Commissioning in mid-April. A special thanks to all who support our efforts and in particular I extend my deep gratitude to Brenda and Victoria who have walked a “million” miles with me this summer…Okay…well…maybe not quite a million or even a thousand…but…don’t try convincing our feet of that. J
God Bless You ALL.