POWER TOOLS FOR EVANGELIZATION
By Bob Canton, ICCRS Council Member
"All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age."- Matt. 28:18-20.
The disciples went out as commanded by Jesus and proclaimed the Good News with signs and wonders following them, and the world was never the same again.
By virtue of our baptism, and as members of the Mystical body of Christ, we are called by the Lord to spread the gospel to everyone around us. The Documents of the Vatican Council 2 under the Decree of the Apostolate of Lay People, Chapter 2, state, "The apostolate of the Church, therefore, and of each of its members, aims primarily at announcing to the world by word and action the message of Christ and communicating to it the grace of Christ."
Why we ought to evangelize?
The National Conference of Catholic Bishops(NCCB) in the United States enumerates the following answers to this question as contained in the booklet, "Go and Make Disciples."
- We must evangelize because the Lord Jesus commanded us to do so.
- We must evangelize because people must be brought to the salvation that Jesus the Lord offers in and through the Church.
- Jesus commanded us to evangelize in order to bring enlightenment and lift people from error.
- The Lord gave us the message that is unique. Knowing Christ Jesus and belonging to his church is not the same as believing anything else and belonging to any other community.
- We must evangelize to show our love for every person, whatever his or her situation, language, physical, mental, or social condition. Because we have experienced the love of Christ, we want to share it.
Power Tools for Evangelization: In order to get the job done, the Lord has furnished us with basic and powerful tools that are readily available to us. This list is by no means exhaustive, but I believe they are necessary elements in the works of evangelization. These are:
- The presence of the Holy Spirit
- The intercession of Mary, the mother of God and the mother of the mystical body of Christ
- The use of charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit
The presence of the Holy Spirit: Before ascending into heaven, Jesus told his disciples, " But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." -Act.1:8. At Pentecost, when the disciples received the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, they received power, the same power that raised Jesus from the dead. Consequently, they were transformed from being fearful to becoming fearless and powerful evangelizers. The baptism of the Holy Spirit enabled them to walk in the spiritual realm where they were led by the Spirit, controlled by the Spirit, filled by the Spirit and guided by the Spirit. There were able to do the works of Jesus such as raising the dead to life, making the blind see, the lame walk, the deaf hear and setting free those who were oppressed by the devil. In John 14:12, Jesus says, "Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father."
In his encyclical Evangelii Nuntiandi, Pope Paul V1 states, that "evangelization will never be possible without the action of the Holy Spirit." He further stated, "It is the Holy Spirit who, today just as at the beginning of the Church, acts in every evangelizer who allows himself to be possessed and led by him. The Holy Spirit places on his lips the words which he could not find by himself, and at the same time, the Holy Spirit predisposes the soul of the hearer to be open and receptive to the Good News and to the Kingdom being proclaimed." -(EN 75). Invoking the Holy Spirit to empower us so that we will become effective soul-winners for God's Kingdom should be every Christian's priority.
The Intercession of Mary the mother of God and the mother of the Mystical Body of Christ: Mary, the mediatrix of all graces, the spouse of the Holy Spirit, is an evangelizer par excellence. In the Catechism of the Catholic Church, section 973, we find these words," "By pronouncing her "fiat" at the Annunciation and giving her consent to the Incarnation, Mary was already collaborating with the whole work her Son was to accomplish. She is the mother wherever He is savior and head of the Mystical Body." Her "Yes" to the Lord and her faith and trust in him make her a model evangelizer." When they ran short of wine during the wedding feast at Cana, Mary told the servers to "do whatever he tells you to do."-John 2:3. In order for us to become powerful proclaimers of the gospel, we should take to heart her instructions; to be obedient to Jesus by doing what he tells us to do. It is also wise for us to invoke her intercession for us to accomplish the tasks that the Lord has assigned us to do. After all, she is our "mother" and she is "full of grace." The Catechisms of the Catholic Church 968, states, "Her role in relation to the Church and to all humanity goes still further. "In a wholly singular way she cooperated by her obedience, faith, hope, and burning charity in Savior's work of restoring supernatural life to souls. For this reason, she is a mother to us in the order of grace."
The Charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit: St. Paul describes the following charismatic gifts as mentioned in 1 Cor.12: 8-10, the word of wisdom, the word of knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discernment of spirits, tongues, and interpretation of tongues. These gifts are the ingredients for a powerful and effective work of evangelization. The Catechisms of the Catholic Church 798, states that "Charisms are "special graces," by which the Holy Spirit makes the faithful fit and ready to undertake various tasks and offices for the renewal and building up of the Church." The charisms are not just "natural abilities" but gifts given by the Holy Spirit to each person as he wills. There are other lists of gifts mentioned in Ephesians 4, Romans 12, and 1 Peter 4. Surely, the charisms or spiritual gifts manifest the transcendence of God. In Healing Crusades in Thailand and Malaysia not too long ago which I had the privilege to conduct, the manifestations of the gifts of the Holy Spirit such as word of knowledge, prophecy, healings, miracles, tongues, word of wisdom were very visible. Some people walked from wheelchairs, deaf people were able to hear, tumors and abnormal growths disappeared, some blind people regained their sights, and other healings such as emotional and spiritual healings and healings of relationships took place. Afterwards, some non-Christians came up to us asking to be baptized as Roman Catholics because they had witnessed the power and presence of Jesus in their midst. They came to believe in the preaching that Jesus is true God and true man who died for our sins, who rose from the dead and is now seated at the right hand of God. They came to believe that Jesus is the healer and that he is still healing until now.
Jesus says, in John 14:11, " Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe because of the works themselves."
These spiritual gifts are not only applicable during Healing Crusades or Healing Services, or prayer meetings, but they can also be used in the market place, in the work place, at home or wherever there are human interactions. The Vatican Council 2 documents on the Decree of the Apostolate of Lay People, Section 3, assert, "From the reception of these charisms, even the most ordinary ones, there arises each of the faithful the right and the duty of exercising them in the Church and in the world for the good of men and development of the Church, of exercising the freedom of the Holy Spirit who "breathes where he wills."
Prayer: What is prayer? Prayer is the raising of one's mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God , according to the Catechisms of the Catholic Church. Prayer is the key that opens the door to God's power. In Matt.7:8-11, Jesus says, "For everyone who asks, receives, and for the one who seeks, finds, and the one who knocks, the door will be opened." "Then call on me in time of distress, I will rescue you and you will honor me"- Psalm 50:15.
One of the most powerful weapons to use for evangelization is prayer. Prayer can bring down the power of the evil one and is a vehicle for a victorious Christian life. "They that hope in the Lord will renew their strength, they will soar as with eagles' wings; they will run and not grow weary, walk and not grow faint."-Is.40:31.
Prayers should not only be directed to the Lord for our own personal needs but also to those who don't know the Lord. St. Paul, in Eph. 6:18-19, writes, "With all prayer and supplication, pray at every opportunity in the Spirit. To that end, be watchful with all perseverance and supplication for all the holy ones." I will never forget the experience I had one day when I was interviewed live on a TV Christian program in the San Francisco Bay area. I was interviewed regarding the ministry of healing and deliverance when the interviewer had asked me to pray for the viewers live. Without hesitation, I prayed in tongues and I invoked the Holy Spirit to manifest his presence. Then I started to receive words of knowledge on healings and prophecies for certain individuals who were watching the program. I also took the opportunity to pray for the baptism of the Holy Spirit. At the conclusion of the program, many viewers called in the TV station to report healings that they had experienced and to confirm the prophecies given.
Other power tools for evangelization: Include the sacraments of the church, living the Word of God or living the gospel, personal witness, and Christian unity.
As baptized Catholics, we have all these power tools for evangelization at our disposal. God the Father has already blessed us in Christ Jesus with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, according to the scriptures. So let's start harvesting souls for the Kingdom of God right now!