How Do You Evangelize The Ones Closest To You?

By Kendra Von Esh

16 September AD 2022

A couple of my listeners asked me to talk about how to evangelize their family. One person said her family does not want her talking to them anymore about her faith, the other said he has gotten into extreme arguments with family and friends. (Click here to listen to my full episode addressing this topic “Reality Reflections with Kendra Von Esh”.) All I know is we are called to share the Gospel and called to conform our lives to the Gospel – to be a Saint – it’s a dual covenant. However, I keep in mind what God has shared in His Word:

And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and in his own house.” And he did not work many mighty deeds there because of their lack of faith. Matthew 13:57-58

For Jesus himself testified that a prophet has no honor in his native place (John 4:44).

It is so hard to evangelize people we know well, like our family, but that doesn’t excuse us from doing it. I will share a few things that have worked and haven’t worked in my efforts of evangelization. As you continue reading, ask the Lord to put on your heart ways that you can evangelize in your life no matter what stage you are in the journey. We are the sower, God is the grower, and we do it together.
What Soil Are They – What Soil Are You?

Faith is a gift from God and we must always keep in mind where people are at in their walk of life as well as our own journey. One of the early mistakes I made was trying to convert everyone even if they were not at all interested. In this case, you can talk until you are blue in the face and they will not absorb a thing and might become aggressive or argumentative. We must discern each person and relationship when we choose to share the Catholic Faith and God’s Word.

During this time of blabbing to everyone I did not have a prayer life, I did not know the Catholic faith, I was not familiar with The Bible or the difference between other religions or spiritual practices. All I knew was God existed in the confessional when I went in April 2013, after being away for 26 years with many mortal sins on my soul. All I could share was the supernatural experience in that confessional and the bits and pieces that I was learning along the way. I was so far from understanding the true spiritual battle ahead and how important living a grace-filled sacramental life is when it comes to evangelizing. I was in a gunfight with a knife, but it didn’t stop me.

I was still living a sinful life at the same time that I had an unquenchable thirst to learn about the Catholic faith. I was living in total contradiction, but God was shining the light on my sins one by one. People were attracted to what was happening to me. I was genuine when I spoke but when pressed or questioned about why I believe what I believe, I was on very rocky ground. Thank you, God, for keeping me on the path and not allowing those seeds to dry up! The breaking point was when a friend pointed out the irony of how I professed to be a Christian but how I spoke like a raunchy sailor making guys blush with my profane language. I knew everything had to change in my life.

God showed me that everyone is different soil at different times in life and my soil was changing daily. I had to remember that people may or may not be receptive to God’s message, and I should cater it to each person as best I can. I drop seeds and water them, but God does the growing for them … and me.

May the God of peace himself make you perfectly holy and may you entirely, spirit, soul, and body, be preserved blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:23).

I tried to change on my own only to realize it was all about a relationship with God and humility. (Hence the subtitle of my book “Am I Catholic? A Struggle with Faith, Humility and Surrendering to God”.) I needed God’s grace to change the dozens of things to live like a true Catholic. I turned my focus on the only thing I can control – me. It was then that I dove into learning how to pray. If you need help with prayer, I developed a video prayer program to help. “Go Deep – 40 Days with Prayer, Love and Grace”. Learning how to pray was a critical aspect of my journey.
Do You Have a Prayer Life – You Can Not Evangelize without The Holy Spirit?

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 (Acts 1:8).

Whether you realize it or not, you have a ministry, your life is a ministry. We all have spheres of influence, people with which only we will come in contact to share the Gospel through the way we live our lives. When we live our life on our own with no prayer, no peace, and no discernment how do we do His Will? Prayer is something we need to hear God’s voice in the beginning. Then we learn His voice in other ways like in nature, media we consume, people in our path, Scripture, through our work, etc.

The Bible says we are to pray incessantly every day. St. Paul means we should be talking to and praising God every moment. We are called to do this at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass when the priest says, “Always and everywhere to give you thanks, Almighty and Eternal God.” It is our duty and our salvation, so why don’t we do this? If we are to be evangelists, we need a relationship with God so we can allow Him to speak through us, to hear His promptings, and to humbly ask for the grace to do what He asks.

I hate to be this blunt, but do not think you can evangelize without having a prayer life – it isn’t going to turn out the way you want. If you keep fighting prayer, you will not progress forward. It’s time to bite the bullet and begin the most amazing relationship of your life, not to mention the most important. I will also add that incorporating the sacraments in your life as often as possible is an additional benefit to helping you with the battle of living faithfully and prayerfully. God armed us with everything we need in the Catholic Church.
Do You Know Your Faith – You Cannot Give What You Do Not Have?

“Do not be afraid or terrified with fear of them but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope,” 1Peter 3:14-15

I remember when someone asked me why I was Catholic. It was such a grace that God led me to Eucharistic Miracles online when I was searching for something after I attended my first Mass in over twenty years. I had no idea what The Eucharist was. I was blown away by the multitude of proofs that God gave us to prove Jesus – Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity is the Eucharist. It was the second most powerful moment after confession and it came so early – the second week of my new journey with Catholicism and God. Within weeks I could articulate the Two Sacraments that saved my life, one being the source and summit of the Catholic Faith. Pretty awesome gift, right?

I think the most important aspect of learning the teachings of Catholicism is to know why we believe what we believe. We first gain knowledge and understanding of the faith but it is God’s wisdom that puts those teachings in our hearts. Our hearts drive our thoughts, words, and deeds. God changes our hearts as we begin to see the world from His eyes and turn from sin. This changes what we love and desire in the world to the things that please God.

You do not have to be an apologetist or have letters behind your name to answer questions about your faith. But, you need to take responsibility for your faith, otherwise, you will be like me in the beginning of my journey only being able to talk shallowly about an experience here or there. We need to become a child forever – learning our faith and expanding our relationship with God every single day. The more we learn, the more confident we become, and the more we speak the truth with love.

Every Catholic should read, at least once, The Bible (Old and New Testament) and The Catechism of the Catholic Church (I will let you pass with the Compendium). Get familiar with some good Catholic apologists to learn your faith. I promise you will not regret knowing the Catholic faith and God’s Word to help give you confidence.
Are You Living Faithfully, Joyfully, and Lovingly – Glorifying God Always?

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law (Galatians 5:22-23).

The fruit of the Holy Spirit should shine through us and be reflective of the words people use to describe us or the feelings they have when they are around us. In reality, you may be the opposite and filled with anger, frustration, shame, jealousy, worry, anxiety, worthlessness, dissatisfaction, impurity, or out of control.

As God changed my sinful ways and fruits started to appear, that impacted people more than all the words I spoke combined. People started to ask me questions about my faith, why I was so peaceful all the time, and how could I be this happy as they commented on these changes. People started to change their behavior around me, too, like cleaning up their language or gossiping which is a fruit right before my eyes.

The way we convert others’ hearts is how we love people. We need to love them where they are and love them differently. We also need to be joyful. Joy is the best net to catch fish. We must be joyful all the time in all circumstances, and we only do this by God’s grace. You may gasp and say, “How is that possible?” It is possible if we have a prayer life and each day surrender our life to God. When we ask God to help us accept our circumstances with joyful hearts and not to take our crosses away, sanctification begins. When God gives us crosses to bear, it’s best for us to say, “This is obviously Your Will, Lord. I do not like it and do not understand why it is happening, but it is not my place to ask. You have allowed it. I now pray for Your Grace to enter my heart and help me accept this and be joyful in this suffering.”

Let’s pray. Almighty God, with the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph, we ask that you sanctify, purify, and bring truth to our hearts. Give us the desire to pray, learn and preach. Give us the knowledge and understanding of our faith, but in relationship with you through prayer, give us Your Wisdom in our hearts. Drive our thoughts, words, and deeds with the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

How Do You Evangelize The Ones Closest To You? - Catholic Stand