Catholics can use past life events to share Gospel’s impact, Ward says
Livonia — Anyone can become an evangelist, and according to Ron Ward, everyone should become an evangelist.
But evangelization, like anything else, is a process, not a program, meant to be learned, practiced and done in order to spread God’s word.
Ward stated his case for evangelization as a process June 1 at St. Edith Parish in Livonia, presenting his talk: “Evangelization Made Easy.”
“We need to remind ourselves that evangelization is personal. Since it’s personal, then Jesus Christ is here with us tonight,” Ward said.
Ward said two primary reasons many Catholic choose not to evangelize is a fear of public speaking and fear of the “imposter syndrome,” not knowing enough to evangelize.
“We know a lot about Jesus and the Bible, but we hide behind what we don’t know,” Ward said. “In 2015, Pope Francis asked that we all be renewed in the New Evangelization, to be a witness of the love of Jesus Christ in one another.”
Ward, author of “How You Can Find God in Your Rearview Mirror,” said people can train themselves to become evangelists by reflecting on times when God had a direct impact on their lives.
“In the rear-view mirror process, look back to see what happened, reflect on it, use those experiences for evangelization,” Ward said. “What we have to do is simple, just do what Jesus did: show kindness, compassion, and have a personal relationship with Jesus.”
Using the “rear-view mirror process,” Ward told the group how God intervened in his own life. An Oklahoma native, Ward wanted to join the Navy to become a fighter pilot. In 1964, the Navy discharged him after doctors determined he was in the early stages of macular degeneration and would be blind by the time he was 25.
“I went back to the doctors in Oklahoma, who examined me and said the Navy made a mistake,” Ward said. “So I took up a life in corporate America, leaving the Navy behind, and missing the Gulf of Tonkin incident and the Vietnam War, one of the most deadly time periods to be a Navy pilot. That’s when I knew God played a role in my life.”
Ward’s talk at St. Edith was his sixth across the Archdiocese of Detroit coaching people on their role in the New Evangelization and their duty to spread God’s word. Ward, a member of St. James Parish in Novi, said programs such as Alpha and ChristLife are great starters for people to open up about their faith, but to become evangelists, more needs to be done.
“I’m a great promoter of the small group setting that meets regularly, but the difficulty is keeping Alpha going,” Ward said. “When people get to know each other, there is a personal connection. Hopefully, that leads to adopting a family for Christmas or connecting with other groups. We can’t just talk about the Gospel. We need to have a personal connection into the community, the lives of the people. That’s how we become true bearers of the word of God.”