So missionary life can be pretty random. I mean, when your asking the Lord to reveal to you how He wants you to spend your day lovin’ on people, you never really know what you’re going to get.
Case in point:
We had an hour and a half off yesterday. I, being a boy, spent it eating and sleeping. Waking up at 2:30, I get told that the training conference on door-to-door ministry (think Jehovah Witnesses…) we are attending now includes a healthy portion of time during which we will be knocking on doors.
O’ Joy of joys…
(Yeah, that was sarcasm)
Now I’m pretty sure I don’t have to go into the reasons I had some inhibitions rising with the report of this news, not only from any previous experiences of answering those knocks but even the idea of being the person doing the knocking. In my mind, door-to-door ministry was a “you’d better accept Christ or risk burning in eternal hell fire” kind of deal, no where near the business of love.
Ironically, this mindset was exactly what the training preached against. These two little nuns (I <3 me some habit wearing nuns) giving the training explained that while that was the common perception of what door to door ministry was, it was no where near our mission. Our mission instead was to love and invite.
No planned conversations.
We simply introduce ourselves and offer ourselves and the parish we were representing to fill any needs or to offer any prayers. From there, we just loved.
No talk of heaven or hell.
So fastforward to the streets. I’m partnered up with my missionary sister Jordan and even with this new understanding of this mission , we both are feeling a little more than unequipped.
Praise God, He is a God who provides.
We knocked on about 15 doors in that hour. About half were home. Each was incredible.
One glory story.
Jordan and I knock on one door about 8 houses into the experience with a great track record. Most of our contact has been with Catholic families who are very welcoming, already attending Masses, and willing to pray with us. Even those who haven’t been Catholic have all been really open to us.
So we knock.
Immediately the sounds of 243985309 rabid dogs roar through what has just become the thinnest piece of wood in existence.
We hear the door unlock and I think to myself, “Seriously, this person is going to open this door and unleash the fury of hell upon us?!?!”
The door cracks, tethered closed by a thin golden chain. A voice manages to speak through the chaos and asks for a second.
The door closes again, muffling the pack of beasts and we hear the same voice guide them outside.
The door opens again as I wipe the sweat from my brow and introduce myself to a young woman in her late 20’s.
An awkward start, yes. But, oh, does God work.
Through our conversation, we find out that this young woman grew up Catholic and was even heavily involved in her parishes youth ministry program as a teen. It was from her involvement there, however, that she experienced something so many of us Catholics and non-catholics alike have grown to despise: the politics of a Church, politics working unjustly.
She explains to us that she has lost faith in organized religion and has not been to a Catholic Church, or any other church, since high school.
Love. That’s all we have to give.
I know where she’s been. Having worked in a parish for two years and been close to people in the diocesan offices, I’ve seen it. I’ve felt the disappointment of it all.
I share a little of my experiences with her, sharing a little of myself. We invite her to Mass, offering a bulletin with times and she takes it letting us know that she’s not sure if she’s ready yet, but that she is interested in getting back into the faith.
We talk some more about how she desires to know the Church again, for it to be home again, and the need for healing. We invite her to pray with us, but she instead asks us to pray for her. It almost seems like a lost victory, until we hear what she says next. It’s simple, but means so much.
“I feel really comfortable talking with you about this.”
There is the victory. Not that we know that she is returning to the Church. Not that she is going to Confession for the first time in 10+ years. Not that this was a moment of conversion. But simply that we were able to be Christ to her.
To love her.
To invite her home.
The Lord does not ask for us to be successful, but for us to be faithful. We responded to His call, and we gave this young woman His love, His invitation. We were able to put a new face on this Church for her, not one of staunch politics or beauracrats, but one of gentleness and love.
I don’t know what will come of this encounter or any of the others we had that afternoon, but I trust that in our faithfullness, God is working. Not in the ways we would plan or will ever see, but that He is moving in hearts, planting the smallest of seeds.