There were five of us. Emily was home recovering from sickness. We cranked up the music and cruised down the highway to our first Friday night lights experience in The Woodlands, Texas (North Houston).
Drunk on the Holy Spirit
If anyone was walking by as we got out of the 15 passenger van, it’s likely that they thought we were a group of intoxicated teenagers. I’m not ashamed though. After all, the first missionaries of our Church were declared to “have had too much new wine” (Acts 2:13) at a time when they had just been filled with the very REAL PRESENCE of the Holy Spirit. We were excited. And not just for football.
Our mission every Friday night is to evangelize. Simply put, evangelization is spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ. The ultimate goal of evangelization is to help others experience the love of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (CCC 850). [More evangelization references: CCC 429, 848-851]
How Do You Evangelize at a Football Game?
If the hour-late delay or the chaos of the teenagers didn’t shake our spirits, maybe it was the pouring rain that doused the flame previously present in our hearts.
I think the following question hit all of us at some point: “How does one evangelize teenagers at a High School football game in Texas?” I think if you asked any of the other missionaries with me that night they’d give you a similar answer: “We don’t really know.”
Even still, we put our hoodies and jackets on and climbed up the bleachers to the student section. Most of the young men had their shirts off. Many of the ladies were dressed to impress (and I don’t mean in formal clothes). Obscenities were being yelled every other play, and we stuck out like a flamingo in a flock of penguins.
I stood there with Narquita in the pouring rain next to some crazy teens. We would cheer a little, then try and ask the teen next to us about how the team was doing this year; occasionally, we’d glance at each other with a look that said, “What in the world are we supposed to do?”
Evangelization is a Process
I am realizing more and more that evangelization is a process. Think about the priests, sisters and lay missionaries of the past who traveled to foreign lands to spread the love of Christ. Many stories of the conversion of communities in foreign lands took the commitment of several missionaries over the span of decades.
We didn’t stand in the pouring rain that night because we knew that teens would suddenly be converted by our presence or by what we had to say. We stood in the pouring rain that night because it’s our call and we love Jesus. We’ve been called to make disciples of all nations (Mt 28:19), and for us that specific mission is to teenagers.
Evangelization is the Beginning of Discipleship
I am confident that Saint Paul fully understood this as he traveled from one nation to another preaching, teaching, and serving. Take a look at what he writes about himself and those who had helped the community grow in faith:
“I planted, Apollos watered, but God caused the growth. Therefore, neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who causes the growth.” - 1 Corinthians 3:6-7
I am NOTHING without God. Ah… I’m relieved. After all, that’s how I felt standing in the rain with a bunch of rowdy teenagers.
We will continue to go to football games, rain or shine. We will hang out at the mall and strike up conversations with teens we’ve never met. We will be crazy for the sake of Jesus Christ.
The invisible and ever-present God will cause the growth and we will be faithful co-workers in the vineyard (1 Cor 3:9).
Who is God calling you to evangelize today?