Sometimes, I fear that we in Church have become embarrassed by and almost abandoned by the idea of evangelization. This is not without reason. Many have seen in recent years a brand of evangelism that is little more than beautifully packaged, slickly marketed religion. It isn’t surprising that we would disassociate ourselves from religious salesmanship, but we must not make the mistake of throwing out the baby with the bath water.
We need to be reminded that Jesus called people to follow Him and then sent them out to call others to do the same. On and on it went in a chain reaction of love until it reached all the way to the present. You and I are Christians today because someone reached us with the Gospel message. Does it not stand to reason that we should do the same for someone else? If this faith in Jesus is worth having at all, then it must surely be worth sharing with others — one person who has experienced faith in Christ openly and honestly commending it to another.
Back a few years, the Reader’s Digest carried the story of a dramatic rescue in the little town of Brownfield, Texas. On a hot July afternoon, on the west side of town, a large grain elevator had exploded and started to burn. Four men were killed outright, and three others died later. But most of the drama revolved around a young man who was trapped in a house, some hundred feet above the ground. All he could do was stand at the window and plead with the people below to help.
It was immediately obvious that the only hope of rescue was a helicopter. There was no way to reach him from the ground. A call went to a nearby Air Force base, and in a few minutes a helicopter was on the scene. But it was damaged in the initial rescue attempt and was forced to make an emergency landing in a nearby field. Then a call went out for a second helicopter. In the meantime, it seemed that nothing could be done but to wait and hope. So, most of the people waited and searched the skies for approaching help.
But in the crowd that day was a thoughtful young man who decided to do something more than wait and hope. He got in his truck, drove to the sight of the damaged helicopter, and requested the captain to radio the incoming helicopter to land and take him on board. His request was honored, and shortly he was high in the air, hovering above the elevator and the trapped man. The pilot moved into position; the two men locked arms; and together they were pulled into the safety of the chopper.
The point of the story is this — there were hundreds of people present that day. It would probably be safe to say that all of them cared. Many of them even prayed. But there was one young man who cared and prayed and acted. And it was his prayerful concern, coupled with his decisive action, that resulted in a dramatic rescue.
That is what we need. It isn’t enough to care. There must be someone who is willing to bridge the gap between concern and action. Positive action is the only kind of evangelism that makes any sense. Christ has called us to be “fishers of men,” and that means going out to bring others in.
How many can we persuade to come “home” to the Lord, to the Church and to the Sacraments?