You need not be a public speaker or author to share your Catholic faith story with the world, and Nancy Ward has proven that in her new book, Sharing Your Catholic Faith Story: Tools, Tips & Testimonies, published by The Word Works. In her book, Ward shows just how easy it can be to simply and spontaneously share with others how the Catholic faith has changed your life.
You need to do this, Ward states, because you are called to do it. “Whether you realize it fully or not, you – yes you! – And every baptized Christian inherit the Christ-given mission to evangelize,” she wrote.
“And whether you realize it or not, you, like every baptized Christian, have a story of what God has done to transform your life. Your story is intended to reach specific people and to impart God’s love to them, giving them hope. You alone are capable of reaching these particular people, because your unique story connects to theirs and because the Holy Spirit is already opening their hearts to the message they can hear only from you. Yes, someone is waiting for your story.”
Ward explains that faith stories recount significant events, circumstances, or trials resolved with supernatural solutions and can include stories about conversion from a non-Catholic tradition, a non-Christian faith, or even no faith at all; return to, or renewed faith within, the Catholic Church of our childhood; a call to a religious vocation; spiritual turning points that led us into deeper faith in God; physical or emotional healings from supernatural means; miracles that God works in our lives; and answered prayers that seem impossible or were resolved supernaturally. She then goes on to list numerous benefits of sharing your story with others.
An entire chapter is devoted to Mary, who epitomizes faith in God and exemplifies the motivation for becoming an evangelist by demonstrating what faith is.
“Mary’s powerful encounter with Gabriel compelled her to witness. The Holy Spirit overwhelmed her with such joy that she could only respond by telling those dearest to her what God had done in her – as the angel had directed her,” she wrote. According to Ward, Mary’s face story is her Magnificat and, like Mary, we can and must bring Christ to others.
Ward suggests starting with a spiritual journal and outlines best practices for keeping one. She then demonstrates how to discover your “Galilee Moment,” or the moment you encountered our Lord for the first time. She also outlines the three components of every faith story: 1) Who were you before your conversion, reversion, renewal, healing, or miracle happened? 2) What God-moment – or Galilee moment – changed you? 3) Who are you now? How is your life changed?
I especially liked Chapter 9: Gentleness and Reverence: Tips for Sharing Your Faith Story. In it, the author delineates 10 helpful tips that are essential to any good conversation about faith.
1.Be specific, not vague
2.Speak in the listener’s language
3.Speak with substance, not just emotion
4.Speak the truth
7.Don’t pick apart other people, churches, or ministries
8.Stick to your part of the story
9.Discreetly avoid sordid details
10.Relax. Speak matter-of-factly
I know that these 10 tips will be invaluable to me, not only in my public speaking and writing but also in my day-to-day encounters with other people.
Part 2 of Sharing Your Catholic Faith Story gives the testimonies of 30 Catholics who share their own Catholic faith stories. Each one is unique, each is compelling, and each adeptly illustrates the wisdom that Ward has given in the first part of her book.
Nancy Ward is a convert, journalist, author, and speaker who writes from Texas about Catholicism, conversion, and Christian community at NancyHCWard.com, JOYAlive.net, CatholicMom.com, and other magazines and websites. Through her Sharing Your Catholic Faith Story workshops and DVD, she shares her conversion story at Catholic parishes and conferences where she equips others to share their own stories. I’m delighted that now she has compiled her tried-and-true methods and tools into a book that will be a blessing to the Church.
Where to get your copy of Sharing Your Catholic Faith Story: Tools, Tips & Testimonies: