On the occasion of the one year anniversary of the death of Fr. Tom Forrest on July 16, 2018, we've resurrected from our web archives one of his messages. Fr. Tom knew both St. John Paul II and St. Teresa of Calcutta personally and was a key leader in renewal and evangelization in the Catholic Church. 

Five Ways to Share the Gospel

Jesus wants our light to shine brighter and brighter.

By: Fr. Tom Forrest, C.Ss.R.

The most beautiful film I have ever seen depicting evangelization is a Protestant film called The Miracle of Taxilla. Taxilla is the name of a hospital in Pakistan. It is the very best eye hospital in that country, and it’s staffed primarily by two Christian doctors: a man from England and a woman from India. These two doctors are not there to make money, but because they want to share the love of Jesus Christ.

As the film begins, a Muslim man comes walking to the hospital, guided by two friends because he can’t see a thing. When he comes into the examining room, one of the doctors shines a flashlight into his eyes, and there is no reaction. The light doesn’t penetrate at all. Then they operate on him, and we see him leaving the hospital with bandages covering both eyes, accompanied once more by his two friends. A day or two later, the man comes back to have his bandages removed. After taking off the bandages, the doctor waves his hands in front of the man’s eyes. And we see a beautiful smile come on this old man’s face. He lifts up his eyes, and tears begin rolling down his face. He can see!

In this film, the doctor and the staff tell why they are doing this work. Out of love for Jesus, they want to repeat the kindness of Christ who walked from town and village giving sight to the blind and hearing to the deaf. And as you see a man who is blind begin to see, not only do you see tears running down his cheeks, but you put your hand to your face and find the same happening to you. The film ends with this man leaving the hospital, but now he doesn’t need his two friends to help him. As he walks away, he turns back and sees the two doctors, and he waves, and he goes home.

We Are Carriers of the Light!

What a kind thing to do--to give sight to the blind! But this is your job. Your job is to carry on the mission of Jesus Christ. This world of darkness seems to use more lights than it could ever need: the lights of Broadway and Piccadilly Circus, the lights shining out of television sets and shining down on movie screens, the lights hanging over the streets of perversion in our major cities. But none of it is real.

We are carriers of the real light, and when we give sight to the spiritually blind, what can they see? Sometimes, for the very first time in their lives, they can see the greatness of the love of God for them just as that Muslim man did. They can see, perhaps for the first time in their lives, something that God has always seen in them: goodness, because God is bringing that goodness back into the light, back to life. They can see their value as beloved sons and daughters of God. They can see the goodness of others when before they were looking at everyone in the world and thinking that all of them were only evil and bad. They can see the truth that can set them free. And someday, because you brought them into the light, they will see the face of God.

"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God" (Matthew 5:8). That’s giving sight to the blind. And if you do that, if you make an effort to do it, if you give up a little bit of time, you will see results. Here’s Jesus’ call to Paul: ?I have made you a light to the nations, a means of salvation to the ends of the earth? (Acts 26:17-18). And he tells each of us that we must speak the words of Christ now. We must be the light of the world.

Turn On the Power.

Now we all know how big a job it is to get the power back on in this world of darkness. It’s a big job because the devil seems to have all the power. Even some Christians believe he really does have all the power. As soon as they see a problem, they give up. They say, "What can we do? After all, we’re only human." But in Jesus Christ, we humans can be divinized; we can be made like God.

Now my little light, your little light, all by itself could never do this job. That’s why the Holy Spirit wants us to work together. Every one of you is an utterly distinct, magnificently unique work of the creative mind of God. Each of you has your own particular light. But if we want the world to see, we have to bring our lights together and become a people of the light, shining with the wonder and beauty of Jesus Christ. We have to be lamps, burning with the light of Christ.

What do you do with a lamp? Well, Jesus tells us what not to do with it, even though too many of us do it anyway. We shove it under the table and hide it. No, Jesus tells us to place it on the tabletop, "so that those entering the room can see" (Luke 11:33). It’s up to you. And if you don’t do it, there’s someone out there who won’t see because you didn’t let your light shine. In order that the whole world can come to see, our lamps must come together, resplendent, as Scripture says, like a city on the mountaintop, shining like a beacon light at sea, leading people to the safe harbor, Jesus Christ.

Now, throughout Scripture, God calls us to be nothing less than light to the world. Each one of these is a phrase from Scripture: angels of the light, messengers of the light, children of the light. Do you see the emphasis? We’re called to be people of the light, disciples of the light, until we all one day come together. I’ll see you there, in the heavenly Jerusalem, where “there will be no need of sun or moon, for the glory of God gave it light and the light was the Lamb and the nations shall walk by that light” (Revelation 21:23).

What Can I Do? Five Ways to Share the Gospel.

1) Pray. Devote a part of your regular prayer time to interceding for one or two people whom you think God wants to touch. Be persistent, and trust that the Lord hears you. Also, develop the habit of listening to the Spirit and getting used to his promptings.

2) Forgive. Nothing robs us of our joy and dims the light of Christ in us as much as resentments and lack of forgiveness. It may take time, and we may need to keep going to Jesus for healing and guidance, but it is worth it. Perhaps you can begin by just telling him that you’re ready to be made willing to forgive and bless.

3) Help. Wherever possible, be willing to go out of your way to help people in need. From the local homeless shelter to the neighbor who is sick and would like a kindly visit, there are so many opportunities to share the light and love of Christ without saying a single word. Over time, your witness of loving service will open doors.

4) Smile. Check yourself in the course of the day: “Am I at peace right now? Do I know that the Father has my life in his hands? Can I give over to the Lord any anxiety or frustration?” The more you demonstrate the freedom and peace of Christ, the more your witness will touch others.

5) Share. Don’t be afraid to talk about your faith when the opportunity arises. Talk from your personal experience of how God has touched you, protected you or your family, or given you grace in a time of difficulty. Talk about how your experience of salvation in Christ has freed you from sin and given you confidence in the love God has for you.

Reprinted from The Word Among Us, with permission.


Photo by Kate Kalvach on Unsplash