The Ugly Side of Evangelization
In this missionary life we love to share the glory stories and the happy times but sometimes there is no glory story, sometimes we just have a story of ugly evangelization. The mission in which we work has zones that have been without the presence of the church, without the presence of the Gospel and without the message of Mercy. When we come into these rare places what we often find is not beautiful but indeed very ugly, saturated in sin and to some without any hope. For this reason I think they persist in this state because those who come to them, many times from the Church, look at them and say to them this is too ugly. There is no hope here and they move on to another place. They are passed over year after year, and their souls are ever longing for the mercy of Jesus to come to them. Yet as the years pass they fall further and further into the pit of sin and despair with a lack of Jesus in their life.
Now one could ask, Taylor how bad could it really be? Well in one such town many of the people are living in polygamous homes, with many cases of normalized rape and incest. For me what was worse was they had no hope of salvation. When we first arrived they asked us not to waste our time with them. They told us they couldn't have a Christian community in their town because of their sin. After listening and getting to know them over the next couple of months we came to understand why they would say such a thing and why so many before us just moved on. Their stories were filled with abuse and neglect, they were sad, ugly and I too thought of running away like so many have. How do you find resolution to mend lives that are so twisted? How do you bring people into the light that have been in the dark for so long? There is only one answer… the Mercy of Jesus!
So we started with the Kerygma, which is Salvation History 101. After hearing this a little spark of light appeared in the darkness and they wanted this Jesus and His Love. This Love was unlike the love they have known and they were very skeptical that they could receive it. They desired to know more and how they can be apart of this Love.
As we studied they got more and more excited. It was then that they asked about the sacraments. It was during our classes on preparing for the sacraments that again things get a little ugly. The norm here is that when adults come into the church they receive all of the sacraments they are missing in one day together (It could be a combination of any of the sacraments- baptism, first communion, first reconciliation, confirmation and marriage), but in the room most of the couples then asked, Who do I marry? You see in this room most couples were one man and two wives, both of whom have children with him and depend on him finically. So the discussion that followed moved to a brief and intense class on the Theology of the Body for beginners. By the end the wives were crying and very happy having heard about true love for the first time and the men were very angry and for a moment I did fear my well being. Although this was a great moment for this community of new believers, it didn't make this easier but in fact just a lot more complex. Now all of these women want to enter the church and in full communion with God, but they all share a husband. The reality is like I stated in the beginning this is an ugly situation and to this day there is no good answer; just that they now have the message of Mercy, the Word of God and the never ending TRUE LOVE of Jesus (that they have always had but now can see).
There is no magic button or perfect ending because there is an ugliness to sin and the longer we live in it the messier it is, but Jesus came, died and was raised from the dead for ALL. NOW its our job to get down in the gutter and do some ugly evangelization with the people who others think are too far gone. Bring them the message of Mercy and the Hope of Jesus Christ today!