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[caption id="attachment_1920" align="alignright" width="200"] Blog by Associate Carol Lemelin, OPA[/caption] St. Paul was a man who threw himself into his work, passionately sure of the rightness of his causes.  He was a diligent persecutor of Christians and was heading to Damascus at full speed to round up the followers of Christ and bring them to justice when God intervened. Knowing Paul very well, God stopped him in his tracks with a dramatic flash of light, which threw him off his horse and blinded him.  God knew when to fight fire with fire. Thus began the transformation of Paul of Tarsus from enemy to friend. As the transformation progressed Paul did not change personalities because God needed him just the way he was to spread the Good News, he just changed his perspective and understanding of Jesus of Nazareth and what He would mean to the world. Armed with his usual single-minded drive, Paul set out on the greatest evangelical journey in history.  He went from place to place proclaiming Christ as the Messiah, but like all forceful people he sometimes worried that he was too forceful, that he might be turning people off with his approach. The Jews were not responding and he had gotten angry and stormed off.  One night as he slept, God spoke to him: “Do not be afraid. Go on speaking; do not be silent, for I am with you.” (Acts 18:9-18) Most people shy away from the idea of evangelizing; it sounds as though they are expected to be like St. Paul, which does not come naturally to them, but the important part of God’s command is ”Do not be silent, for I am with you.” Those are words we should keep in the forefront of our thoughts when the occasion arises.  No one expects you to preach like Paul but to be yourself and say simple things like: “I believe in Jesus and I think you would too if you knew Him. He can change your life and give you hope.” There was once a Jewish man named Apollos who came to Ephesus.  He was a believer and it was said of him: “He gave great assistance to those who had come to believe through grace”. (Acts:18:23-28)   It’s as simple as that.  We shy away from speaking, afraid of the reaction.  We forget we are not alone! Look about you. The power of Christ to change lives is from God, you are simply the instrument he uses to enrich the lives of his creation. If God were not the driving force behind Paul’s ministry and that of the the other early believers, Christianity would have died in infancy. As it is, Christianity has survived every test and will continue to do so until God decides it is enough. You must believe that God is at the center of it all, that we are not alone, and never will be. See in his words to Paul the promise of everlasting companionship and be brave. There are people who need to know Jesus and when you encounter them hear the words of God: “Do not be silent.  I am with you.”   

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