Conversion Story

We’ve launched a new video series at work called Caffeine and Catholicism, designed to be your quick jolt for living out the Catholic faith

In this premiere episode (seen below) we’ll answer the age old question: how do you convert your friends and family?

As I discussed in the video, years ago I worked in the IT industry, leading teams to develop software systems, which gave me the awesome opportunity to work with a wide and diverse range of people.

Around that same time (late 90’s/early 2000’s), I was experiencing a re-awakening of my faith, and an absolutely unquenchable desire to save souls for Jesus Christ.

Like many people, I had friends and family members who had long ago fallen away from the faith, but everyday at my job I worked with people who had no faith at all.

One of my co-workers was a programmer named Ram (short for Sriman), and we went to lunch together frequently where one day I learned that Ram really had no idea who this Jesus Christ guy was.

Here was my opportunity. *I* was going to convert Ram. Over the course of sweet and sour chicken, *I* would get Ram to give his life to Christ.

So I laid it all out. We’re all sinners. We needed redemption. Jesus died on the Cross for our sins so we could go to heaven. It’s all right there in the Bible. Why wouldn’t Ram want that?

But he didn’t. He thought it was a nice story, but meant nothing to him. This was my first experience of eating a major heaping helping of humble pie when it came to sharing my faith.

Over time, I had similar conversations with other friends and family members and they all had the same response: crickets. No interest. Nothing.

Over time – and thanks be to God – I realized that my first problem here is that I wasn’t truly trying to convert Ram for Ram’s sake, or even better, for God’s sake. I was doing it for my own sake, to take credit for it, as if I had a sales quota that had to be met. We seek conversion of souls for the sake of the kingdom of God, so that others choose something not just because we believe it’s a good thing, but because God loves them and wants them to choose God.

So the conclusion I finally came to was that perhaps my witty words of wisdom were not what Ram needed. What would have made a greater impact would be for Ram to see Christ’s light shining through me. Because when we allow the joy of Christ to shine from us, that light of Christ is what will draw people closer to Him, far more than words.

St. Philip Neri said, “First let a little love find entrance into their hearts, and the rest will follow.”

Through our loving actions, our bold loving witness, our lovingly patient example, and sometimes by just lovingly keeping our mouths shut, we can often have major impact on the lives of others. Or rather – Christ THROUGH us – can.

Rather than just seizing opportunities to speak, pray that the Holy Spirit will provide the right moments, and the right words to say.

A bishop once told St. Monica – the mother of St. Augustine, who initially did everything he could to run away from God – to “Speak less to Augustine about God and more to God about Augustine.”

In most cases, private prayer softens hearts far better than beating people over the head with a Scripture stick ever will.

So how do you convert your friends and family?

More than anything, keep in mind that it’s not you that will convert anyone’s heart. It’s Jesus Christ, listening to our prayers and working through willing and loving disciples, that will do the heavy living.

Share your stories (of success and failure) of sharing the faith in the comments below!

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About the Author
Greg is married to Jennifer. They've got five kids.

10 comments on Conversion Story

  1. Good video, well produced and written. Although from the title, I thought this was going to be Greg’s conversion story. A promising start; I am unclear about the title Caffeine and Catholicism. I don’t hear it and think “I want to listen to that!” When I hear caffeine, I think of coffee. I don’t like coffee.

    1. Greg says:

      Too late to change the title now. We already filmed and edited seven 🙂 We were going for something fun and different. Caffeine gives you a jolt. These are segments meant to jolt you into action regarding your faith.

  2. Mike says:

    What you say is correct up to a point. Pope Paul VI, in 1975, issued his Apostolic Exhortation, Evangeli Nuntiandi. He said much the same as what you are saying but also added:
    22. Nevertheless this always remains insufficient, because even the finest witness will prove ineffective in the long run if it is not explained, justified – what Peter called always having “your answer ready for people who ask you the reason for the hope that you all have”[52] – and made explicit by a clear and unequivocal proclamation of the Lord Jesus. The Good News proclaimed by the witness of life sooner or later has to be proclaimed by the word of life. There is no true evangelization if the name, the teaching, the life, the promises, the kingdom and the mystery of Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God are not proclaimed.

    1. It is true that we must give an explanation for our Faith when appropriate, but we must always follow an intuition given by the Holy Spirit as to what people are open to and what they are not open to.

  3. elizabeth says:

    My son does not attend Mass. As a daughter of a father who fell away from his faith and the wife of a husband who does not embrace Christianity anymore, I have embraced an “apostolate of Extraordinary Love.” I listen and let my son and husband know that I love them right where they are, right now. Of course, I am praying intensely and fiercely as well as doing penance for them. But in normal human interactions, I go out of my way to engage, be present and love them right where they are. I have learned two things: to love the person as they are in the present, and that I don’t convert them — the Holy Spirit does.

  4. Genevive says:

    Most of my family ( Catholics under the Pope) are in the New age and one in Islam. I have first tried telling them about God. They didn’t respond and also for most part ignored me. I stopped telling them and just tried to be there for them. Of late they have been spreading lies about me and causing rifts with other family members. So now I just keep praying for them and tell God more about them……

    1. Joe says:

      I am so sorry to hear your story Genevive…we share the same cross. But prayer, witness, and perseverence DO help. It has taken over 30years but I am starting to see some faith peek out of one or two of my family members. Pray to St Monica too. I’ll pray for you also.
      God Bless You
      Joe

      1. Genevive says:

        Thanks Joe. Your prayers are much appreciated. I am a total failure when it comes to this topic. But I did win one soul over, my husband. It was tough initially but I am pretty sure the Holy Spirit intervened. Will never give up. Thank you again.

  5. Xavier Abraham says:

    You are correct, and that is also the reason why Mother Teresa alone had a greater success in making Christ known to more people in a foreign land, than the centuries long efforts from European missionaries.

  6. SanSan says:

    Yes, Greg, I also have learned this the hard way. I needed to “shut up” and remember “actions speak louder than words”. Everyday I try to behave in a loving, kind and gentle matter….no easy task for a “taskmaster”! I’m a teacher at heart and sometimes my zeal for Our Dear Lord goes on autopilot and I get in the way. I’m praying and working on increasing in virtues so that my “root character” flaws are deminished. Having a “history” with people, it has taken many years to “undo” how they perceive me…..until that is achieved, I don’t stand a chance helping with the cause of saving their souls……Praise the Lord, that all things are possible with God…..:) Peace. btw, found your site on Catholic Treasury.

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