When Diane Steinbrecher received an invitation to evangelization training, images of knocking on doors, handing out pamphlets, and asking complete strangers if they had accepted Jesus as their personal Savior came to mind. By the end of her training, however, she realized her images of evangelization had been distorted. “I learned that evangelization begins with my own close connection with Christ. From there, it is really about looking very close to home—the people already in your life—and praying about who God is leading to you, to further their relationship with God.”
Diane took the training to heart and began praying for God to guide her steps. A woman in her neighborhood, a woman she knew very little about, came to mind. “I heard her husband had been in the hospital and that she was sort of a recluse because of anxiety. I started praying for her, asking God to direct my approach.”
Within a few days, Diane walked down the road bearing cookies and a note with her contact information. She took a chance and knocked on the door. Diane was pleasantly surprised when the woman timidly emerged and had a short conversation with her.
Diane continued to pray for her neighbor and a few days later offered to get her groceries. To Diane’s surprise, the woman decided to join her at the store! She was visibly nervous on the trip, even texting Diane a few times when they split up to do their shopping. “I was kind of dumbfounded how she trusted me so much, when I, too, was a virtual stranger.”
Quickly, they built bonds of trust and friendship. Diane continued to offer her help with groceries and talked with her over the phone. Before long, the woman opened up about her loneliness and despair and brought up the topic of faith. In just over two weeks, Diane had befriended a neighbor she had barely known before. “It was astounding to me; definitely not my normal. I really think it is because I covered it first in prayer. It was all God’s design. He put the seed and direction in my heart and took away my neighbor’s fear of me.”
When her neighbor’s husband passed away shortly after the start of their friendship, Diane was even more convinced of God’s providence in bringing the two of them together. “She dropped into a deep depression and more severe anxiety dealing with tension with out-of-town family as well. She barely survived it all.” She called Diane for relief and support, asking for and accepting the help she needed. “I was able to pray with her over the phone when she hit bottom and couldn’t get past the next moment.”
Over the course of a year, Diane poured herself out for her neighbor with phone calls, rides to doctors’ visits, and prayer. “God was present in every conversation,” Diane said. “She is now more solid on her feet and doesn’t call me much anymore. I look back at this relationship and see that God established our communication just before she would really need a friend to lean on.”
The relationship changed Diane, too. Her trust in God grew deep and strong. She says she went “from scared to sacred. Those two little letters are transposed when I let Him lead. His way is perfect.” God calmed her fears about evangelization, about initiating a new friendship, even about her neighbor asking for more than she could give. “There was always a good balance, and it was almost always rewarding, too.” Diane’s reliance on Christ in prayer allowed her to let go of fear and follow God’s lead to reach out to someone who not only needed to hear the good news proclaimed but who needed to have Jesus’ love shown to her through a friend. Through the process, Diane learned that even though it was God who sent her on this mission, “He is really loving me, not just what I’m doing for Him.” Diane has lived her apostolate confidently knowing that God’s love casts out fear to create something beautiful and holy.