The Power of Witnessing

Dr. Honora Norton

Dr. Honora Norton

Years ago in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis reminded us that “every baptized person is called to give witness, with their words and with their lives ….” He asked, “Who is the witness?” And what do we need to do to become a witness? He said that there are three qualifications of a witness: “The witness is one who has seen, who remembers, and who recounts. To see, to remember, and to tell, are the three verbs that describe the identity and mission of the witness.”

Rev. Wilfred Yinah, parochial administrator at St. Steven’s Roman Catholic Church in Sun Lakes, on the third Sunday of Easter, provided a job description of one who has faith—to be a witness and tell people the good news of the Holy Spirit and that the power of the Holy Spirit brings truth and is a principal agent of evangelization.

Over the years, I have learned to be intentional, flexible, and deliberate in my witnessing approach to sharing the gospel and building relationships. I stay open and approachable and find a setting to learn from the spiritual journeys of others and myself, as well as the Holy Spirit’s work. I take a genuine interest in others and seek to understand them, to accept my mistakes and use them as an opportunity to grow, to have a compassionate heart, and to treat people with love and respect.

When witnessing, listen to, embrace, and trust the Holy Spirit’s guidance and calling. And watch as the Holy Spirit works through each of us to transform lives. Each of us is empowered to be an effective witness of the Holy Spirit who gives us love and self-discipline.

There are many ways to witness. Sharing a particular verse can reset you for a better day and may open conversation with someone about the Holy Spirit. Through service, extend a caring and helping hand to those in need. Invite others to worship, pray, and/or sing with you. Reach out to others, especially youth, with life-teaching conversations. Per Rev. Wilfred, do not be shy—be bold and tell it like it is and stay faithful to the end.

Witnessing is a powerful and effective means of presenting the message of stewardship—the grateful giving of one’s time, talent, and resources through hospitality, prayer, formation, and service. Share your own stories of witnessing God’s generosity.

Consider the Golden Rule guidelines of witnessing—put yourself in other people’s shoes and do to others as you would have them do to you—be honest, prepare, listen and answer, take your time, treat time as a friend not enemy, remain calm, and don’t avoid difficult questions.

The benefits of witnessing may be experiencing peace, receiving direction and purpose in our lives, experiencing how we can change our lives, and inspire spiritual growth.

As Rev. Wilfred ended his homily—go out and witness—tell the story of the Holy Spirit.

Dr. Honora Norton is a Gilbert resident, lifelong Roman Catholic, and Sun Lakes St. Steven’s Catholic Church parishioner with a doctorate in ministry. Since 2008, Dr. Norton has supported the Arizona Interfaith Movement Council and serves on the Emeritus Board of Catholic Charities Community Services after serving a two-year term as its board chair.