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Monday, June 23, 2014

"I Think I Can!" The Little Catholic Evangelist Who Could

by Susan Fox

I met my twin on Twitter.

Michelle Gonzales is nobody -- like me, but much younger
Twitter Evangelist Michelle Gonzales
can be found on Twitter
at @Dare_2_Believe_
and prettier. That’s good because she’ll be on this earth longer sharing the truth of the Gospel.

She’s got a big heart for God and for Catholic evangelization. She heard Catholic Evangelist Tim Staples speak and that was it for her.  She wants a degree in theology.

But God doesn’t chose important people who can outthink every atheist on the net to witness on His behalf. No, my friend is physically handicapped, and sometimes unsure of her ability to speak to others. The mockery of atheists unnerves her.  But she does it anyway. I originally was attracted to her because of her thoughtful Catholic photos and stories. They showed she had a good mind, and truly understood the faith.
She reminded me of the mighty warrior Gideon from the tribe of Manasseh who appears in the Book of Judges, chapters 6-8.

The hostile neighboring nation of Midian was harassing the Israelites. They would get the crops into the ground and the Midianites would descend like locusts spoiling everything the Israelites worked so hard to produce. There was nothing left to eat!

God allowed the Midianites to harass the Israelites because they were not faithful to what they have been given. They fell into idolatry of the Canaanite gods, and the accompanying practices of religious prostitution and child slaughter.

So an angel of the Lord shows up one day on Gideon’s doorstep while he was frantically threshing the wheat inside the wine press to keep it hidden from those thieving Midianites!

The angel addresses him as a “valiant warrior” and announces that God is with him.

Michelle shares images like this online as a means
of evangelization
Gideon responded very cautiously, “Excuse me, my lord, but if Yahweh is with us, why is all this happening to us? And where are all his miracles which our ancestors used to tell us about when they said, "Did not Yahweh bring us out of Egypt?" But now Yahweh has deserted us; he has abandoned us to Midian.” This sounds almost exactly like the atheists I meet on Twitter. They claim they’ve never seen any sign of God, nor witnessed any miracles in our day and age. 

But the Angel of Yahweh turned to him and said, “Go in this strength of yours, and you will rescue Israel from the power of Midian. Am I not sending you myself?” Often that’s my response to the atheists when they blame God for the evils of the world: “If you find suffering, it’s there because of your indifference. You go fix it. That’s why God made you.”

But Gideon knew it was not within his power to rescue Israel from the power of Midian. “Forgive me, my lord, but how can I deliver Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh and I am the least important of my father's family.”

Doesn’t that remind you of St. Elizabeth greeting Mary, pregnant with Jesus, “Who am I that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”

Or Moses -- shoes off in the presence of the Burning Bush, facing an impossible mission and stuttering -- “I cannot speak!” He couldn’t. That’s why God gave him his brother Aaron to speak for him.

Or my young twitter friend wondering how to answer atheists when she doesn’t feel comfortable doing so.

“I shall be with you and you will crush Midian as though it were one man,” the Lord answers Gideon.

Gideon wasn’t born yesterday. He knew this could be an illusion or a figment of his imagination as Twitter atheists often claim when Christians say they know God personally.

So Gideon says, “If I have found favor in your sight, give me a sign that you are speaking to me. Please do not go away from here until I come back to you, bringing you my offering and laying it before you.”

And the angel replied, “I shall stay until you come back.” And he did. It must have been a long time that he waited because they didn’t have microwaves in those days. And Gideon brought back the meat of a young goat he prepared plus unleavened bread and broth.

The Angel of Yahweh burns up Gideon's sacrifice
The angel told him to place these things on a rock, and he touched the food with the staff he was carrying, and it burst into flames before Gideon’s startled eyes, an offering to God. Then the Angel of Yahweh vanished.

Down you go, Baal!

The first task God gave Gideon was to tear down the altar of the god Baal belonging to his own father. Gideon took 10 servants and did it, but in the middle of the night because he was frightened of his own family and the townspeople. Does that sound like the actions of a “Mighty Warrior?”

I once did the same thing. I worked for a newspaper and one of my co-workers had a picture of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta taped onto his computer. He had drawn obscene symbols over the picture. I told my husband about it, and he gave me permission to tear the picture down, but insisted I do it secretly lest someone harm me afterwards. So I did. And nobody knew.

But the townspeople found out that Gideon had destroyed the altar of Baal, and they demanded his death!  His father was smart and said if Baal is a god, let him plead for himself now that Gideon has destroyed his altar. Of course, Baal wasn’t real so nothing happened to Gideon. And he organized his people to fight  Midian.

He asks God for two more signs --  to make sure he is not deceived. Actually, this is a very good pattern, though it’s not revealed in the Old Testament. Ask for three signs: one for the Father, one for the Son, and one for the Holy Spirit. Three times in the Garden of Gethsemane, Mark reports that Jesus says, “Abba, Father. Everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” This cup referred to Jesus’ crucifixion, which took place the next day.

I once had to blow the whistle on a person who ran an organization because it was revealed to me that he had not followed the rules of the group. He was cheating. I wanted to make sure this was indeed what God wanted so I asked for three signs.

The first sign I designated was to see geese flying.
The next day there were flocks and flocks of geese flying in formation. I swear I have never seen as many geese in my whole life before or since.

There was a second sign on the second day: I found where it said in our organization’s handbook that this was actually my duty to report this abuse. And on the third day, I sought  direction from a someone in authority.  He told me to blow the whistle. I did, and the evil was stopped.

Gideon squeezes the fleece 
So Gideon said to God, “If it is really you delivering Israel by means of me, as you have said, look, I am going to put a woolen fleece on the threshing-floor; if (after tonight) there is dew only on the fleece and all the ground stays dry, then I shall know that you will deliver Israel by means of me, as you have said.”

Next morning, Gideon got up and squeezed the fleece and wrung enough dew out of it to fill a cup! But the ground was dry.

Then he requested the third sign, another fleece test. This time he wanted God to leave the fleece alone, but to put dew all over the ground. 

And God did so that night. The fleece stayed dry while the ground was wet with dew. (Atheists note: this is an empirical form of evidence.)

So a huge army of Israel began to amass at En-Harod, while the camp of Midian was to the north under the Hill of Moreh in the valley. This did not please God.

Yahweh said to Gideon, “There are too many people with you for me to put Midian into their power; Israel might claim the credit for themselves at my expense: they might say, ‘My own hand has rescued me.’”

So God tells Gideon to send back “anyone trembling from fear.”  That eliminated 22,000 Israelites. Only 10,000 remained.

Now they all went down to the water to drink. And this part is gross because it is obvious the Israelites had rather primitive drinking habits. God ordered Gideon to separate those who lapped the water like a dog, and those who drank it cupping their hands. Only 300 chose to cup the water with their hands! The rest of the 10,000 drank like dogs. Sure enough, God sent the 10,000 minus 300 back!

These kinds of details are interesting because of the accusations against Scripture that it is all rehashed made-up stories. If it was made up, why not pretty up the Israelites so they don’t lap the water like a dog? Very little of this entire story, or the whole Old Testament for that matter, is complementary to the Israelite people.

God decided that with only 300 Israelites, He would smash the power of Midian, which had been harassing Israel for seven long years. The Bible tells us that  “Midian, Amalek and all the sons of the East were deployed in the valley as thick as locusts; their camels were as innumerable as the sand on the seashore.”

These were brave men willing to go up against such a large army with only 300 men. But their confidence was in God, not themselves.  And so it was on Twitter when Michelle and I  faced down a group of atheists together.

Giving his men a horn, an empty pitcher and a torch, Gideon struck at night. He told his men to blow their horns, and shout, "For Yahweh and for Gideon!”

Gideon blows the horn throwing the enemy's camp
into confusion  
This they did, standing around the enemy’s camp blowing their horns, shouting and smashing their pitchers. They made a big noise.

The whole camp was thrown into confusion. Literally, the men in the enemy’s camp started killing each other while the 300 Israelites watched. Those who lived fled, and the leaders were all captured and killed. The Israelites took control of strategic water points as far as Beth-Barah and the Jordan.  One hundred and twenty thousand men with arms had fallen.

Forgetting what God had done for them, “The men of Israel said to Gideon, 'Rule over us, you, your son and your grandson, since you have rescued us from the power of Midian.'”

But Gideon replied, “I will not rule you, neither will my son. Yahweh shall rule you.”

Unfortunately, after Gideon’s death, the Israelites forgot that God had saved them from the Midianites, and they began to prostitute themselves to the Baals, taking Baal-Berith for their god.

Gideon’s response, “Yahweh shall rule you,” reminds me of Jesus’ frustration with the Jews of His time when they demanded a sign like Moses gave their fathers in the desert --manna out of heaven.

"Truly, truly, I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread out of heaven. ‘For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world.’" (John 6:32-33) He referred to Himself: "I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.” (John 6:32-33)

In Jesus’ time the Jews forgot to thank God for their blessings. The Old Testament is the history of the people of God reflecting on their own forgetfulness and its consequences. But they also remember how God came time after time to save them despite their stubborn pride. 

One of Michelle's Tweets
Forgetfulness and ingratitude are the besetting sins of our time. But God is calling many young people to gain the confidence to speak to this confused generation. It is a confidence rooted in each one’s unique relationship with God.  Jesus asked Peter three times, “Do you love Me?” And each time that Peter protested that he did love Jesus, he was told, “Feed my sheep.”

“Do you love Me?” That is the question that must be answered by this new generation of Catholics in the trenches of the New Evangelization. Michelle has given her positive fiat to Jesus Christ. I pray other young people respond affirmatively as Peter did. Otherwise their contemporaries will not receive the Light of the Gospel.

Remember it is God who is asking.

Here is a story that Michelle shared with me while we were tweeting.

Why People Think God Does Not Exist

This is one of the best explanations of why God allows pain and suffering that I have seen. It's an explanation other people will understand. (Editor's Note: Michelle found this story on the internet.)

A man went to a barbershop to have his hair cut and his beard trimmed. As the barber began to work, they began to have a good conversation. They talked about so many things and various subjects. When they eventually touched on the subject of God, the barber said: "I don't believe that God exists." 

"Why do you say that?" asked the customer. "Well, you just have to go out in the street to realize that God doesn't exist. Tell me, if God exists, would there be so many sick people? Would there be abandoned children? If God existed there would be neither suffering nor pain. I can't imagine a loving God who would allow all of these things."

The customer thought for a moment, but didn't respond because he didn't want to start an argument. The barber finished his job and the customer left the shop. Just after he left the barbershop, he saw a man in the street with long, stringy, dirty hair and an untrimmed beard.

The customer turned back and entered the barber shop again and he said to the barber: "You know what? Barbers do not exist."

"How can you say that?" asked the surprised barber. "I am here, and I am a barber. And I just worked on you!"

"No!" the customer exclaimed. "Barbers don't exist because if they did, there would be no people with dirty long hair and untrimmed beards, like that man outside."

"Ah, but barbers DO exist! What happens is, people do not come to me," the barber responded. 

"Exactly!" affirmed the customer. ""That's the point! God, too, DOES exist! What happens, is, people don't go to Him and do not look for Him. That's why there's so much pain and suffering in the world."

Michelle  has sent 59,600 tweets
since she joined Twitter in 2009
Follow Michelle Gonzales on Twitter at @Dare_2_Believe_


  1. sometimes the Scariest time in your life that Lights the proverbial fire under your brain and gets you going is when God allows his voice to be heard by his creature. are you Mad or a Saint....many fit both categories.

  2. Extraordinary witnesses who overcome disabilities because of our Lord. Like Our Jesus said to Paul
    2 Corinthians 12:9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

  3. There is so much here. At first one would'nt think so. Many things were were all entwined. Takes thought to get through all written. Thing were done differently in the Old Testament Yes Geideon did when the battle. It took conversation,signs, and obedience to God. After so many trials in the lives of the people at this time in history. So many just did'nt listen and God gave punishments. People still disobeyed.we must all know of things that took place during this time.God gave all he ceated Free Will. Our Free Will continues to be abused. By the Birth of Jesus of the chosen Vigin Mary. (So much can be said here) The Yes of Mary & the Yes of Joseph gave us The Holy Family. We all know or should know this beautiful Miracle. God loved all His creation so much that He wanted us to be with him in His Kinkdom. God's only begotten Son was to be called Jesus, we were given Jesus to save us from ourselves. A precious baby to grow to man. Jesus prayed and talked to his God, His father often. I'm sure Jesus Loved Joseph, His father on earth. This was shown when Jesus was lost 3 days. Mary scolded Their son for such worry( his parents knew who Their son was) .jesus went home in obedience untill time for his Ministry. Jesus did wonderous miracles, taught & preachedand also had chosen his 12 Apostles. After leaving & giving us All we need to gain heaven,Jesus our lord & king had to suffer in humaness, it should be no wonder why He sweat like blood in the garden, also knowing the "cup" full of all filth,sin, every horrible sin ever committed. Jesus was betrayed by one of his own, even then Jesus called Judas friend, offering opportunity to change, but Satan. Had Judas complete. Jesus suffered much more because of who He was. He was made unrecognizable, and so for His jealous accusers not to be cheated out of his death Simon in the croud along the passion path was made to help carry the cross so Jesus would not die befor crucifixion. Jesus suffered beyon any words his body weight upon itself makig it more than hard to breath. So difficult to write any of this; painful to even think these thoughts. Jsus did cry out "my God My God why hast Thou forsaken Me"? God did have to leave for all to be saved . When death about ,Jesus handed over His Spirit- "It's finished" Jesus did ALL this for us, and yes His Mothers' heart pierced through. Jesus did rise on the 3rd day. He rose to His Father in Heaven then returned to all His orphans, but He gave us the Holy Spirit, so we would not be orphans. Where One is so are The Other Two. Jesus stayed till all settled, all fine. He did say to Peter, do you love Me? He said this 3 times Oeter always answered yes. Jesus said 3 times to tend his sheep. Seem familiar of Peter's betrayal of Christ 3X. Oh my so much just here. How is it possible to not know and Love Our Lord. We must if we want to live. All Love