Chris Stefanick brings joy of Christ’s story to Grafton

by Kristina Lahr | New Earth

International evangelist Chris Stefanick speaks at St. John the Evangelist Church in Grafton on March 20. (Kristina Lahr | New Earth)

Youth and adults filled St. John the Evangelist Church in Grafton for REBOOT, an event on March 20 featuring international speaker, author, and TV host Chris Stefanick.

In a two-part series of talks, Stefanick reminded all in attendance of the great story of Jesus Christ’s undying love for us, and that we are an integral part of that story.

“Jesus said, ‘I came so that they might have life and have it to the full,’” said Stefanick. “He didn’t say, ‘I came to make them boring, add holy ‘to do’s’ to their already busy lives with which they’ll constantly feel guilty about not fulfilling, and to give them rules and regulations.’ He said, ‘I have told you these things so my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.’ He came to give us life—real life.”

Stefanick told the stories of three saints to highlight that it isn’t money, fame, or power that gives us joy and purpose but Jesus Christ himself. Even in immense suffering, these saints were joyful because they knew who they were and whose they were. The pain they suffered was only a page in the greater story.

“The death of his family wasn’t St. John Paul II’s story,” said Stefanick. “Cancer wasn’t the story for Blessed Chiara Badano, being kidnapped and abused wasn’t the story for St. Josephine Bakhita. There’s a bigger story. See the love that created space and time, the love that we were born to find. Let’s not buy into the delusion that Jesus is any closer to the saints than he is to you right now. He’s giving everything to you right now, and he’s asking you to give everything back. Let’s stop complicating the equation that is Christianity.”

Youth gather around Chris Stefanick for a photo. (Kristina Lahr | New Earth)

Deacon Michael Grzadzielewski of St. John the Evangelist Church said bringing Stefanick to the parish was a way to excite and recharge the faithful for the greater mission Christ has given us.

“We’re trying to get our people to more deeply understand the relationship with Jesus that we all long to have. I think that’s been missed by a lot of people. Chris is really good about bringing forth that relationship aspect. I’ve been using Chris’s program Chosen with the kids I’m teaching, and they really seem to gravitate toward the sessions. If you talk to young people today and ask them a question, they will typically respond with, ‘I feel that...’ Everything is about emotion. He’s able to tap into that and opens the door for discussing morality and dogma.”

In his second talk, Stefanick presented five habits to practice in order to live the life Jesus offers. The first being to love yourself with your words and actions. “The words you speak to yourself shape your self-perception. Self-perception shapes your actions. Actions shape your life.”

The other four habits are to pray, share the faith, seek real friendship, and REBOOT, meaning to begin anew each day and to never let our past sins or experiences define us. The message was simple at its core, but its importance couldn’t be overstated.

“How many generations does it take for the flame of faith to go out? One,” said Stefanick. “It’s in our hands now. I don’t care how hard the world pushes back on the most amazing gift humanity has ever received. In this town, in our families, we hold onto that flame and pass it down.

“I can’t promise you that if you follow Jesus in your everyday life that all your problems will go away—kids will stop doing drugs, your marriage will instantly heal, your cancer will clear up—but God can do anything, so you should ask big. Here’s what I can promise you with absolute surety. When you get closer to Jesus, in your everyday life, guess what changes? You.”