Saturday, January 27, 2007and then there's Rand...
It was cold tonight. Real cold. I again found myself debating whether I should be going out for the customary Friday night of evangelism in the marketplace, but a sense of duty, and genuine empathy for my fellow man got me out there. Depending who you asked, the temperature was a balmy -18 to -22 degrees Celsius (that's 0 to -8 degrees Fahrenheit), so I seriously bundled up: three layers of warm clothing from top to bottom, plus two winter jackets. All this kept me relatively warm for close to two hours.
There were more people in the market than I thought there would be. I distributed a fair number of Bible tracts and had a few short conversations (mostly with young people), so it was a profitable night of evangelism. In the words of my pastor (who still was unable to come out with me due to poor health): "if nothing else, Rand, God was glorified in the marketplace tonight."
Amen to that.
The Lord really impressed on my heart tonight, the plight of carnal men and women. Too often, on our evangelistic efforts, the people are just one big blur to me... a big blur of blasphemy, cursing and all manner of violence, but not tonight. Here is some of what I witnessed:
-I saw a couple walking in front of me. Clearly, the man was excited at being out with his companion. He held her hand and caressed her several times. The woman, though, seemed somewhat cold, or perhaps even annoyed at her mate's displays of affection. I thought to myself: "poor fellow, I remember the vexation of heart that came with giving someone affection only to have a hard heart as a response."
-A few minutes later, one of the street beggars walked up to me complaining that my preaching was disturbing his requests for money. Without getting annoyed, and keeping a right attitude, I told the beggar that I had purposefully chosen my present preaching area as to not get "in his face". I was a good distance away from him. I told him I was declaring the Gospel of Jesus and that I figured he didn't want me to disturb his begging with my message, so out of respect, I kept my distance. My respectful tone and explanation of the situation totally disarmed the beggar. He walked away saying that he respected me also, and that he would bother me no more.
-An hour later, I saw a by-law officer give parking tickets to two vehicles parked in a no-stop zone right across from where I was preaching the Gospel. Over the 6 years I have been a street evangelist, I have seen countless people get tickets on that section of the market. Some parked there without noticing the "no-stop sign", others, being fully aware of the sign, still chose to park there. In some cases I actually called from the other side of the street, explaining that if they left their car there, they would be ticketed, but to no avail. In all cases, the vehicle owners got a nasty fine. They were charged because they ignored and/or rejected the instruction of a "no park sign".
I carry a sign with me when I preach. A Bible verse is on that sign. A Bible verse that speaks of God's salvation and the need for faith and repentance. That sign is also ignored and rejected by most. I call out to them, warning them of the day when we will all have to answer for our lives and what we have done with the Gospel... but to no avail.
On this particular night, the owners of the vehicles showed up and they weren't too pleased with the parking tickets on their windshields. One of them actually spat on the piece of paper. "Even with full knowledge that they are guilty," I thought, "there is no remorse, no taking of responsibility; just a juvenile and irrational hatred of the law."
-Again, a short time later, I saw a young lady, standing in front of a mirror in one of the market's shops. She was adjusting her skin-tight blouse, making sure that she was showing off enough cleavage. She repeatedly pulled on that top, and then looked at every possible angle of her body in the mirror. "God has given her a lovely body," I thought, "and the foolish woman uses it as an instrument of evil." I watched her walk away, no doubt, to go a whoring. How sad.
After watching this carnival of wickedness, I walked back towards my pastor's house, passing by several souls who were lined up to get into a wicked dance club and that's when I thought:
"And then, there's me..."
I was once as they were, carnal and self-centered in all my thoughts and doings; but tonight, I was out in freezing temperatures (by that point, I couldn't feel my toes), with a clumsy Bible sign, declaring the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As I walked away from the market, I praised God for what He had done in my life. I praised Him for all the riches He has showered upon me, and the wisdom and protection He had provided for me to never squander them. I praised Him for the woman He had given me who never tires of my affection, and I praised Him for the chaste and modest attitude He has worked in her heart (which is a woman's true beauty). I praised Him for giving me faith; for not allowing me to continue in spiritual blindness to the destruction of my soul. I praised and thanked Him for my salvation in Christ Jesus.
As I drove back home, my thoughts brought me back to the obvious question: "why me?" A question that I sincerely doubt any of God's saints will ever get an answer for, but how can I not wonder?
"O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen." (Romans 11:33-36)
Have a good weekend, dear readers, and a blessed Lord's Day.
Labels: Friday evangelism