Saturday, March 22, 2014kept the police busy...
What a night.
Where to begin?
I suppose I should start by mentioning that there isn't a camera-phone picture attached to this post because... well because with everything that took place, pulling out my cellphone to take a picture of our surroundings just didn't cross my mind.
It didn't take long for our night of evangelism to quickly degenerate. If memory serves, I had been preaching the Gospel for no more than 15 minutes when a man professing to be a Christian came over to "set me straight". At first I thought I was in for a "you're-not-evangelizing-right", with a side dish of "you-need-to-preach-more-lovey-dovey". Instead the man, who claimed to be a Christian, started a diatribe about the inaccuracies of the Bible and how, ultimately, God's Word was unreliable. I let the man talk for a couple of minutes, then tried to give an answer, but this was a monologue, not a conversation, so I moved a few feet away from the man and began preaching the Gospel again. That infuriated the man who began to curse and swear at me (remember, this was a professing Christian).
At this point I began praying that the Lord would rid me of this wicked soul, when something caught my eye over on the other side of the street where Pastor Tim was offering Gospel tracts to those who walked by. A young woman violently kicked one of our Bible signs to the ground. Pastor Tim walked over, picked the sign up, but undeterred, the woman kicked the sign back down, screaming and yelling at the good preacher. So both of us had crazies yelling obscenities at us, but my "crazy" quickly became of no consequence.
Things were about to get real serious over on Pastor Tim's side, as I noticed a deranged homeless man walking towards the young woman and Pastor Tim. This was a potentially explosive situation: I knew the homeless man was going to defend an old man over a cursing, violent twenty-year-old, and that's what had me worried. I was afraid the man was going to physically assault the young woman and then, well, the game would be on, if you get my drift. So I quickly ran across the street to try to get in the way of whatever was about to happen. The crazy so-called Christian who had been harassing me got a chance to say: "That's right! You run away you brainwashed coward!" Which I must say annoyed me, but I had more serious things to worry about than my pride.
When I got next to Pastor Tim, there was a bit of a standoff, where the wicked woman traded obscenities with the homeless man. Eventually, the woman turned to Pastor Tim and I and said: "What you're doing is illegal, and I'm calling the cops!" To which we answered: "Go for it!" That annoyed the woman who proceeded to kick our Bible signs (all three this time) down to the ground, and made good on her threat to call the police, before running off into the night.
So in the space of two minutes, Pastor Tim and I were surrounded by police cruisers, with one police officer taking charge, asking us what was going on. We explained the situation and after failing to locate the woman who had lodged a complaint against us, the officer in charge asked us for identification to confirm we weren't troublemakers, and that we would be left in peace afterwards. A quick check on his laptop and the officer gave me back my ID and said: "You guys aren't doing anything illegal and you are free to continue as you wish. Goodnight."
The officer left, and within 5 minutes another homeless man came to see me, to enquire of my well-being. I was surprised that he cared what happened to us, but a bit thankful. My thankfulness however turned to serious concern when the very drunk homeless man said: "Don't you worry guy, if anyone would have given you serious trouble, I would have pulled out my 9mm and would have backed you." Now these drunks are pathological liars, so perhaps he didn't have a pistol and was all talk, but he moved something heavy in his jacket when he said "9mm" and well... that was a thought that gave me the willies!
I was only beginning to settle back down... preached the Gospel for about 15 minutes, when another homeless man showed up and expressed some dissatisfaction toward my preaching. It started with cursing, then came the threats, and then violence. I got pushed around some, the man tried his best to break the Bible sign I was holding, but was unable. That's when Pastor Tim showed up, and seeing that there was two of us, the man relented but he struck again the minute Pastor Tim walked away.
At this point, Pastor Tim rushed back and told me to call the police. I really didn't want to do that, the last thing I wanted is for us preachers to become an annoyance to the police. That's when a man came up to Pastor Tim and I and told us he was a police officer from out-of-town and that he wanted us to call the police right away. Providentially, at that very moment, a police cruiser just happened to come by. The out-of-town officer ran to the police vehicle, showed off his badge and explained the situation to an in-uniform officer and a plain clothed passenger.
Once again, three police cruisers descended on our corner, but this time, we weren't the targets. Three officers detained the homeless man, and the plain clothed man was an observer named Dwayne. I know his name because he visited our church assembly just a couple of weeks ago; he is the nephew of one of our church members. With Dwayne and the out-of-town officer's help, everything got sorted out quickly: the homeless man was warned to leave us alone and to leave the area. Dwayne and the officer he was assigned to remained on our corner for a good 20 minutes while we went back to our evangelism, to make sure we were safe.
I thank God for the work of the various police officers that dealt with us tonight. They were professional, wise and in the end, quite kind to us. Still, I much prefer Friday evangelism nights that don't require the presence of police.
The rest of our night of evangelism was pretty miserable. Our Bible signs were spat at, and there was no shortage of blasphemy and mockery. The only upside is I did hand out a good number of Bible tracts. Who know what the Lord will do.
I have to admit, it's difficult to calm down after such an eventful night. That said, I'm in far better spirits than in my earlier years when I had to deal with violent opposition. Getting to be an old warrior for Christ, I suppose.
Anyway, I'm going to give some sleep a try now... wow... what a night.
God bless you, dear readers.
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