Today my faithful witnessing partner and I headed to Jasper, Georgia to hand out tracts and do some one-to-one witnessing at the annual Marble Festival.
I arrived a few minutes ahead of my buddy so I laid down my cross and box of tracts and stood around looking for familiar faces that might come out to join us. While I was scanning the crowd and trying to pick out any one I might know, I heard someone say, “Wayne, is that you?” I turned to see who was asking and recognized a face from a church my wife and I attended years ago right after the Lord saved me.
I gave a quick hug to the lady and asked how she had been doing. She proceeded to tell me how her life has been upside down over the last few years. She painted a sad tale of life after divorce, no job, no transportation and now living with a grandparent. It seems she has battled with alcohol and her own personal demons over the years and didn’t seem to have too much hope for her life.
I began to explain to her why I was out at the Festival; giving folks the hope of forgiveness of sins and eternal life with God. She told me that she still believed in God and was trying to take classes on catechism at the local Catholic church. We had a good long conversation about that. We talked about Mary. We talked about works salvation. We talked about papal infallibility. We had a long talk about the Way, the Truth and the Life.
I asked her if she liked to read. She said she loves to read. I told her for some reason I was compelled to bring along a book with me today written by Mark Cahill called, “One Heartbeat Away”. I gave her the book as gift and told her to read this book after she had done her daily Bible reading. She thanked me for giving her the book and we said our goodbyes.
That was a perfect God thing.
My buddy said she might be the only reason we were supposed to come out here today.
Well, she could have been….but God was about to lay upon my buddy and me a blessing I will never forget.
Here’s the set up - -
Last year at the Marble Festival, while we were giving out tracts and doing one-to-one witnessing, the Festival director approached one of my team mates and told him that we could not solicit in the area we were in. My team mate came over to me and told me what was going on and I told him not to worry as we were on a public street that had been shut down for through traffic for the people to walk towards the entrance of the Festival. I went over to the director (whom I knew personally) and asked him why he was so angry about us handing out the tracts.
He told me that we were soliciting on private property and if we didn’t stop he was going to call the local police. I told him that we were not soliciting but giving away gospel tracts and besides, we were on a public street more than 200 feet from the entrance to the Festival.
He told us again, this time with a red and mad face, that if we didn’t leave he was calling the police. I told him to do what he felt he needed to do, we were not leaving.
About ten minutes later the local police shows up and had a long discussion with the director. I told my team to keep passing out tracts and talking to folks. After the policeman was finished talking with the director he walked over to where I was and let me give “my side” of the story.
The officer told me that, yes, we had a Constitutional right to free speech and he was not challenging me on that. He told me that we did have a right to be where we were but asked if we could move to the other side of the street so “this spark would not become a fire”.
I agreed to move my team to the other side of the street. We still had lots of tracts to be given out and I didn’t want to waste time arguing with the law about who was right and who was wrong.
God used the move to our advantage and we were able to hand out all our tracts and talk to more people than where we previously were.
Now….you’re up to speed.
Back to today –
As we left my friend with her new book we were going to set up my cross on the sidewalk that the police told us to go to last year. As we were making our way up the hill I noticed an older gentleman giving out little Bibles at the very same place we were told to move from last year.
As we got closer to him I saw boxes of Bibles stacked up next to a canopy tent that some folks had set up in the yard in front of the street that we were told to move from last year. I walked over to the men standing at the canopy and asked them if they were the ones giving out the Bibles. The fellow said yes we are, and were giving out gospel tracts as well.
I introduced myself and my partner and he said his name was Scott and introduced us to his buddy Gary. I told him that it was on this very spot last year that we had the police called on us by the Festival director and we had to move across the street.
Scott said, “We know.”
I look at him dumbfounded.
Scott said Gary, while he was leaving the Festival last year, saw what happened to you guys and told our church. Scott said what happened to you guys last year inspired us to come out here and set up to witness, hand out tracts and open air preach!
I said you guys have been open air preaching already? Scott said yes, about every 30 minutes since 10am. (Well, I’m glad I had my sunglasses on at this point because I started tearing up.) You have been out here since 10am? Yup, our whole Sunday school class; we have the afternoon shift.
I asked Scott if he had a run in with the Festival director yet. He said it doesn’t matter this year. I asked why? Scott said the owner of the yard they had set up in gave them permission use it as they needed.
Scott told us to set up anywhere we wanted in the yard and join them.
God used us mightily to hand out hundreds of tracts and witness to dozens of people over the next several hours.
We met two evangelists in our area who love the Lord and love to preach the gospel.
God was glorified today and I was privileged and humbled to be used by Him!!
Man, we serve a great, great God!!
"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28