God is good.
For my readers:
Please know that what you are about to read has not been wrote with prideful intentions or self elevation in mind. I always struggle with writing about my evangelism experiences and how they may be perceived by those who don't know me personally. Sometimes the written word does not fully reflect the attitude and the intent of the writer no matter how hard he/she tries to make a point or illustrate the story. Sometimes words that are meant to encourage fellow evangelists fall woefully short and are mistaken for prideful exploitations of the writer.
It is my sole desire that you find encouragement through my evangelism experience last night.
For the last couple of weeks I had greatly anticipated the arrival of Black Friday 2010. I had printed out local store opening times and arranged them in an order for the best use of time and energy. I ordered 500 Christmas themed million dollar bill gospel tracts and constantly prayed that God would use me greatly to preach His Word after I handed out the tracts at the various store locations.
With my list, tracts and a preaching box (foldable stool) I left my house at 10:30 pm last night and headed to the Old Navy store in Woodstock for their midnight opening. When I got there the line was already wrapped around the building. I got out a pack of 100 tracts and proceeded to hand out every one of them. That kind of math is easy....100 tracts handed out...everyone took a tract...must be 100 people in line. I walked back to my car and got out my stool. Went to the location that I thought would be perfect for everyone to hear me and set the stool down and took a deep breath.
Three minutes later I was still standing there looking at the crowd. Having not said a word yet all these thoughts started coming into my head. Thoughts like: "Everyone already has a tract, the gospel is on it...just go on over to Kohl's".
To my disbelief I was picking up my stool and heading back to the car without ever uttering a word. Once back in the car I just sat there and watched another 100 people or so get in the line. The cars just kept coming and here I was sitting in the car. I kept telling myself to get out of the car and go back to that spot. My mind was willing but my flesh was weak.
My mind was racing 100 mph. My legs felt like they weighed a 1000 pounds.
Then I thought about a conversation I had earlier in the day with my brother in Christ from Canada; Paul Latour. Paul, from The Word Street Journal, had called me to encourage and mentor me for my upcoming Black Friday endeavor. Paul knew that I was going out there solo and had great pearls of godly wisdom drawn from his experiences as a fellow laborer in the field to impart on me.
Remembering that conversation and knowing that he and his wife would be praying for me at the very hour I would be at my first store was giving me the strength I needed at just the right time. But not only Paul and his wife, I thought about a brother in Pennsylvania I had talked to just a short while ago who was up praying for me. I thought of another brother in Canton who was up praying for me. My wife was back home praying for me. I looked down at my wrist and saw my wrist band I got from the Ambassador's Academy that said, "Don't quit" imprinted on it. I heard Tony Miano in that loving Drill Sergeant voice yelling at me to "not quit".
I said to myself, "Ok God, I am relying on you" and got out of the car and walked back to the same spot I was before.
I set up my stool again, opened my mouth, and the Holy Spirit spoke through me for about 5 or 6 minutes.
With knees still shaking and sweat pouring off me I got off the box and started walking away to the car. Some people clapped...some wished me a Merry Christmas and some shouted God bless. I didn't respond to any of it (although it was very encouraging, I can easily see how pride could creep in through the accolades of man) and got in my car and drove towards the next place.
I had a couple hours to kill before I went to Kohl's, Target and Best Buy so I went to a Waffle House for a couple eggs and coffee. While sitting there eating my food, a dear brother in Christ came in and sat down with me.
I love it when God gives you what you need in the moment you need it!
He said he heard I might be at the Waffle House. He and his family had been out of state visiting family and wanted to hang out with me for a couple hours.
After we ate we headed over to the shopping center that held all three of the places I wanted to tract and open air at.
We went to Target first and I spent the first few minutes handing out tracts. I then set up my stool directly in front of the people and let God take over again. I think I went again for 5 or 6 minutes with the same type preaching structure I used at Old Navy.
At each place I open aired I made sure I got the full gospel in.
I talked about the wide road and the narrow path. I opened up the mighty Law of God and showed the crowd how they had all violated God's perfect standard. I explained what sin was and told them of their terrible fate if they died in those sins and stood before God on Judgment Day. I used an analogy that showed how they were all waiting in line to buy the perfect gift at the right price for the one they love and compared that to the love that God had for the world when He gave the perfect Gift at a price that was unmeasurable 2000 years ago. I magnified the cross and tried to make much of Christ as much as I could humanly do. I begged them to repent of their sins against God and put their faith alone in Christ alone to save them from God's wrath.
After Target, we moved a hundred feet or so and did the same thing at Kohl's. After Kohl's we crossed over to the other side of the shopping center and did the same thing at Best Buy.
I only had two hecklers; one at Best Buy and one at Belk's. The one at Best Buy didn't raise his voice too much and all I really remember him saying was for me to "shut up" or "be quiet". I don't really remember what it was he was saying.
After Best Buy my brother in Christ went on back home to get some sleep before some of his family came in. What a blessing and comfort it was to have him by my side during that time.
My next to last stop was at Belk's.
I waited to about 3:30 am before starting at Belk's so the line of the crowd could get a little longer.
There were about 50-60 folks there when I started tracting the line. After a few minutes of preaching, a very vocal woman told me to shut up. I didn't pay it no mind. Then she got more vocal and told me to go to Wal-Mart. I told her I had already been there and now it was her turn to hear me. I had been at Wal-Mart right before I went to eat at the Waffle House just to tract the folks going in and out of the store in a great haste.
That was all she said to me and I finished up there right as the rain started pouring down. I told everyone "God bless" and to have a "Merry Christmas" and then I picked up my stool and headed for the car. The folks started clapping and wishing me a Merry Christmas. Again, I just ignored it and praised God while I got in my car.
Just as I was about to back up and drive over to K-Mart for their 5 am opening, I saw a man coming quickly to my car. I couldn't tell if he was angry or not. As he approached my car I rolled down the window and he proceeded to thank me and shook my hand for taking a stand for Christ. After he left a lady came over and did the same thing. Now at this time it is pouring down rain and these folks were not wearing a rain coat or using an umbrella. Just as the lady left another woman and her teen-aged son came over and blessed me with more encouragement and was apologizing for the woman who was heckling me!
I just started praising God and giving Him all the glory for everything that was happening!!
The pouring rain kept me from hitting my last stop at K-Mart. It started raining so hard the store must have felt sorry for the folks in line and went ahead and let them in very early. That's Ok...God had me where He wanted me all night long!!
All in all, about 450 tracts were handed out and about that many heard the gospel preached to them.
What an amazing and humbling night.
When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.
Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.
See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?
His dying crimson, like a robe,
Spreads o’er His body on the tree;
Then I am dead to all the globe,
And all the globe is dead to me.
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.