I had the honor of teaming up with Vernon Costolo of Proclaiming the Truth for the first part of the Independence Day activities very early that morning in Woodstock for the 5k run and the parade that followed.
Vernon and I were able to hold our crosses for the runners to see as they started the race, after they turned around and headed back, and as they were about to cross the finish line.
Unlike the previous night while holding our crosses in Woodstock, we did not have any derogatory remarks that I can recall :)
Side track for a moment -
The above photo was taken the night before on July 3rd. Left to right: Me, Jason and Jonathan. Brother Vernon gathered us together for a photo after we all manned a corner in downtown Woodstock for a couple hours.
It was a real pleasure meeting these other Jesus Freaks and I hope to be out with them again very soon!
While on my corner holding the cross I had a couple one finger salutes and was thrown into good company when one motorist cursed Jesus and me in the same breath. Once, while the traffic was stopped and waiting on the light to turn, a fellow told me it was "a beautiful day to be white; isn't it?". To which I responded, "Did you get one of these?" and handed him a Are You Ready tract.
I also had a brief conversation with a lady who told me she was going to Heaven because she was a good person. I gently corrected her and rebuke her self-righteousness to which she responded, "I will have you know that I am Greek Orthodox and we are the first Christians." She went on to tell me that she listens to sermons and prays all day long. I asked her again what was she trusting in to get to Heaven and she told me again, "..my good works..". I started going through the law with her when a young man walked up with his ear-phones blaring.
I gave him a tract while I was talking to the lady. The tract I gave him was an Are You Ready tract that has a picture of a tombstone with the words on it, "Your Name Here". He asked me if I was selling burial plots. I started to laugh but thought about the surrounding scene and it kind of made sense from his perspective in a worldly way.
By now I am trying to engage them both in conversation and the lady started asking why the light was not turning so she could cross the street. I said maybe it was because she was supposed to stand here and talk to me. She didn't think that was why and when that light did turn she booked it on across the street.
Ok...back to the morning of the 4th -
After Vernon and I held the crosses for the 5k run, we went around and handed out some tracts and hoped for some conversations.
While handing out some tracts we ran into a Mormon...scuse me...a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints as the person politely corrected me. He was dressed in a Karate uniform and we talked about that for a few minutes and then steered the conversation into the direction of the things of God.
The young man was very nice and gave nice little answers to questions I was asking him. He said just enough of the truth to sound almost right.
He was very happy to answer the questions until Vernon asked him about his belief that Jesus and Satan are brothers. Yes, he admitted, that was so.
Vernon asked him about his belief that he himself would be a god one day and have little god babies on his very own planet. Yes, he admitted, that was so.
Vernon challenged him to find any of those things in the Bible.
The young man then questioned the authenticity of the Bible due to "it's many translations". Things went quickly south from there and the young man was now in a hurry to get to his group for his Karate demonstrations.
After that, we ran into a group of folks who were handing out books and literature and cold lemonade. The group, Seven Day Adventists, was from the church across the street. We talked to very nice gentlemen who told us several things about his churches doctrine.
They believe in annihilation of a person who dies without "accepting" Jesus while on Earth. They do not believe in the everlasting punishment of Hell that the Bible teaches and that Jesus talks about in the gospel of Matthew or that Paul describes in Thessalonians.
After the conversation with the SDA man, Vernon and I called it a morning and we headed on home.
Later that evening my wife and I, along with my ministry partner Cam, handed out right at 1,800 tracts to folks who were sitting around and waiting on the fireworks show to start in Canton.
Silly me forgot to bring the camera ;(
We had a couple great gospel sharing conversations along the way and only one weird incident.
I had just handed out tracts to four people standing around a building and started to walk over to another group when the oldest person of the group who I just handed tracts to wanted me to take his tract back.
He said, "I don't have my glasses with me, so you should take this back". I told him that was Ok, he could take it home with him and read it there..have a happy 4th! It was at this point he fold the tract up and started violently ripping it to pieces. I said, "You're tearing up the tract?"
He then pointed at me and yelled, "You are the kind of people who give Christianity a bad name!!!"
I asked him what I said or did that made him so angry. He went on to tell me he was a Christian and didn't like the kinds of me.
I started to try to have a conversation with him but my wife took me by the arm and said let's move on. She said something to me about swines and pearls.
I almost let this incident steal my joy of sharing the life saving gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ; it weighed on my mind the rest of the night.
Sure, I have been yelled at before. I have had people so mad at me they were almost spitting in my face. I have had people throw gospel tracts back at me or hand them back to me while cursing me.
But something was different with this particular incident and I could not put my finger on it.
Anyway, the rest of the evening went without incident and I had the pleasure of sharing Christ to a group of four and a young couple a little bit later.
I pray that God receives all the glory that He is so worthy to receive. I pray that God uses the tracts and the conversations to bring many to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.
Thank you Father for so great a salvation!
Soli Deo Gloria -