23 November 2012
Black Friday follow-up
The above picture symbolizes how I felt at times last night while out tracting and open-airing.
Hundreds and hundreds of people who were in long lines waiting to get into stores for something they just had to have.
Waiting. Laughing. Reading. Joking. Standing. Sitting. Mocking. Jeering. Angry. Frustrated.
All these people.....lights out.
I was reminded of a particular verse of Scripture all night long: "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing..." 1 Cor 1:18. Of course the rest of the verse goes on to say, "....but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." Thank God for the rest of that verse!!
My missionary friend and I left my house at 8pm and headed out to the first opening of the night; Target. When we arrived at the Canton store, there must have been 200-300 people in line waiting to get in. We took handfuls of Black Friday tracts and began passing them out as fast as we could. As soon as we got a tract in their hands I set up my stool, opened up the cross, turned on my amp and began speaking to the crowd.
Before I could even past my opening words of hoping they were having a wonderful Thanksgiving day, two Target managers made a bee-line right at me while talking into their little headsets. My missionary friend (who is an ex-police officer) intercepted the managers before they got to me (all part of the plan in case this happened) and engaged them in conversation while I continued on. My friend kept talking to them until the managers went and got the police who were already there for crowd control and crazy Jesus freaks. I knew I only had a couple minutes left before we would be shut down, so I went into my "Stop Light" message. When the police came over I was already done and folding up the cross. I guess the crowd was anxious to see what was going to happen to us but they were disappointed I'm sure as one of the police officers recognized my friend and then there was nothing but smiles, handshakes and memories from years past :-)
We left from there and went on to Best Buy a few doors down. My friend was jumping at the chance to do some open-air, so he took the amp and set up close to the road and, basically, off Best Buy property. I went to hand out the tracts to the hundreds in line there and when I got about half way through the line my friend began. I was a little concerned my 25 watt amp would not have the impact from the distance he was from the building, but when he started speaking, I had no trouble hearing him at all. His voice carried down the hill and bounced of the wall of the building and into the ears of the people waiting in line. No incidents here; police or hecklers.
We left Best Buy and headed for the Canton Belks store.
When we arrived, there were only about 50 people in line. We waited a couple minutes and then my friend went to hand out tracts while I got the amp and cross ready. After the tracts were passed out I got up on my stool, and with no interference from authorities, was able to go as long as I was led to go. When I finished, I told the crowd (now around 75 people) that I had free "The Biggest Question" dvd's and free Bibles for anyone who wanted one with no obligations to them.
We waited around and no one came over to us. As we packed up and were headed back to the car, a woman came over to us and began to thank us for our boldness in proclaiming Christ. She said that she was a believer who regularly attended a church not far from where I live. She gave us a little testimony and then asked us to pray for her daughter who, at 18 years old, had recently left home to move in with her boyfriend. She said her daughter had grown up in church and was now living a very sinful lifestyle. My friend was able to give her good council (he is also a youth minister) and then we all held hands and prayed for her and her daughter. She was greatly encouraged by my friends council and for our prayers. I gave her a few copies of the Greatest Question dvd and told her to make sure she gave her daughter one. I thank God for these divine appointments!!!
Just as we got into the car to leave, a young man came up to the car and asked if we had any more of the dvd's. Yup!
We left there and went to the Old Navy store in Woodstock. After I handed out a hundred or so tracts there, my friend began his second open-air session. No incidents or conversations there, but the glorious gospel was heard by all in the line!
By that point, Vernon, from Proclaiming the Truth, had got off work and was headed down to meet us at the Best Buy on Barrett Parkway. When we all got to that Best Buy, there must have been at least 300 people waiting to get in the store. Knowing that this was Vernon's first (and maybe only) opportunity to open-air, my friend and I set out handing out tracts as fast as we could. We knew there were police and store management walking around; time was probably not on our side.
Vernon cranked up his amp and began to open-air the last half of the line as we kept watch for anyone attempting to shut us down; but there was no incidents. Because the line was so long, and we feared the people at the front of the line may have not heard, we moved toward the front and he went a second time. As Vernon was about halfway through, a plain clothes security (an off duty Sheriff's Officer) came over and my ex-police friend ran interference and began engaging him in conversation so Vernon could finish. It seems that my friend and this officer knew some of the same law enforcement folks, so that kept them talking about those things while Vernon never missed a beat in his message.
We only had about 30 minutes before the midnight hour, so we headed over to Town Center Mall. We knew for sure that we would be thrown off the property as soon as we cranked up the amps, but we decide we would give it try anyway.
When we arrived at the mall, we did not see a single line outside at any of the stores. But, people were coming to the mall in droves. Vernon asked me if I wanted to use his amp, set the speaker on the roof of his truck and just broadcast to all the people walking into the mall.
I jumped up into the bed of his truck, put the speaker on the roof and began. We knew for sure that the little security vehicles would be pouncing on us any minute...but no one ever came.
My friend got up in the truck after me and began his turn...no security came.
Finally, Vernon did a turn as well...still, no security came to run us off.
Last night, in our little corner of the world, in our mission field, hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people heard the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. All across the country, in their own little mission fields, evangelists were proclaiming the good news last night to lost souls; bulbs who had no light to them.
We live in a dark and fallen world that loves it's sin and hates and mocks the message of the only good news that will save them. Although at times we may feel like we are but a candle in the wind with the good news of the gospel, know that it (the gospel) is the power of God unto salvation!
Where is your mission field?
Soli Deo Gloria!