Hidden Nuggets Series #76 – “The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice…” Philippians 1:18
(This story has nothing to do with personal finance. But last summer God taught me a lesson about questioning the motives and tactics of those who preach his Word. It’s not up to me to be their judge. Here’s how I learned that…)
The booming cry cracked the calm Saturday afternoon air as my family and I stood in line at Great American Ballpark. Startled, I turn to see if I have been transported through time and space into an episode of Thundercats. Nope, don’t see Lion-O’s cat signal in the sky.
“Good afternoon everyone!”
The piercing voice continues to be projected over our heads. Where is it coming from? Who dares disrupt our anticipation of afternoon baseball?
I peered through some bystanders to see the originator of the voice standing on a grassy knoll. My eyebrows squinted with curiosity. A flushed face and drooping shoulders of embarrassment quickly replaced my curious gaze. For in his left hand held proudly forward was a Bible.
Street preacher. Oh, boy…here we go.
I tried to appear disinterested by continuing to check out all the bronze statues of past ballplayers erected outside the ballpark. “Ooh look honey, isn’t the architecture of the stadium interesting?”
If I look his way and appear interested people may subconsciously connect my Christian faith with his. Then I’ll have to answer as to why I support this type of wacko street evangelism.
Of course my kids love it. “You go preacher! Woo-hoo…Yay Jesus!”
His rant of all things Jesus lasted just a few brief minutes. It’s the usual message you’d expect to hear – “Your life is tough…where can you turn?…He will help you with the pain…yada-yada-yada…”
He ended by saying “…and if you follow Jesus you will always be a winner at the game of life.” Ah…nice touch considering the venue. Putting a bow on salvation with some athletic lingo. That might stick with people.
A smattering of applause greeted his final words. I’m just glad it’s over.
I deflected a few questions from the kids about the incident. At some point I even mentioned to my teenage daughter that I didn’t think that type of witnessing was very effective. All was forgotten though as within moments the gates opened and we excitedly filed into the stadium.
As my waist hits the turnstile I happen to be drawn to another voice. Except this time it’s only audible in my head. It’s not loud and piercing like the street preacher. It’s calm and still and with a very different message directed only at me.
“Who says I can’t use him?” it says.
“Why are you embarrassed by Me?”
“How come you are not that bold?”
Outs passed into innings that afternoon. By halfway through the game I’m quietly repenting and reflecting back on what I’d heard.
The street preacher really had done a good job. His message was succinct. Heck, it was even uplifting. Positive. Call to action. Offering hope. All the things you’d expect and want to hear in a message about Someone who could save your soul.
I may never preach on the streets but I’m now a teeny-tiny bit envious for the character traits of those who do. I need to develop their passion and courage at a deeper level.
And when in the future if a momentary lapse of embarrassment hits me again when I see one doing their thing, I’ll secretly be saying deep down, “You go preacher…You’re a winner in my book.”
Question: What’s your reaction to the preacher on the street? Do you think they are effective? Does their approach matter?